The thing is that I think C is safe. This isn’t an entirely a logical conclusion. It’s a gut-level kind of feeling. There is some logic involved, but it’s tenuous. I wouldn’t put money on that line of logic, let alone someone’s welfare. But it does feel that way. It feels to me she is safe.

The logic begins with the idea that she is not in touch with friends or with me, and that means her lack of contact has nothing to do with me. It is entirely a C-thing, to find herself in a different setting and totally remove herself from the old one. It means she is probably busy managing the attachments in front of her, rather than reaching for ones that feel more distant. If she were in a crisis, she would be reaching. That is Piece A. Piece B is that she posted pictures after football camp ended that were taken in a place not on the way to anywhere that would be logical for her to go. Unless she were going to visit her aunt in Big Southern City whom she really wants to see. Her parents weren’t going to allow her to go, but if she managed to get there, then she is more clever than I thought at getting her needs met. And they are needs. This aunt is someone she feels very close to and very loved by. The aunt is an important attachment figure.

Piece C and D are connected: on the one hand, her parents were supposed to come and collect their belongings from their old house by now. I don’t know if they came or not but C was supposed to arrive here and meet them. The thing is she is not here. I had an idea that if a problem were to arise, it would be when the family was reunited, when the parents were together and C was with them, and they had an opportunity to argue about her and to take revenge by depriving her of something she really wants, which is to study in Y-town. She has not come. Therefore, the moment when crisis might have been likely to arise never happened. C told me she was not coming to Y-town until February 11th. Her mom said C was coming January 24th or 25th. I thought C lied to me, but I think now she was merely relating the plan she was working on independently. I think she did it. I think she managed to avoid meeting her step-dad and managed to avoid the point when a conflict in the family might be more likely.

I don’t know where she is—with her aunt, or with her grandparents in her village. I have no idea. But I do not think she is in the city where her stepdad was transferred. If she were, she would have located a phone (her own is still switched off) and found a way to complain about it to someone I know. And somehow I think the point when that might have happened has past. I think it won’t happen.

Anyway, that is the logic. As I said, the feeling is not about the logic really. It’s a felt sense. She is safe. I believe she is safe.

Perhaps this comes partly from realizing what my own priorities were: I wanted her here. I wanted her in a boarding school, where there would be time set aside specifically for study although I know students can still manage to waste it. I wanted her within my reach, so that I can give extra help, because she is so far behind she will need it. I wanted her away from whatever problems there are at home. I care about her as a whole person and as someone with largely unmet developmental needs. But I wanted her here at our high school. And I think I did that. I think I helped her with what she needed help with and asked for help with and I think I did the thing I could do that would give her a chance at life.

When I came back from the Capitol City and realized I cannot meet her developmental needs—I cannot really parent her—I think I started to feel all might be lost. But I was doing that patching gaps thing. What ought a mom to do? She has said I am her mom, like real mom, and she cannot hurt me. It is my option where to keep her. Minus the spelling errors, that is a quote from her in one of our chats. What did she need from me?

I don’t know, but she needed me to stand up for her, and I did. Diplomatically, carefully, more in actions than in words. Maybe that is what she needed. At any rate, I think it gave her a confidence to stand up for herself. I remember her excitement after I talked to her dad and then he spoke to her about it: he gave her a choice, and she chose to stay here. She related to me his response to everything I have told her. She did not tell me she told him these things, but she must have. She must have told him I am promising all these things for her future.

He said he would pay for private school for her if she did not get a place in Class 11. Well, I suppose my generosity shamed him into saying that, but it’s a good thing. It means she won’t see herself as someone likely to only complete until Class 10—she is not a strong student and may not win herself a coveted 11th grade slot. It means even if the money is not really there later, the promise that she will be allowed to go has been made and the money can come from somewhere else.

She gives me a great deal of joy—I struggled so much with that joy when it first began to make itself felt. How can I feel joy in being alive when everyone else died? But more than my joy, I wanted this particular situation for her where I felt she would be safe. And I think I did that.