It was the day after I found our dear black lab dead next to the road. The day after my husband had to leave work to bury her, before the kids would have to see her there.
They had seen me cry. Our five-year-old was old enough to grieve with us, but we didn’t think our two-year-old could understand.
That day after, we played outside in the sunshine, being normal though it didn’t feel normal without our dog running with us.
Out of breath, I boosted myself up to sit on the tailgate of our pickup. My littler girl reached her arms up to me. I picked her up and sat her next to me.
She had few words at that age, but used sounds and gestures to let us know what she wanted to say.
She patted my leg to get my attention and said her word for our dog’s name, “Detta.”
“No,” I answered. “She’s gone. She can’t come back.”
“Uh,” my daughter said pointing to a passing truck. Then she slapped her own leg.
“Yes,” I agreed. “A truck hit her.”
My little girl pointed at me. “You,” she said, then ran her pudgy fingers down her cheeks and whimpered.
“Yes,” I said. “I cried.”
When she wrapped her little arms around my neck, I knew she understood after all.