And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

My grandbaby Maya Mae is experiencing her first loss at the tender age of 5. When she walked into school on Monday, she discovered that her best friend, her very first best friend as she just started school this past fall in 4-K, was gone. Moved to Texas, which, to a 5-year old who doesn’t really have a sense of the largeness of the world, must feel like outer space. It’s a place with a name, but she has no idea of where it is, what it looks like. Peyton, her best friend, has been sucked down a black hole.

I picked Maya up from school that day. Maya’s mama messaged me earlier to warn me that Maya was sad.

We’ve all gone through the loss of a friend. Throughout school years, friends move away or we move away, I attended kindergarten in Berkeley, Missouri, first through fifth grades in Esko, Minnesota, sixth through tenth grades in Stoughton, Wisconsin, first semester of junior year in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, and the rest of junior year and senior year here in Waukesha. I lost friends left and right. Maya’s sadness felt like an echo.

I also recently lost my own best friend of twelve years through horrible circumstances. I am still recovering. My heart hurt for Maya.

When I picked her up, she came flying down the school stairs and ran to me with widestretched arms. As soon as I asked her what she did in school that day, she began to talk about Peyton.

“I dwew a picture for Peyton. I am going to give it to her when I see her in Tesas.” X’s are difficult in a five-year old mouth.

“I heard Peyton moved away,” I said. “I’m so sorry, Maya.”

“Yeah, I’m going to go to Tesas. I’m going to see Peyton. We will stay in a hotel. It’s okay if there’s only one bed. I have a sweeping bag.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said, “but you know that Texas is a far way away, right?”

“Yes.” Her head bobbed in my rearview mirror. “But we will go on vacation. Daddy gets vacation. He woves to dwive. We will go in the Kia Soul.”

My son is a road geek and I’m sure he would take her to Texas in a heartbeat. “Why did Peyton move, Maya?”

“Because Fwiday was her wast day.”

That’s pretty much when I melted. But then she looked me straight in the eyes via the rearview mirror. “Gamma Kaffee,” she said, “if I don’t go to Tesas wight away, how will we know each other?”

Oh, baby girl. At five years old, she realized how quickly we are encouraged to allow loss to fall off our radar. We lose someone and we’re told to look at those we have left. I’m pretty sure Maya was already told, “Yes, honey, you lost your best friend, but look! You have Mackenzie! You have Grayson! You have Logan! You have this and this and this!”

But…she lost Peyton. She lost This Special Person. And what she needed to be right then was sad.

I thought how I haven’t talked to my own best friend since January 11th. And how I would very much like to call his number, just to hear the voicemail recording and the voice I heard every day for years.

“Maya Mae,” I said. “Keep drawing pictures for Peyton and save them in a special place for when you see her again. And you know what? You can take one of your dolls and you can name her Peyton and you can talk to her like you did with Peyton. And you know what else? You can be sad. It’s okay to be sad. And then, little by little, the sad will go away. It will.”

Just like that, those little lips turned down and the eyes filled. She played very quietly for the rest of the afternoon.

So why is a sad granddaughter my Moment? Because she’s a brave little girl who won’t let her rightful sadness be brushed away under that rug where we’re all encouraged to put emotions that are seen as negative. She won’t let herself be taught that friendship can be lost and immediately replaced, but it can be lost, mourned, and finally recovered from.

In a parallel way, separated by 52 years, Maya and I are going through the same thing. And the Moment Of Happiness she gave me is that Moments Of Sadness are okay too. I hope that the Moment Of Happiness I gave her was that Moments Of Sadness are okay, but we will get through. They are, after all, Moments, not Lifetimes.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Maya Mae. 5 years old!

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