It should be easier to tell a child about death.
They’re unclouded by past circumstance, after all, unable to completely grasp anything so absolute.
And that is what makes it so hard.
Their eyes grow wide where an adults’ would brim with tears.
They ask questions. “Why Mommy?”
And you can’t answer.
I can’t answer.
Stirring their oatmeal in the wrong direction can send them into hysterics while a bump on the noggin at the playground is ignored in favor of jumping in the sandbox.
And so it can be with death. Sometimes they shrug and head outside to play.
Sometimes they cuddle up to the ones they know need them most, wrap their little arms around you and just squeeze.
It’s when they climb out of your lap, and fix their eyes on you, that you wipe furiously at your own and try to pretend it’s all going to be alright.
Because it is, isn’t it? They believe it will be.
They tell you to fix it, and even when you say you can’t, they insist. “Yes, you can. Yes, Mommy, yes.”
I can’t tell her that a man who died last week in North Branch, who she followed around at times like a little lost puppy, will not be coming back.
And I can’t tell her why.
So what can I do? I can tell his family that a little girl adored him. That his kindness and goodness made him her buddy, his heart her pal.
And when it came time to tell a little girl about death, she just wanted him back.
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