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Her mother told her to look, and she did find blood. Her heart was in her throat, but it wasn’t unexpected, and she wasn’t alone either. Her mother was with her, comforting her and showing her what to do. Everything was fine until her mother kissed her on the cheek and told her that she was now a woman.
Rachel started crying. She couldn’t stop anymore. She sobbed for hours and nothing could comfort her. Jay Geiger came into her room and lay down next to her on the bed, like he hadn’t done in years. He stroked her head and asked her what was going on. Her shoulders shrugged so hard it nearly broke his heart, and he had to repeat his question a few times. Finally she whispered, “Papa, I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to get away from you and our home. “
Jay kissed her cheek and left to talk to his wife. Lillian was very worried.
Many girls were married when they were thirteen, and she believed it would be better for her daughter if she and Jay had some order in their lives through a solid Jewish bond rather than responding to their foolish fears. But her husband replied that when he married her she was already sixteen, and what was good for the mother must also be good for the daughter, who needed time to grow up and think about marriage to befriend.
Rachel was given a long reprieve. And immediately life became beautiful again. Miss Burnham told Jay that she had a marked talent for learning and that she would benefit greatly from continuing education. The parents decided to leave her at school and not to do the housework all day, as it would have been customary, and the joy and vitality that now shone from Rachel’s eyes made up for it. Rachel had an innate kindness, and her own unhappiness made her all the more receptive to the sufferings of others. She was as close to the Coles as if they were blood relatives.
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