It’s the best thing about being six years old–that you don’t yet know the boundaries adults sometimes put on friendship. You don’t think about age or race or economic level as a difference that alienates. You form friendship based on common interests and on whether the other person likes to play with you and if he makes you laugh and whether he listens to your stories.
Miyani had come from their house with her lunch–two large, stale croissants. Zacahry had eaten lunch and took his brownie outside to finish on the front porch where they could sit side-by-side. He watched as she ate her first croissant.
She finished the first roll and offered him the second.
She had already nibbled the whole way around the outer edge.
“No, thanks,” he said to a second offering while watching as she threw it into the air. “Here comes a bat!” he yelled while waving the brownie making it fly around her head.
She laughed at his antics.
She smashed the croissant between her hands shaping it into a giant ball then tipping her face toward the sky smashed the whole thing into her mouth. Croissant crumbs covered her cheeks and the side of her face where it had crumbled on the way to her mouth.
Her cheek bulged with the big ball of dough inside and it took a few minutes before she could swallow it.
Indiscriminate friendship is what I loved most about watching Zachary and the neighbor kids playing together. They can’t play together anymore because Miyani’s family moved away very suddenly about a year ago.
We were out of town for a weekend the day they moved, and we didn’t get to say good-bye. For a long time we lived in denial hoping against hope that the stacks of belongings they had left behind meant that they were coming back to take some more of their belongings.
Moving, we’ve found out since living here for two years, is not always a process of dreaming and planning and packing boxes. The stratagizing and purging and selling and labeling, the fixing up broken hinges and painting over Sharpie scribbles on the wall and giving the house one last cleaning that we do before moving is not a part of everyone’s process.
We say moving is not for the faint of heart. I suppose these children might say that, too, after they’re adults and they realize what sudden uprooting has done to their hearts.
It’s ironic–the way there has always been this restlessness at not having been able to say goodbye to our neighbors when I’m the one who doesn’t like goodbyes. I think it’s mostly because I wish I could have been a better advocate.
I wish I could give her another bath, warm up her sandwich and add food to her plate, or help with her homework, yes all of those. Even more, and tears form every time I think of this, I wish I would have stormed some doors to better advocate for her. After I became so convinced this precious girl was being abused I made a few phone calls to report it, but the calls ended with no satisfaction. I tried more than once. I prayed. But that’s all I did, and it sickens me now.
This child taught us so much about love and friendship and what life looks like when your parents turn your world upside down. We miss her like crazy. The stab in my heart will never go away because I probably will never know any more of her story. I’ll never know she’s safe and I’ll always wish I had done more.