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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Sad Event

The principal at my kindergartner's school is calling all the parents in his class this evening with sad news. One of the children in his class has died. The principal didn't have any details, but she wanted all the parents to have a chance to talk with their children before school tomorrow.

The little girl who died, T., was a friend of my son's. He told me, a while back, that she hugged him once when all the kids were standing in line to get on the bus to go home after school. He says he feels so sad that he will just "have to fall down on the floor and stay there and wiggle forever," because T. wasn't supposed to have died. And he finished making out Valentine's Day cards to his classmates, including T., just this afternoon.

I'm sad too, thinking about her parents—if the cause of her death wasn't a car accident that took their lives in addition to hers—having to grieve their child's death. I can't imagine how I'd fare if any of my children were to die.

Poor little girl. At 5, she was really only a baby.

Updated 2/5/07, 4:30 p.m.: The principal sent home a letter to parents today noting the availability of grief counseling from the school for students, but she didn't explain how T. died. My son, Jared, says that his teacher explained T's death to the class by saying that T. got very sick and was taken to the hospital but that her body stopped working. He says many of the children were upset but not crying.

Last night, Jared created a booklet, full of hearts and flowers, in her memory. Because he's still learning how to read and spell, he asked me to write this in the booklet: I'm sorry you died, T. Then he asked me to write a note to his teacher requesting that she keep the booklet in the classroom "so that everyone will remember T.," which the teacher is doing. Jared says that she let all the children look at the booklet. He also asked me to include in the note to the teacher a request that she gather all the Valentine's Day cards already made out by the children to T. and mail them to T's family, so they would know how many friends T. had.

Right now, Jared's making another booklet in memory of T., to keep in a little wooden box that my husband had made for him yesterday. My heart aches for him. Sometimes he's so old for a 5-year-old boy. What a big heart he has.

Updated 2/13/07, 7:14 p.m.: The local newspaper carried T's obituary on the weekend. It explained that T. had cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle that eventually causes it to stop beating. Her family had no idea that she had any heart problems. She was even involved in gymnastics. The school PTA is starting a scholarship in her honor for low-income children who want to participate in gymnastics but can't afford the tuition.


KCB said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. Please give your son a big hug from me.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thanks so much, KCB. I will.

Anonymous said...

That's a horrid thing for a little kid to have to process -- I'm so sorry for your son and for the family that lost their child. Prayers their way...God knows who they are.

Imperatrix said...

What a terrible thing for the family, and for all the friends of this little girl. The way your son described what he was feeling was so tender and sad.

Poor sweetie pie.

What was the cause of death, have you found out?

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

I don't know yet how the girl died. I'm hoping that the teacher will send home a note after school today. I think knowing more would help my son and his classmates—and all of us parents too.

Anonymous said...

Your son's comment about her getting 'really sick' makes me wonder about meningitis. Last year around this time this blogger lost his young daughter to meningitis. He's been writing about her and working through his grief on that blog.

It's a horrible and sudden disease. If it was meningitis, you will likely be notified as soon as it's confirmed, because it's a public health concern.

But beyond that, it's just tragic. Another hug for your son. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this tragedy, Katharine. I was around your child's age when my friend's mother died from cancer, and I remember being thrust into dealing with death very quickly. Your son is very brave.

Unknown said...

What a sad story! I'm so sorry for the family, and for your little fellow who is grieving.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thank you, Songbird. Jared seemed okay this week, being his usual cheerful, huggy little self. At odd moments, he'll say something briefly about T., then go back to playing—very much a 5-year-old way of dealing with death.

TFLS said...

Oh I'm so sorry, Katherine. That's just terrible. A child's death strikes at the heart. When I was in the third grade - one of the students in my class was shot by his older brother and died. The brother also went to our school. He never came back to class, that I remember. Life can be so sad.

Larc said...

I am so sorry. As a kindergarten teacher myself, I am hoping to never have to deal with that situation. I ache for her parents.

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