A man is waiting for the bus. A mother and her young daughter walk over and join him on the bench. The daughter notices the man next to her seems sad.
“Why are you sad?” she asks.
He looks down at her, unable to conjure a smile. “You wouldn’t understand, little girl.”
She looks a little confused. “Why not?”
Her mother nudges her and gives her a look that says “leave the poor man alone.” The girl dismisses her mother’s warning quite rebelliously and turns her attention back to the man, discontent with his answer. The man looks down at her and says “Well if you must know. My wife died.”
“Why?” the girl asks.
“Dear, you mustn’t bother the man–”
“No, no. It’s okay,” the man reassures the girl’s mother. Returning his gaze to the girl, he says rather slowly “She was sick. She died a few days ago. I was just thinking about her when you came and sat down. That’s why I’m sad.”
For the first time in the conversation, he smiles. It’s a sweet, sad smile that seems to pinpoint his exact emotion.
The little girl smiles back at the man– giving him a big, toothy grin– but a moment later furrows her brow and says in her most genuine voice “I’m sorry your wife is dead.”
After a long silence, the man says “me too” and a tear rolls down his cheek. Before her mother has a chance to stop her, the girl scoots closer to the man, looks into his eye and offers him as big a hug as she can manage. He accepts the embrace and a beautiful moment is shared between the two.
The bus arrives.