Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When Loved Ones Leave

If you zoom in, you can see the tears.
I'd just told her, in the perkiest, most no-big-deal tone I could muster, that her friend was moving to another country. They'd known each other since baldness.

"That's bad news!" she sobbed, the saddest girl on the swings.

I snapped this picture of her private moment; I wasn't sure if it would be obnoxious to send it to my friend. I didn't want her to feel guilty, but I wanted to share this evidence of our four-year-old daughters' connection. I was sad for Melody, but moved that she could love so deeply at such a young age.

That was the second time this year that her reaction to a loved one leaving surprised me. The first was on July 4th, when I told her our beautiful Aunt Don died. We were on the subway, and she cried heavily, her head burrowed in my shoulder.
The kids wearing two of the hundreds of hats Aunt Don knitted in her last years.

In both cases -- death and a friend moving -- she asked a lot of thoughtful questions. As she struggled to understand the answers, she was comforted by promises of visits, a better place, etc., but her grief at the reality of no longer spending time with these people was still the prominent emotion.

She also cried in the appropriate places in Bambi recently -- another milestone.

If it seems odd that I'm stricken by what are probably pretty normal reactions of a little girl, remember this is a kid who never used to scare easily during movies and, thanks to having a big brother, was used to incorporating killing and crushing into imaginary play. So to see this sensitivity gene develop in the past year has been heartwarming. You don't wish sadness on your kids, but you do wish empathy and love and deep connections.

P.S. Don't worry, she hasn't become a complete ball of mush. She later saw the photos of her sobbing on the swing and scolded me, "Don't ever take a picture of me crying again!" Oops, remind me to delete this post when she learns how to search blog archives.

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