"Sweetie, a doctor can't fix him now."
"His family fix him, mama? He jus taking a nap? He so tired? I get your phone so you call daddy?" She circled the area slowly. Looking everywhere for I don't know what.
All the while, Pants just watched. Crouched down and as close as he could look, he watched. He waited. Plum asked the questions and Pants listened. Looking up at me as I talked and then back at the bird laying dead at his feet. Then he whispered something to the bird that I could not hear.
Plum chastised him, "Shhhh! You wake him up! No talk to him."
"Mommy say he is dead, Plum. He's not sleeping. He's died." <quietly to the bird> "I so sorry you died, little guy"
Plum started to cry. "He hurt mama? He gonna wake up and fly away?"
I sat on the ground and Plum sat in my lap. There was no hurrying to the store anymore. It was time to answer some questions and be fully present. "No, baby. He's not hurting. He had a big accident and when he hit the window, he died."
Plum: "Why he not fly away?"
Mama: "He can't fly anymore. He died. He will not get better."
Pants: <thinking and quiet, he looks up> "His mommy and daddy will be sad that he died?"
Mama: "It can be very sad when someone dies. Are you feeling sad, bud?"
He nodded. His chin trembling and a look of confusion set in. He was deeply saddened. The quiet sad that is written all over his face breaks all of my heart.
He had picked a dandelion and placed it gently on the bird's belly. "Can I touch him?", he said as tears spilled from his eyes.
I thought about trying to distract them with ice cream or buying bubbles at the store or both. My brain considered the fact that, sure, this was just a bird. This wasn't a pet or a friend or a relative. This was just a random bird. But there was no way that I could see to make light of this. There was no way out. Only through.
It hit me hard that my kids saw something actually die. They saw the whole thing. This was a powerful experience for these two small and not yet desensitized humans. They asked me what would happen to him now. I paused.
I considered my words carefully, remembering to be honest, succinct and to use a few simple words. I paused a few times to think through what I was saying. They hung on every word.
It absolutely sucked. Their pain crept over to my heart and squeezed.
I needed to bring a hopeful or at least a less-sad conclusion to this because if I didn't think fast we would all be crying for the rest of the night. "Let's go to the store and we will visit one more time to say goodbye to the bird when we get back" For some reason, I didn't want them to see me move the bird from our sidewalk. I was walking a line between honesty and trying not to traumatize anyone. I don't know that I walked it well but my guess is that no one really does.
At the store we bought a flower. When we got home, we laid the flower by the bird and said goodbye. They asked me again what would happen to him. I told them that I would carefully take the bird into the woods and we would not see him again.
"I know, Mama. You got me. I jus a little sad. I miss my bird."
I kissed his head and squeezed him. I was speechless. Plum piped up and reached across my belly to find her brother's hand. "I miss my bird, too. I hold your hand, ok?"
And I lay there holding my tears inside watching the beauty of my children comforting each other. My heart grew larger and my soul a little deeper as they drifted off to sleep hand in hand.