It was a year ago this week when I was so nervous about starting school at UWT (University of Washington Tacoma) that I couldn’t even braid my own hair. I’d been braiding my own hair for fifteen years, but on that particular morning, I couldn’t manage it. It was as if I had forgotten how. That’s never happened to me before or since. It shows just how freaked out I was on that first day of school a year ago this week.
This year’s first day of school was quite a different experience as I sat in my Social Welfare Research class. I greeted friends I hadn’t seen all summer. We hugged and talked and sat next to each other, and it felt just right.
Several of us got there early, and we managed to sit close as we began to catch up with one another. *Billie asked me if I had sold my house yet, and I told her no. Then, she asked how things were going around the whole housing situation, and I quietly went into some details that I haven’t shared with too many people. I told her of some of the hardships I’ve had this summer, and how the house we’ve moved into isn’t near completed. We talked about the Christian aspect of all of this, and some of the lessons Larry and I are learning. She was supportive and understanding.
A few minutes later, as that conversation wound down, *Jamie joined in and asked Billie how she was feeling about the sudden passing of her mother. At first I felt terrible that I hadn’t mentioned this. I had been so wrapped up in my own problems that I hadn’t reached out to Billie as she dealt with this sorrowful loss. I found myself beginning to berate myself. When would I ever learn? How could I expect to be a decent social worker if I couldn’t look past my own situation and into someone else’s heart who was suffering from loss? Then, I decided to give myself a break.
When Billie and I were talking about my troublesome summer, she was taking care of me. That’s exactly how it felt, and that was okay. Then, Jamie stepped in and took care of Billie. I joined in, but the care was instigated by Jamie. That was okay, too. I mean, isn’t this how it’s supposed to be? Aren’t we supposed to be taking care of each other? It’s okay for someone to take care of me for a few minutes, and it’s all right for someone other than me to take care of someone else.
As the professor started class, we all turned our attention to the lecture, but I realized, I had already learned my first lesson from my senior year.
*I asked permission from both Jamie and Billie to write about them in this blog post.