Nearly five years ago, on our way home from first grade one afternoon, my conversation with my then 7-year-old daughter went like this:
“You know, Mom, I’ve been friends with some of the girls in my class for a while. But there’s another girl who I think is going to become a really good friend,” Greer said.
So far. So good.
Greer continued, “At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure, because she’s really into learning about other cultures and stuff. But now I know, Charlotte and I will be good friends.”
I was happy to hear of the new friend but a little concerned about the possible budding xenophobic tendencies in my daughter.
“But Greer, you’re really into learning about other cultures and stuff, too,” I said (and hoped).
To which she replied, “It’s my life, Mom, and I’m into killer whales.”
Killer whales had recently replaced dinosaurs. Which had replaced Thomas. We’ve since gone through Hogwarts, Elphaba and vampires. But since that day and through a string of Greer’s preoccupations, Charlotte has remained a constant.
Charlotte is and has been Greer’s best friend. Anyone who knows Charlotte can vouch that a mother could search a thousand years or miles and not find a more gentle, kind, caring, level-headed, compassionate or wise friend.
By the time you read this, she and her family will be off to their new lives. In true Charlotte “into other cultures” style, they’re not loading up the U-Haul and moving to Houston. Or any U.S. city or state, for that matter.
Nope, they’re moving to India.
I understand why. They have family there. They have great opportunities there. Charlotte and her brother will attend a fantastic school. In many ways, their lives will be less complicated.
But, oh how we will miss them.
A few weeks ago, Kitty Clarke, a friend from my hometown, and I were talking about hometown memories. Kitty, always insightful, said, “I guess I think growing up is so very hard even in the best of circumstances. All of the emotions — good and bad — have so little context that they are all overwhelming.”
I needed to be reminded of that thought and am grateful for Kitty’s wisdom which has helped me be a better parent lately. Anyone who ever had a best childhood friend move away knows that there is a great deal of sadness involved. Greer has been shedding tears, writing poems and dreading this day for months. Even still, I’ve encouraged her to be supportive for Charlotte. Brave little Charlotte doesn’t show it, but the move has to be causing chaos in her head as well.
With the wonders of the Internet — e-mail, videos and Skype – they’ll be able to stay in touch. Plus, we plan to visit next year. The girls surely will remain a part of each other’s lives.
However, all the technology in the world does little to soften the blow of a best friend moving away.
Godspeed, dear Charlotte.