If You Didn't Know Her

A long time ago, when my daughter was so little that she was just a bundle of turbulence and fun, I met a camp counselor at her school, named Ariyana. I remembered her name because she reminded me of a princess, and she always had the biggest smile on her beautiful face.. no matter what the kids were doing. As part of her job of signing in the kids to and from camp, she was often sitting in the shade on hot summer mornings, and her face always shone upward, I can remember that clearly. Not only did she work for Country Day during the summer, but as an after-school camp counselor as well. Working her way up and up, she eventually became an assistant teacher for the coveted Pre-K class, which her daughter eventually joined. How proud Ariyana must have been to have her daughter in her class. There was an invisible thread that connected Ariyana to everyone who had a child at Country Day, as well as those who knew her as a colleague. This thread gave the parents supreme confidence that our kids were more than entertained, and accounted for. This thread followed us home as we needed an extra few minutes to run an errand and we knew our kid was being cared for by Ariyana at camp. This thread drew us in to her as we walked, or ran to camp looking wildly around for our child, and Ariyana just smiled, and said calmly, "Charlie.. your mom's here."

After so many years, Ariyana and I developed a rapport between the time that she called Charlie over, and the time it took Charlie to stop playing. So we would talk. We talked about a lot. Most memorably  about her journey into mommy hood. She was so calm, happy and excited. After her little girl was born.. maybe it was 9 mos or so, she asked me about taking a cruise with her husband and leaving her little one with her mother-in-law. I remember our many conversations on this subject and the fine line I felt I needed to walk, wanting to encourage her to go, but also not being a pushy Country Day mom who knows it all.  I told her it was an opportunity not to be lost. She eventually did go with her husband and always thanked me for my encouragement.

Years later, as my daughter outgrew camp, I saw Ariyana less and less. She actually babysat Charlie a few times and we would laugh about that, she knew us very well, even though I didn't know her well enough. In fact, as much as I saw that big smile on a regular basis, I didn't know she became a teacher's assistant for Pre-K at Country Day.  Ariyana, I am damn proud of you for that accomplishment.

The tragedy that occurred two nights ago is unfathomable. It is unfathomable to our school, to our kids, and to our community. It is impossible to believe that she is gone, it is more than impossible. None of us have imagined that in one moment, our kids will be without their mother. Much less, not knowing her. I want to scream, and I have.. "WHY HER!!???"

I found my daughter silently shaking and crying last night. She asked me to sleep with her and I did, so grateful to God that I am here to do so.  I can't help but wonder how to help Ariyana's daughter and baby son. They will never know their mother except through our words. Write them down. Please keep her memory alive, even if it is a sliver of her bright light. It will all add up to the star she forever will be. God bless you in heaven Ariyana.