Parents were huddled together. Some stood with their arms around their kids, in line outside the doors. Everyone was quiet.
What's going on?
Sunday, she was at church, playing with her friends after services were over. She couldn't catch her breath. Her parents called an ambulance. Two days later, she died of complications. She was six years old.
They called in counselors, and last year's kindergarten teachers. The first graders made paper flowers and cards. Some of the girls cried through the day.
None of them really understand.
We parents stood together after school, not really understanding either. Still letting it sink in. The head of the PTCO approached us. We talked about memorials; a tree, a bench, a flower garden. Something. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of the school.
She told us she was organizing a fund. She told us that a few days ago she and her husband had decided to move back to Australia to be near her family again. This, she said, this reaffirmed their decision. Family is the most important thing, and she'd been away from hers too long. Eight years.
The bell rang. Kids poured out, some still crying, some smiling. My boyos had questions. When we're in the car, guys, then I'll answer them. In the car.
They had a few I couldn't answer, of course. I grew up Catholic. I went Pagan, then heathen. I've witnessed miracles, magic, a Presence. And I'm a woman of science with a voice in my head as I fall asleep whispering, This is all there is; when you die it all goes black...
What do you say? How do you answer?
Declan was ok with my answers. He's accepting, he rolls with things. Jack was all smiles, the tight variety. I'm ok, Mommy. Later he sat outside by himself. He faced the wind, watched the light. Stayed quiet.
The email asked, in lieu of flowers, could the School Community please help pay for a headstone? Times are tight, and...well...
The funeral is tomorrow. We'll be there, with many, many others from our School Community. We'll all have questions. I guess we'll all do our best to answer them.