How do you help a child cope with the loss of her best friend?
I wish I knew.
Vivi and Charlotte have been inseparable for years. They spend hours playing together, sharing secrets, and planning sleep overs and dance parties. Charlotte, who is two and a half years older, proudly proclaimed that she and Vivi are like sisters because they "have blue eyes and almost exactly the same hair except that Vivi's is curly and brown and [hers] is straight and blonde." Vivi says they are sisters because Charlotte saw her when she "was just three days old." They love each other and that affection is frequently expressed in love notes Vivi draws for Charlotte and the way Charlotte looks after Vivi on the school bus.
This is my daughter's first love affair and it is ending. Charlotte is moving... to New Zealand.
I adore Charlotte and her family. I feel like I am a better mother because Charlotte's mother sets such a great example for me. It is a loss for all of us but what brings me to tears is seeing how painful this move is for my kid. I know we should count our blessings (Skype and email) but that is a small consolation to a six-year old whose whole world revolves around Charlotte.
As parents, we've given Vivi and Charlotte as much as we can in these final days. (Bedtimes? Forget it. Sleep-overs two school nights in a row? Of course.) We all know it is a consolation and a small one at that.
So today, as the moving trucks pull up next door and Vivi graduates kindergarten, I am thinking about the passage of time-- how I never would have envisioned this friendship when little Charlotte toddled over with her mother to see "the new baby" or how having a good friend and neighbor can change your life.
I framed this picture and gave it to both Vivi and Charlotte. They loved it but I think Vivi summed up the friendship best:
"Mama, I will hold this in my heart forever."