One of the students I tutor is an 11 year old girl. Very sweet and smart, and very giggly when she’s with me. We’re goofy together, and I think that’s partly because I still feel like I’m 11. She can start to feel more like a friend than a student at times.
Anyway, she told me last week that today was going to be her last day coming in for tutoring, and, since next weekend is going to be my last day, I took it in stride and assumed it was because her parent’s didn’t think she needed it anymore, which she really doesn’t. I’m going to miss all my students when I leave, but I do have favorites (shhh, don’t tell!) and there’s no doubt that I’m going to miss some more than others.
She told me today, after quite a deliberation since she wanted to tell me but felt like she had to ask her mom first as they’re keeping it quiet til it’s final, that they’re moving to Denmark.
Denmark! I was overcome all day by a sense of incredible sadness about this, although I was and still am very excited for her. Why the sadness at this news when it wasn’t as if I was going to see her anywhere even if she was still in Houston? I feel as if it’s because I know, through personal experience, how important this age is. She’s only 11, and if they stay there for 3 years like she said, she’s going to spend some of her most formative years in a country that’s completely foreign.
It’s exciting being a third culture kid, but it matters a whole lot what kind of school she’s at and who her classmates will be. That’s a given in any situation I know, but it’s so much more important in a third culture situation. I was overwhelmed because I felt as if I wanted to keep her here to keep her safe. It’s illogical, but I guess this is what parents must feel at an even deeper level. It must be because I see her here, know she’s happy in her school, and trust the people she interacts with on a daily basis. Is that silly? I just felt so powerless when she told me she’s moving, and so very, very sad. It was a very heartfelt prayer that sprang up within me, and itches to get out now whenever I think about it; that she’s safe and happy wherever she is, Insha’Allah.
It’s funny how distance makes such a difference. You can be in the same town, never see someone, and still feel very connected. It must be because they’re so very accessible. It can be so easy to feel this way; that someone can be contacted in an instant if you live in the same city with them, yet we never stop to think about how fragile life is, and how easy it is for years to go by feeling this accessibility, never using it, and suddenly something happens and they’re not there anymore.
Yet, when someone is hundreds or thousands of miles away, even with all of today’s technology I feel distant from them. Kind of separated, and unsure of how to effectively communicate to them everything I want to.
So my dua holds for all my friends, but especially for my 11 year old friend and student: may God keep you safe, happy, and on the straight path always. Ameen.