You may remember that back in the summer my husband David built Anna a turtle pond in our backyard. It was so big and elaborate that I nick-named it the Taj Ma-Turtle. (You can read the post about it here.)
In residence were three turtles: Slash (Anna’s pet who lived in a tank in her room for a year, Yoshi (an adorable tiny red-bellied slider Anna found in the lake) and Jerry, a musk turtle, also found in the lake.
We saw Yoshi more than any of the others. I’d often catch him sunning himself on the rock in the middle of the pond but he’d dash in the water as soon as he saw me. Anna, however could catch him whenever she wanted. She held him often and he got used to her quickly.
Yesterday, David found Yoshi upside down on the bottom of the pond. He was barely alive. After searching the internet our best guess was that the cold water was the problem — older, larger turtles can handle the temperature changes but it’s harder on the little guys. So we brought him inside and put him on a towel with a heating pad underneath to see if that would help. It didn’t. The little guy passed away. Anna was heartbroken. She called her friend Olivia to tell her the news, unable to hold back the tears on the phone.
Later that evening Olivia showed up at our house with two gifts — a ball and a big, floppy stuffed dog — as well as a note for Anna. She wrote that she was sorry Anna was sad and that maybe the dog would cheer her up and that she could name it Yoshi if she wanted. P.S. She didn’t have to name it Yoshi, it was just an idea.
Olivia’s sweet gesture made all the difference in Anna’s night. I was dreading bedtime because I figured the sadness would hit her again. But instead, she cuddled up with the floppy dog and thought about what a good friend she has in Olivia. I told Anna that that’s one good thing about going through a hard time, you learn what good friends you have. I told her about how my friends showered me with meals, notes, new pajamas, hats, scarves, water bottles, lotions, blankets, movies…everything I could possibly need or want when I was sick.
If we didn’t have hard times every now and then, we might not know the depth and breadth of the love our friends have for us. I was so impressed to see these two 8-year-old girls already knowing the power of friendship. And I am so thankful that Anna has a friend like Olivia.
Sara Ellington is the author of The Mommy Chronicles: Conversations Sharing the Comedy and Drama of Pregnancy and New Motherhood (Hay House, 2005) and The Must-Have Mom Manual (Ballantine/Random House, April 2009) now available at Target!