It’s been a difficult couple weeks over here. Yesterday at the police station, on my third visit in 48 hours, the chief inspector asked if I’d read my horoscope lately. “It must be something in the stars,” he said sympathetically. Then he made me eat a plate of noodles and told me not to give up. He said everything would be okay and he looked so authoritative in his uniform, I believed him.
It’s been one thing after another, after another, one of those weeks where every time my phone rings it takes me a few seconds to gather the courage to pick it up. The hard thing about loving these kids so much is that when something bad happens it can totally knock me off my feet. When we built Kopila Valley, I honestly (and naively) thought I could pack so much love and goodness into it that my children would be safe and out of harms way and make all the right decisions... forever. If only having kids (and teenagers) were that easy. Learning these lessons is hard and the more I love them, the harder it gets.
Yesterday, on top of everything else going on, we found out that two of our students’ mother passed away unexpectedly. The girls got called out of class with the news and sent home while I was in town sitting with our local education minister discussing my visa extension and our high school registration. By the time my Dad and I got over to their little mud hut, 20 minutes up the road, the air was cool and the sun was setting. We found a few neighbors and extended relatives sitting outside as they explained what happened. When I looked inside the mud hut I saw our little girls’ mom laying there on a pile of hay and wondered if that was the way the girls had found her too. I pretended to listen to the entire story but I really just wanted to get away from the dead body, find the girls and make sure they were okay. Sure enough, we crossed paths down the dirt road and when they saw me they burst into tears. I really didn’t want to cry so I clenched my throat, gulped down my tears and somehow attempted to give them a talk about how everything was going to be okay and we were there for them and yaddy yada yah because really, what can you say to two little girls who just lost their mom? Who have already been dealt an incredibly challenging deck of cards in life, and have recently gone from begging on the streets to being hard working confident young students. It didn’t seem fair.
I kept asking them if they needed anything again and again.
"I mean anything, anything at all? Tell me what you need? Tell me what I can do, how I can help...”
I was thinking of every last physical thing I could give them. Food, money for the funeral, clothes. Something to somehow make things easier.
Pooja, one of the little girls looked at me and interrupted, “just your love. just love me.”
So I told them how much I loved them. That it was more than I could possibly ever say in words. More than I could ever reach with my two arms. I held them as tight as I could and told them everything was going to be okay.