We came over at the appointed time only to be greeted by an empty house.

A few minutes later, she arrived puffy eyed and crying. With difficulty, she managed to explain that her seventeen year old son had run away from home and that she had been out looking for him.

He had been having difficulties for some time now, but running away was something new. In spite of the elephant in the room (which was the son who was not in the room), we became good friends very quickly.

We talked of her life and ours, of G‑d and of Judaism.

Before we knew it, she had us taking a look at her mezuzahs to see if they were properly made. Turns out that one of them was printed on paper instead of parchment and the other wasn't either acceptable.

At her behest, we ran out to the car and brought two mezuzahs which she promptly hung on the front and back doors. In spite of the fact that her son sorely needed some spiritual protection at the moment, we advised her not to place a mezuzah on his bedroom door without his permission. The last thing she needed was provocation for yet another fight.

We spoke about lighting Shabbat candles, how this brings true peace to a home and draws the family together. She happily agreed to light Shabbat candles every single week from then on. Her eleven year old daughter also decided to do the same.

At this point, her son finally came home. We were able to see how hard she was trying to be a good mother to him.

After some initial wariness, he warmed up to us. He told us about the challenges which he was encountering and about his hopes. We talked about the importance of doing good things and how even one small mitzvah can make a very big difference.

Our very meaningful discussion ended up with his putting on Tefillin and agreeing to his mom's suggestion that he put a mezuzah on his bedroom door.

Hours later, we parted with promises to keep in touch, and the warm feeling which making friends brings.