This is my do-over post for the weekend. Last spring I had to complete a do-over run after a miserable experience on the roads that left me wondering why I had laced up, and after hitting “Publish” yesterday, I walked out of the coffee shop with the same feeling.
Student C emailed me two weeks ago a short email. Just two lines really. She was not going to be able to come back to school due to money. And she had passed math, a major hurdle at her previous school and a cause of stress throughout the fall. I couldn’t believe my eyes. C and I had been working together throughout the fall, meeting, talking and just getting to know one another through the school. During our final meeting before Christmas, I felt like I was just beginning to know her. That last session included more of her family story than I had ever heard before. In that conversation, I realized what a warrior spirit was sitting beside me and I was excited to grow from one another this spring. And now, an email that took less than a minute to read was changing everything.
I asked for details from C as well as checked in with a staff member to see if this could possibly be true after all of her hard work. After a few emails back and forth, C asked if we could meet and I quickly agreed. This had to be a mistake.
We sat together in my office, and within a few minutes I had to close the door as tears slowly ran down her face. There was no mistake. A few phone calls with another department confirmed there were only two ways for C to stay in school and both options required parental help. In talking with C it was obvious that the parental help was not going to happen. That small window I saw through in December was still just as dusty as before. One parent could not, in their opinion, help financially and the other had not been there before and would not start supporting now. I sat there, trying to find word and plans of encouragement as I saw hope escaping the conversation. I wanted to speak a new vision into the room, a view that did admit to this road block but was not stopped by it. I had to hold on for the girl, the woman before me who was just holding herself together.
Our conversation ended with a plan for the next step, but nothing solid for the one beyond it, the one that truly mattered. For the rest of the week, that conversation loomed in the back of my mind, leading to prayers and tears for how financial aid, education, and parental responsibility ought to support a warrior spirit. The conversation, and the loss in C’s eyes, hurt and still hurt.
And yet, there is goodness in that hurt. That pain means our relationship was more than an item on a check list. That pain means two strangers really can care for one another over a short period of time. That pain means that even with other work struggles and responsibilities, there is room to care about the individual.
“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” (William Shakespeare).
If you feel pain, do we not love that much more fiercely? (Meg DuMez)
Student C, we are not done.