At forty, Franz Kafka, who had no children, was walking through the park in Berlin when he met a girl who was crying because she had lost her favorite doll. She and Kafka searched for the doll unsuccessfully. Kafka told her to meet him there the next day and they would come back to look for her.
The next day, when they had not yet found the doll, Kafka gave the girl a letter 'written' by the doll saying, "Please don't cry. I took a trip to see the world. I will write to you about my adventures."
Thus began a story which continued until the end of Kafka's life. During their meetings, Kafka read the letters of the doll carefully written with adventures and conversations that the girl found adorable.
Finally, Kafka brought back the doll (he bought one) that had returned to Berlin. "It doesn't look like my doll at all," said the girl. Kafka handed her another letter in which the doll wrote: "My travels have changed me." The little girl hugged the new doll and took her home, happy. A year later Kafka died.
Many years later, the now-adult girl found a letter inside the doll. In the tiny letter, signed by Kafka, it said, "Everything you love will probably be lost, but in the end, love will return in another way."
There's a lot packed into this little story! The two that stand out to me, in the times we're in.. The relationship between Kafka and the child is the antidote to the child's grief and sense of loss. And it was Kafka’s letters that were the real gift of love that replaced the love of the doll. Someone cared enough for her pain to soothe her with wonderful stories of the lost doll’s adventures.
What can we do now to soothe someone's pain and fear? Let's look for love/joy to return in another way.
PS This would be a lovely time to read more Kafka.