(This story was written by Sara Borov.)
You never really know when tragedy is going to strike, and unfortunately for my Little, she suddenly faced a terrible loss at the tiny age of 6 years old.
She was not at school for a couple days, and I assumed she was just out sick. The morning that my Little and her brother returned to school that week, because of my mentor relationship with her, I was told privately the tragic news – her mother unexpectedly died.
I was supposed to have lunch with her later that day, and I was trying to wrap my head around the situation and prepare myself for what could potentially be a very, very somber lunch. Thankfully the school counselors and administrators were able to offer me advice beforehand. They said in my situation as her mentor, the best thing I could do is just be there for her — be a friend. And they were of course right.
For the first 15 minutes or so, it was a pretty normal lunch time. I didn’t bring it up in case she didn’t want to talk about it and wanted to pretend everything was normal. She also didn’t know that I already knew. When she did tell me, I pretended it was the first time I had heard the news, and I told her how incredibly sorry I was that this happened to her and her family.
She seemed to have accepted the loss and was putting on a brave face, but every once in a while, I could see the sadness crack through.
We started having lunch together more often at my Little’s request, and she was spending more time with the counselors as well. It was so relieving to see how the school truly supported her and her brother through this time of grief. There were understandably some minor behavior issues that followed, like frequently interrupting other students and finding excuses to leave the classroom, and we all did our best to help compassionately correct that misbehavior.
By the end of the school year, things seemed to have thankfully stabilized for her and her family. My Little really is a tough cookie, and I wish the very best for her. I don’t know that I’ll ever know if I had a lasting positive impact on her between our lunches and playing board games, but I’m thankful to know that during my service I helped provide at least a tiny bright spot in a dark time for her.