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Mortality in a Kids Book

A Special Trade
Livia picked out this book when we were at the main library on Saturday. There was no reason to get it other than it was at her eye level and was small. She pulled it off the shelf and said "I want this one." So we checked it out.

It's pretty long/wordy, but a nice story. I was not prepared though because it's about a girl and her old man neighbor, their friendship and how it changes as she grows up and he gets even older. I started crying while reading it out loud for the first time.

[Spoiler] The old man doesn't die in the book, which was what I was expecting/why I was crying. He has to start using a wheelchair, so their roles reverse from when he pushed her around in her stroller to now her pushing his wheelchair. It was still pretty emotional, at least to me. There's nothing like being a snotty mess while your kids look at you like you're a lunatic!

Jane's reading progress now is about fluency and looking for messages in the books she reads. What was the author trying to say and do you have a personal connection to the story? Jane started talking about her personal connection about her Popeye and his recent health things. (He fell in an open manhole and had a kidney stone, both of which have worried Jane terribly -- he is on the mend now from both things!)

But then as that sat with me I started thinking about loss and explaining that to a kid. I was lucky enough that all four of my grandparents lived until I graduated high school. When I graduated college I was down to two living grandparents, and when I finished grad school I had only my Gran left. She died when Jane was 3, so she got to directly know and love the person who made me a mama. I know she loves/loved/will love Livia too.

I recently read a couple great books about death -- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity, both by Caitlin Doughty -- so it's been on my mind, at least the back of my mind. But this was my first time really connecting the idea that my daughters will EXPERIENCE loss like that and it shook me a little bit. It's just the nature of life, and how things go. But it wasn't something I was expecting to be confronted with when reading to my girls from a random, 1978 library book.


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