"Tell her goodbye and Happy Birthday"
Deep brown eyes turn to me in obvious pain. I place a tender hand on her shoulder and try to touch her fragile heart.
"Go on...it's OK. Just say goodbye"
I feel a shudder go through her, her eyes cast downward and my heart crashes to the floor. No words were spoken. No gesture of friendship. The friend who is just 11 months older already knows to expect this. At 6 years old she has the wisdom and gentleness to reach out to my daughter and hug her anyways; knowing there will be no hug back. Knowing though that she is loved fiercely by my little girl.
We walk to the car. Silent. She feels lost. She knows I understand. She feels insecure. She knows I understand. Halfway home and I hear the words I knew would come.
"Mom, I love her."
I stay quiet, letting her get it sorted out into words.
"We not the same."
No matter how many times I hear it, It suffocates me in its simple truth. For years we have fought the fear of social situations. We have battled having a friend who will accept. We have fought the fear of the simple of act of saying "Goodbye". We haven't lost. We will not lose. We will continue to fight and one day we will win.
She's different. I've had well meaning people make the comment that "a wire is somehow crossed" As if she has some kind of programming malfunction. "She'll grow out of being shy." Yet, she is not shy. She is exuberant and infectious. Yet there is that part of her that doesn't understand that "Goodbye" is not forever. She is obsessed almost every time her dad goes to work. She cries and rages against her feelings that he is forever lost to her. She sleeps every night with a framed picture of our family that was taken 2 years ago that includes grandparents and my sister's family. It's the only way for her to be content with the fact that they are out there and not lost.
"We not the same"
She knows there are differences. Those differences shatter her as much as me, probably more. Yet, it is those differences that cause her to stare at a rose colored sunset in complete awe until it disappears and weep that its over. Those differences gave her the gentlest touch that bonded her littlest sister to her more than anyone else. That difference gives her an intuition to emotions that has led her to hug me when I needed it and nobody else knew. The difference is what caused her to lay in the floor beside her injured puppy all night and stroke it while it still shook in terror after its attack for hours, gently wiping away blood and spoon feeding her water.
I wouldn't uncross that wire for anything.