For Bill and Igey: saying goodbye

Dear Bill and Igey,

When we first met, I wondered if you would grow up to read these stories. Your teachers were worried about you learning to read, and neither of you had really seen the Internet, so it seemed like it would be a long time before that happened.

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    Bill (left), Igey (right), and friends mount the Great Robin Chick Rescue, June 2009.
    Mary Wiltenburg
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Dear Bill and Igey,

When we first met, I wondered if you would grow up to read these stories. Your teachers were worried about you learning to read, and neither of you had really seen the Internet, so it seemed like it would be a long time before that happened.But this year, you surprised everyone. Suddenly, your parents weren't the only ones who realized how smart and funny you are. Your teachers could see it. Your friends could see it. People following these stories saw it and cared about you from across the world. And you boys not only started reading - you started going online, then on friends' Facebook pages. I know now that you will see all of this much sooner than I imagined.So as this project ends today, I want to tell you how lucky I feel to have spent this year with you. There were tough times along the way, for your family, for your school and especially for your sister. Bill, I know you didn't always enjoy all the photos and questions and attention. Thank you for being patient with me anyway.Lots of moments from the past year still crack me up: When we talked about Michael Jackson, or kissing, or the origin of the world, or life in your old refugee camp. Igey, you are hilarious even when drugged.In serious moments, I was struck by how caring you both are. One day this summer, Igey, you called me to say that three chicks had fallen out of their nest. You had rescued them, scooped them onto a paper towel, and hidden them under your bed to keep them safe. But they were chirping, and hungry, and you didn't know where to find worms.

I didn't either, so we settled for bread. You guys and Ritha and Lagos all gathered around, and Bill dropped crumbs into the robins' little yellow mouths, while Igey tried to figure out how to get them back to their mother. When they were full, you climbed the tree they had fallen out of and put them back in a new nest made of a cardboard box.

It seemed unlikely to work, and I tried to prepare you. But when we checked later that day, there was the mother bird, bustling around her boxful of babies. You were beside yourselves with joy, dancing around the parking lot shouting: "She's back! The mama! The mama is back!"

The other night, Igey, you called again, worried about the future. We talked about years from now, when you go to high school, and you asked: "Will we still know each other then?"

I said of course we will.

And you said: "But will you still come to my house?"I hope so. I'm proud to know both of you, and always will be.Love, MaryP.S. For folks listening in: Our series concludes today with a final video, and a look back at the spiritual life of the International Community School in the past year.We don't know yet whether Neema will be able to join her brothers in the US, but we'll have updates on this site as things unfold in the months ahead. I'll keep writing about the boys too, in the "Reporter's Notebook" section of my own website, on Twitter, and hopefully in a forthcoming book. For now, though, thank you all for your encouragement, wisdom, and great questions over a remarkable year.

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