For the past two days, I’ve been struggling with a horrible empty feeling. I was hyper aware of it today. I was teaching the little autistic girl, who is the sweetest, loveliest child I’ve ever had the pleasure of teaching. She needs a lot of attention and she is very affectionate, needing sign language to communicate, and she needs a hug to reassure her once in a while. She jumped into my arms today, pressing her cheek to mine and keening, and that hole was there, the hole in my chest. She loved me teaching her to dance and she loved spending time with me, and her simple innocence was so touching.
The world must be a very frightening and difficult place for her, but she has an anchor in her mother, and for some reason, she has found another in.my teaching. I felt like we understood each other perfectly in that moment- two girls who are cast adrift in life, and need support, find half an hour of solace in the ballet studio. She, with her lack of words and her sign language, and I, with my lack of sanity.
She is another ray of light for me. She just trusts me, and she doesn’t place conditions on her affection. Her mother said to me that since my sister and I have been teaching her, there is a marked improvement in her concentration.
It’s bittersweet. If I died, she wouldn’t have me as an anchor, but I know that I’m not a stable anchor for her. One day, I will sink to the ocean floor, and she will be left clinging in confusion to her mother, wondering what happened to rock her boat.