“A joy that has been hidden will always resurface.”

Even before she stepped off the bus, I noticed her downcast eyes and slumped shoulders. The brown-eyed, double-hair-braided little girl trudged on the cold, wet sidewalk dragging her pink-colored UGGs.

I treaded cautiously toward my seven-year-old. My heart in a worry. She had either gotten into a fight with another child at school, or didn’t pass her spelling test that she was scheduled to have earlier in the day.

I exhaled loudly and met her at front of our house ready to embrace her with a loving mother’s hug, hoping to wash whatever she was feeling away. After all, it was my job to carry the sunshine even on those gloomy days.

However, before I even had a chance to open my arms, she jumped into me, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“She’s gone, Mommy. She’s gone,” she cried.

I was caught off guard. Who? “Who’s gone? What happened?”

Sniffling, she looked up at me. “Oh, Mommy. I told you already. Why don’t you listen to me when I talk?” She stomped away toward our door and turned. “Melissa, that’s who. She moved.”

The screen door slammed behind her. I straightened just as my neighbor walked on by with his daughter. He smiled. A look that said he understood. He had two daughters of his own and he often recounted the drama in their household.

“Rough day, eh?”

I nodded. “Apparently.”

I went in and looked for her. She lay face down on top of her bed. I settled quietly on the edge of her comforter. Not sure what to say, but remembering several weeks ago when my daughter had mentioned that her best friend, Melissa, was going to be moving. Not just moving across town, but out-of-state, and out of the country. For good. I brushed it off then. The little girl lived in our neighborhood, our girls played together most days. I spoke with the parents, her father, on a regular basis at the bus stop. Surely he would have mentioned something. I scratched my head. There was no For Sale sign outside their home, either.

I leaned over and encircled my arms around my baby’s tiny frame. “Can you tell me what happened?” I whispered in her ear.

She sat up and rubbed her eyes. “Melissa wasn’t on the bus this morning.”

“I know. I was there. Maybe she was sick.”

“No, Mommy. She wasn’t. She came later. And, she walked in our room with Mr. Gratson (the principal).”

She paused. I caressed her arms.

“Mr. Gratson told the classroom, Melissa was leaving to go out of the country and they were cleaning out her desk.” She huffed. “Mommy, he asked us to hug her and say goodbye. She looked so sad. Why would her Daddy take her out of school?”

I didn’t know what to say. “Well, maybe she’s going on vacation.”

She glared at me. “No. No, she’s not. She left. How many times do I have to tell you? Now, I have no best friend.”

I closed my eyes. Images of the last two years flashed in my mind of their many playtimes. Melissa was a dark-haired, dark skinned, quiet little girl. Her eyes were large, and she always had a smile. Together, the girls enjoyed wonderful dress up games, Barbie playing, and giggles, lots of giggles. My daughter looked like a light had gone out. Her eyes were puffy and swollen. Her whole world had just come crumbling down.

I knew the pain she was feeling. I remembered too when my best friend, Richard, a plump, rosy-cheeked, blondish-haired boy who lived several houses from where I lived, had moved when I was nine. We did everything together. Played cops and robbers, attended the same grammar school, did our communion together. Both parents joked we would get married someday. That summer when he moved, I was completely devastated. In fact, it was long summer.

I stroked her hair out of her eyes, and brushed a tear that was making its way down her face. “I’m sorry, Melissa left. I’m sorry you are sad. I am too. She was a very nice girl.”

Burying her face in my chest, she shook. “Who will be my best friend now?”

I could have easily responded, “Don’t worry, you’ll find more friends.” But, that would have sounded so silly, and so cliché. My daughter didn’t want a solution. She wanted comfort. We all do at some point. Comfort that whatever we are going through will eventually fade. I knew she’d slowly get over this. It would take time. For now, I would let her grieve in her own way.

I sighed. I wish I could keep her little. This was a huge problem for her.

Someday, she’ll be a teenager and the issues much more complicated. As a parent, you wish you could take away all your children’s fears, pains, and sorrows. But, the truth is, you can’t. It is how they learn to deal with the life curves that will come their way.

This world is not easy. There are big problems and small ones. But, I believe they are there to give us hope for a better tomorrow. A piece of innocence to hold onto. A joy that has been hidden will always resurface.

I prayed. Silent thoughts to well-wish Melissa on her new life adventure. A wish for my daughter to savor the wonderful time she had with her friend, and to look for new friends to share one day when she was ready.

I kissed her forehead. “Hey, guess what I saw today?”

She looked up. “What?”

I smiled, recalling the wonderful image. “A rainbow.”

My daughter straightened. “How? It’s been cloudy all day.”

I laughed. “I guess it was God’s way of shedding some color in the midst of today’s dark circles.”

Her frown became a grin. “I like rainbows, Mommy. They bring brightness to the sky.”

I nodded. “Yep. So do I.”