At the park a couple weeks back, I watched Mia break into a smile as she broke into an aimless run with Jane and I couldn’t help weeping. It had been a bleary kind of week, with the tough Mother’s Day and missed sleep, so I’d been consciously trying real hard to pull the nose up.
But that was the last day we would see Jane. Her family is moving to California. I’m sad for myself – Jane’s mom Kristen, she of the merry and continuous laugh and the good advice and the implacable good will, has been a great friend. She was one of the first friends I made when we moved here. But it was the world we imagined for our daughters together that makes me cry. We talked of Jane and Mia playing together on our high school basketball team. They have seen each other almost every week for the past three years.
At the end of playtime we walked Jane and her mom and her two little brothers to their van, hugged with promises of keeping in touch.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” said Mia so we waved and walked toward the park district building. On the steps, I told the girls to wait, so we could wave as Jane and Kristen and the boys pulled away. Their van pulled out and drove by. We called “Bye!” and Mia ran a few steps towards them, waving one last time.
Kristen called, “Bye, Mia!” out the open window. Mia laughed and ran back towards me, smiling. California means nothing to her. When I told her, “Jane and Thomas and Linus are moving to California. Jane’s going to be a Cali-girl!” I might have well have said, “Jane’s going to time travel to the 18th century!”
(Last week, in the cement cave of a Chicago underground parking lot, I asked Nora where we were and she replied, “Mexico!”)
It was Mia’s smile as she turned away from their departing car and ran back to me that got me. That is truly living in the moment. She is not anticipating the missing, the empty feeling. She doesn’t even know what loss is. She was just happy right then and there.