Recap: Bayla and Dr. Laurent are engaged. The war is over, and Bayla and Mimi wait to hear from their family. Gloria’s father, Mr. Eddie Jacobson, flies to Washington to meet with President Truman to ask him to please meet with Prof. Chaim Weizmann. He convinces the President to meet with him.
In early September, I headed back to Missouri and that’s when the telegram came.
Sophie rushed out to greet me, waving it in her hand.
We hugged and kissed. She jumped up and down. Mimi ran out to join us and encircled me in a huge hug. “They’re coming!” Mimi shouted. “They’re all coming!”
Sophie read the telegram aloud.
Dearest Sophie, Bayla, and Mimi,
Got the visas! Thank you for help from President Truman. We’re all coming. Your parents on way to England. We will all travel together to America. Can’t wait to encircle you all in a hug. Benny, Fraidy, and Aliza are so excited. G-d willing, we will all be together soon.
The three of us joined hands and danced around and around in a wild dance of thanksgiving.
I recited Mizmor L’Sodah with tears streaming down my cheeks.
I rushed over to Dr. Laurent, to Michael’s office, to tell him the news. I still thought of him as Dr. Laurent, though he insisted I use his first name.
“Baruch Hashem!” he said, tears pouring down his face. “I am so happy for you.”
“And G-d willing, you will have good news from your family, too,” I said.
Two weeks later, our families with Benny all appeared at the Cantors’ front door. There was so much hugging and crying and screaming for joy that no one could talk. Benny and Fraidy ran over to Mimi and there was a tearful reunion.
Aliza looked so grown up. She approached me shyly. “Aliza, you grew up. You’re beautiful,” I said with a catch in my voice.
“I saved all your letters, Bayla.”
“You still jumping rope?”
This girl, who was now teenager, smiled at me. “I can still make it to 200.”
Tante Aimee thanked the Cantors profusely for having us all of this time at the farm. The plan was that we would all move together now to a house in Kansas City, Kansas, where a small Orthodox community was forming.
We sat together and told our stories of all that had happened.
Bubby handed me a blue dress that she’d added material to over the years. My birthday dress! It would still always be that. My parents looked so thin and haggard. They had been through so much – more than they wanted to share right now. Benny was shy with us, but he remembered Mimi. He wasn’t a little boy now. He was almost 11. Fraidy, too, had grown up without us. She hugged me and snuggled into my lap.
Zeidy looked so much older. His eyes were glistening with tears. “I didn’t know if I’d ever see you again. Thank you, Hashem!” he cried.
“We took care of horses and milked cows, and we picked corn.” Sophie was sharing all we did on the farm.
“Were they kind to you, the Cantors?”
Mimi and I looked at each other. “It was okay,” I said. “Baruch Hashem, we had a place to stay and they were never mean to us.”
Mama seemed to understand. “We missed you so much. You girls have grown into young women without me.”
The sadness in her voice gave me a catch in my throat.
Mama sighed. “We are so lucky. So many lost whole families.”
We were all silent.
“Shimon Zev is in Eretz Yisrael,” Mama said. “He’s learning in the yeshivah in Chevron.”
“I’m happy for him but I wanted to see him.”
“How did you get healed, Sophie?” Tante Aimee kept her arm around Sophie and wouldn’t let go as if she was worried that she would disappear.
“It took time, but slowly I didn’t need the crutches and soon I was able to do everything. Hashem did it.”
Sophie twirled around for her mother. They hugged and cried together.
Feter Dan explained about how we would move and what the new house was like. He would be doing business with my father. They planned to make their own business. We packed up our belongings and I thanked the Cantors.
“What you did, we can never repay you for,” my mother said. Mrs. Cantor just nodded, but Mr. Cantor wiped a tear from his eye.
“The new house has a room for Mimi, Bayla, and Sophie, as well as a room for Benny, and one for Fraidy and Aliza. It’s a two-family house with a wraparound porch.” Feter Dan showed us a picture of the house. Bayla, you’ll be able to go to college now,” Mama said.
Mimi gave me a look. I knew she thought that I better tell them my news now.
“Mama, Papa, there’s something I want to tell you.”
Just then, as if on cue, Dr. Laurent knocked, and Papa let him in.
My mother exclaimed, “Dr. Laurent. It’s so nice to see you.”
“I wanted to speak to Mr. Karmel alone, please,” he said.
Mama glanced towards me.
She edged over and, while they were in the backyard talking, she hugged me tight. “Is this what I think?”
I nodded, letting the tears trickle down my cheek. “Yes, Mama.”
Papa returned, smiling, with his arm around Dr. Laurent, Michael. Papa stepped towards me and wrapped me in a giant hug. “Mazal tov, Bayla.”
Michael turned to me. “Have you finished writing your novel, Bayla?”
I smiled. “Yes, it’s just about done.”
“May I read it?”
I nodded slowly.
Just then, a beautiful white dove landed on a tree branch right near us. I pointed to it.
We watched it flap its wings and soar up, up into the deep blue sky.
Susie Garber is the author of Secrets in Disguise (Menucha Publishers 2020), Denver Dreams (a novel, Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials, and features in various magazines, including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). Fiction serial in The Jewish Press – Falling Star (2019), article in the Winter 2019 Jewish Action Magazine. She contributes to the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and teaches creative writing to students of all ages.