When Adele wakes up in the morning, she makes sure the kids are up and dressed. She makes sure that breakfast is ready, and lunches are packed, before heading off to work. She works long hours, to bring home a minimum-wage paycheck, which helps cover the bills.
Adele isn’t a mom. She’s just 19 years old, and the eldest child of 7. Her mom used to do these things, until last year when she was diagnosed with cancer.
It was just one week after having a baby, and a month after her diagnosis, that she passed away. As the oldest, Adele knew it was her job to help her father raise the rest of the kids. It didn’t matter that in many ways, she was still a kid herself.
Evening comes. After work, and getting the kids to sleep, Adele settles down to make some phone calls. She’s a kallah, and she has a lot to take care of between now and her chuppah in the next two weeks. As her eyes scan her to-do list, she sees things she can’t cross off: A dress, a hall, food for the guests. She calls to inquire about a modest apartment to move into after the wedding, but the rent is out of her budget.
She and her father know the truth: They don’t have the money to pay for the basics. They try not to talk about it, try not to acknowledge the fact that ever since her mother died the family has fallen apart. Try not to address the fact that the wedding is drawing closer, and she still doesn’t have the things she needs.
Adele gets into bed, and cries herself to sleep. Though tears run down her face, she is silent. She must be strong for the rest of the kids.
In the morning, Adele will wake up and check to see if any strangers have added to her hachnasas kallah fund. With a spark of hope, she will imagine how she can use donations to start a new life.