Today in class, the teacher was asking us about optimization for different stages of life. "What is an optimization program for a premie?" she asked, and I suggested touch therapy. A woman turned around from one of the front rows of the class and stared at me in astonishment. I gazed back, just as astonished. She was in that horrible psych class with me. She'd lost so much weight that I did not recognize her.
After class, I waited for her, and she walked back saying how glad she was to see me, and that she'd move back to where I sat next class. It was a relief to her to see a familiar face in the class, and, really, it's a relief to me as well. There is another girl from A and P who is friendly enough, but she's much younger. M and I are closer in age, both of us mothers, both of us working and juggling. We were the two oldest students in the psych class if I remember correctly, and the teacher had us both gnashing our teeth. We had a common bond there, and helped each other get through that fiasco. We walked down the hall talking, and I said, "You look really great!" and she said flatly, "My husband and I have separated." Not sure what to say, I said, I dumbed around. In frustration, she said, "I can't deal with school right now, yet I'm afraid to take a semester off. I'm afraid I'll just never come back." She finally decided to give herself a break, take this semester as a part time student while she gets it all figured out. I said "That's wisest, I think. You've got kids, and you cannot keep them on an even keel when you're stretched so tautly that you can barely keep yourself aright." And she said, "Yes." That's all. We parted and strode off briskly in our own directions.
The bewildered look on her face stays with me. I want to help, somehow. I remember what it felt like to feel like she looked. I remember my own dark days and vow to be the friend to her that I longed for back then.