Once upon a time, there was a little girl.
She was quiet and self-possessed, which was good, because she had a new baby sister.
She was pretty, and very bright. Her mother loved her, but her father took her seriously.
Her mother worked hard at teaching other little girls and taking care of the family because the father was very sick.
She had a favorite thing: A record that played the story of Snow White. It was the early ‘40s and not many little girls had records of their own which they were allowed to play whenever they wanted. Not many little girls were trusted with something both expensive and fragile.
Not many little girls had fathers who took them very seriously. And not many little girls had fathers who were dying right in front of them.
Perhaps our little girl knew she needed to store all of her father’s love and wisdom, every bit, enough to last the rest of her life and to pass along to her children and grandchildren. But that seems like a lot to ask of a 5-year-old.
Our little girl knew she wanted to help. Her father needed to be read to and fed and bathed. He needed to feel like a father to a little girl who needed a lifetime of love and wisdom given to her as quickly as possible. She took care of him and listened to him. He told her she was smart and loving and owned her place in the world.
Her father knew that it is never right to be afraid to love. Her father knew that beautiful things can’t last.
Her father knew that she was still a little girl and needed to enjoy her favorite thing, that record that played the story of Snow White.
She played it over and over, and she loved it very much.
And then one day, the little girl with the dying father realized that beautiful things do not last forever.
She realized that when something beautiful ends, it hurts very, very much. She was terrified.
The little girl with the dying father and the busy mother took her favorite thing, her record that played the story of Snow White, and she smashed it into little bits, because she couldn’t bear the waiting. She couldn’t bear knowing pain was coming, but not when it would hit her.
The little girl grew up to be a serious young lady, and then a wise old woman. She taught her children and grandchildren that it is never right to be afraid to love. She taught her children and grandchildren that beautiful things do not last forever, which is why you must be brave and love them while they last. She taught them that it is never right to hurt on purpose. She taught them never to break something beautiful because you are afraid to lose it.