Sophie Orange lives in England, across the street from a wonderful gastropub called the Kings Arms, in a beautiful village called Lockerley, in a place that looks like the set for one of those PBS miniseries.
Sophie was 3,220 miles away from the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off, but she felt closer. “I saw it on the television,” she said. “It was terrible.”
Sophie decided to do something. She asked Julie Eager, the headmistress at her school, if they could have a Pajama Day and let all the 180 girls at Leaden Hall wear their pajamas to school.
“She said with the school year almost over, it was very hard to fit it in, but I kept pestering her,” Sophie said. “I decided to write a letter to Mrs. Eager listing all the pros and cons of having a Pajama Day.”
After Julie Eager saw that letter and realized that Sophie wanted to hold a Pajama Day to raise money for the people in Boston, Sophie had her.
Sophie had me at hello. By the way, did I mention that Sophie Orange is 7 years old?
She was especially moved when she saw a picture of one of the bombing victims, 8-year-old Martin Richard, holding a sign that asks people not to hurt each other.
“Martin was only one year older than me,” Sophie told me over the phone the other day. “I could not believe that someone one year older than me could be killed by a bomb.’’
I told Sophie that Martin had an older brother, Henry, and a little sister, Janey, who is the same age as Sophie.
“I didn’t know that,” Sophie said. “Are they all right?”
I explained that while Bill Richard and Henry were not badly hurt physically, Janey and her mum, Denise, were hurt very badly. I told Sophie that Janey, who was released from the hospital Thursday, is an Irish step dancer and that she wants to dance again, that we all want her to dance again.
“I would like to see her dance,” Sophie Orange said.
If there is a God, or just someone with a fat checkbook, that will happen.
There were no checkbooks at Leaden Hall on Thursday. Just a bunch of English schoolgirls with pound coins with the image of Queen Elizabeth on one side. They paid a pound for the privilege of wearing pyjamas to the last day of the school term.
After school, Sophie went for a sleepover at the home of her friend, Lydia Grecian.
“We had a lovely day,” Lydia told me. “Everybody wore their pajamas. Even Mrs. Eager.”
What made the kindness of English schoolgirls stand out even more was that the day before Pajama Day, 80 miles north of Leaden Hall, the same sort of craven hatred that exploded in Boston on Patriots Day flashed on a London sidewalk, as two Islamic extremists were accused of butchering an off-duty British soldier.
As in Boston, where we saw extraordinary acts of courage, ordinary people rushed to the side of the slaughtered solider, Lee Rigby. One woman comforted him, stroking his hair. Another confronted one of the murderers, and when he boasted that he had just started a holy war, she told him, “Well, you’re going to lose.”
Londoners, sadly, have more experience at this than us. And like us, parents across the UK were trying to figure out how to explain what happened in Woolwich to their kids.
Sophie, blissfully unaware of what happened in London, got back on the phone to remind me of something. “Don’t forget,” she said. “I want to see Janey dance.”
We all do, Sophie. We all do.