I’m washing up the breakfast dishes when I hear a little voice in my head say, I hate myself. I want to be deaded.

I know the voice is Sammys, because he says “deaded.” Sammy has turned dead into a transitive verb.

So we have a little talk, Sammy and I, about what exactly he hates about himself.

His end of things is vague. I wasn’t good. But I think I get what he means. Natalya died for him, and he thinks if he had been a good boy and not cried so much, she wouldn’t have done what she did. She would still be alive if he’d managed to hold up his end of things.

I try to explain things in an age-appropriate way, which isn’t really all that easy. I’m not so familiar with two-year-olds, but I also know that when the conversation goes over the parts’ developmental levels, they become emotionally deaf. The conversation ends up being like the adults on Charlie Brown: Wa-wah, wa-wah, wa-wah. So I have to try.

I tell him Nata was bigger than he was. Big people are supposed to protect little people. She was doing her job. Even if he had never cried, she would have done it. She still knew what the vory were doing was wrong and she had to try to stop it. It wasn’t because they made him sad and cry. She knew it was wrong anyway.

The vory were big, but they were bad big people and hurt little people instead of protecting them. She died because they were bad and wouldn’t let her do job.

It’s okay if he was sad and cried sometimes. He was very, very brave, but it’s hard for anyone to be brave all the time, and anyway it feels better to cry when someone nice is there and lets you. It’s good to do that. Then you feel better and the other person feels better because they know you are sad and if you cry then they feel like they can help you. They can give hugs and kisses while you cry. Then you both feel better. It’s okay that he cried sometimes. It was good.

He was very, very good. The things he did wrong were little things. They didn’t matter. She died because the vory were very, very bad and they did very, very big wrong things that mattered a lot.

And that’s why she died.

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