The little girl from my kids’ school, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in November, died on Saturday. I was at a party for school faculty and staff when we got the news.
As we hugged, cried and toasted Ellie, my mind drifted to how I was going to break this news to my children. The two of them have suffered an abundance of loss. If only I didn’t have to tell them.
It is hard enough for an adult to deal with death, even though we know it’s coming. Even though we are fully aware that it is part of the cycle of life. It still hurts. I don’t like to hurt my kids. If only they didn’t have to know this pain.
Death makes our fragility abundantly clear and the death of a child reminds us that, as parents, we aren’t always in control. If only I could protect them forever.
My mom was babysitting on Saturday evening and as I walked in to greet my children and tell them Ellie had passed away, I wiped my eyes and took a deep breath. If only I could be strong.
As I gently broke the news, my eleven year old daughter started to cry. I pulled her close. If only they could bounce right back from this.
Then I turned to my hard-of-hearing son and said, “Did you hear me, buddy? Ellie died today.”
He looked up at me and said, “Oh. I have the hiccups.”
I found myself completely jealous. If only we were all so innocent.