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How a broken truck explained the permanency of death to a child.

This morning, on the way to school, Hannah and I were passing the spot where my truck broke down the other day.  She told me that we'll be fine today because the truck is all new, and I said yes, the truck doctor fixed it (that's what she calls my mechanic).  She agrees with me, reminding me that we went and picked it up and brought it home.  (Even though we only went and paid and got the keys, she insisted on being driven home in the minivan and I had to go back and get the truck.)

Then after a minute of silence she says to "When Mommy is all fixed can you bring her home to me too?"  I replied that the doctors weren't able to fix mommy, that she was too sick, so she won't be coming home, but that we can visit her at Mommy's Place (the cemetery) if she'd like to.  Now this isn't the first time that we've dealt with the issue of mommy not coming home, and it's made her sad before, but this time Hannah broke down sobbing, I think for the first time she really was able to process that Mommy isn't coming home.  The analogy of the truck being able to be fixed and mommy not being able to be fixed seemed to just make sense to her.  We finished driving to school, agreed that we'd go to the cemetery later and dig a path through the snow to Mommy's Place and visit.  She seemed ok when we got to school, but I gave her teacher a heads up just in case.

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Comment by Kerri H on March 26, 2011 at 8:08pm
Wow, Peter.  This is so touching.  Thanks for sharing this with us all.
Comment by Patricia on February 1, 2011 at 8:22am
That is so sad.  It's just not fair for children to lose their mommy.  I hope your visit to the cemetery helped Hannah.  She has a great daddy.
Comment by Robinmo on January 31, 2011 at 8:06am

Peter, this is very sweet, and a great illustration of how kids learn a little bit at a time, how their understanding of permanency is built.

I'm don't know whether to feel sorry or grateful that you observed this. 

(P.S. My daughter still refers to gas stations as "car restaurants").

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