I received an e-mail from Mary Grace's teacher today. The mother of one of Mary Grace's classmates (I'll call her Marly, but that isn't her name), is dying of breast cancer.
Me: Marly is your friend, right?
Me: How has she been lately?
MG: She's sad.
Me: Can you tell me why?
MG: Her dad, he brought her and her sisters into her room, and he told them something really sad.
She looked at the floor.
Me: Do you know what the sad thing was?
MG: Her Mom....... I think she died.
My heart breaks.
Me: No honey, she hasn't died, but she's going to soon. And that's very sad.
MG: Marly is sad. But at least I still have you, Mommy.
She hugs me. I look up and hope for the right words to come to me, knowing that she doesn't really know what dying means.
Me: Yes you do. And I love you so much. And Marly and her mom love each other, too. It's very sad, because Marly won't have her mom with her anymore. So I want you to do something for me.
Ever eager to please, Mary Grace looks at me. I think she's relieved to have a plan.
Me: I want you to be extra nice to Marly. I want you to be a really good friend. We need to help her, because she's going to be really sad, ok? It's important that we love her and we take care of her. You can do that, right?
MG: Ok, Mommy.
And she hugs me.
And I e-mail her teacher back, and offer to take a casserole to Marly's family or something, knowing that it's not nearly enough.