The little girl sat beneath the tree and cried.

The tree was beautiful, tall and expansive and glorious, piercing the blanket of the sky with its numerous branches. It was also dead. It wasn’t just a lose-your-leaves-in-winter, plant-hibernation kind of dead; it was actually, truly dead. There was no more life to be found within its armored body.

It wasn’t the tree for whom the little girl was crying for, but it may as well have been. And as she poured out her grief beneath its stone-cold frame, the other children in the schoolyard ignored her. Not that it mattered – they wouldn’t have understood even if they tried. But she still wished that for once in her life, someone would at least play the part. And finally, after some ten or fifteen minutes of her quiet sobs, someone did.

A boy a few grades higher than her approached with obvious hesitation. She didn’t look at him, absorbed as she was in her whirlpool of sorrow, but he didn’t let the lack of recognition stop him. He walked onward until he too was standing beneath the dead tree, just a foot or so away from the girl.

“Haku,” he said slowly. “What’s wrong?”

The little girl shook her head and continued to cry. He bit his lip and frowned a little.

“Do you want me to get the teacher?” he asked.

Another shake of the head.

“I’m just going to sit next to you,” the boy said. “Okay?”

She didn’t respond, but she didn’t shake her head, either, so he took that as a yes. He sat down beside her and silently stayed with her as she cried, and that simple, loving action meant the world.

If only, she thought.

If only more people would be like this.