Tonight I had a few extra minutes before class, so I wandered down memory lane in the building I teach in. I hadn't taken that route down that corrider, into the bathroom and next to the classroom that I had taught in so many mornings for almost two years. I walked in and looked in the mirror, since I had snuck a glance of myself so many times in that mirror that semester. You see, the last time I had looked in that mirror, my pregnant self was looking back. I peered at myself closely tonight in that mirror and marveled at how things could be so different with that person looking back, even though the surroundings were completely the same. I could feel what I felt back then, the excitement, the anxiety, the endless possibilities. I want to tell that person to treasure those moments. I want to whisper in her ear that she is fine and things will all work out, that God has been with her every step of the way and all of her dreams of having a beautiful baby have come true.
But I ache for her, because so much else has changed in her life in those short 20 months or so. How could anyone have told that determined spring-in-her-step pregnant teacher that the boss that she had had for all of those years, so kind and gentle, loved by the entire university community would pass away that coming fall? That the work place she had known and thrived in for several years would be completely alien to her in term of leadership and direction as she reintered it after the baby was born? That her husband's family would also suffer tragic losses of family members and a year later she would lose the beloved pet of seven years that was her comfort and by her side during the physical ups and downs of those days, who was "the baby" before the baby came?
I guess now I know why I had been avoiding that particular route to get to my classroom. As I walked out of the bathroom and directly past the classroom where I would spend three consecutive hours teaching I was aware a few casual glances the students sitting on the benches outside of the door. I remembered sitting on those benches between my classes, resting in between with a yogurt drink or a granola bar. I remember joking about how the baby was hungry, or the day I taught body parts to those classes and as I pointed to my stomach, and pausing dramatically said: "el estómago graaaande". For someone who tends to forget things easily, the memories of that semester come back fast and furiously just by stopping by. By going back there, I desperately want to restore what has been lost but wasn't yet at that moment. I want to go back by going back, but there is no pathway that can lead me there.
And yet, that's just as it should be because I am not that person who I saw glimpses of in that mirror. Who could have told me I would become who I am today, because of this little being who sits on my lap and squeezes my hand and gives me spontaneous hugs and breaks into spontaneous, joyful laughter as she sees the panda bear or Elmo in one of her videos? Who was I before this little one entered my life? How did I exist before I knew her?
I can't make sense of the loss we suffer in this lifetime. But sometimes I think that God gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. I needed my Angel girl and she arrived just on time in May, at the end of that semester.