He looked at her sitting within an arm’s length from the television and wondered how he would tell her. She was only seven. Her brown curly hair mimicked his dark, uncontrollable curls, now thinning from age and stress. She didn’t notice him standing in the doorway and faced the television with a stillness he yearned for. The television was unusually quiet, as if it understood this new sadness they faced.
He was numb from the day and on auto-pilot. He needed to shake it off. He needed to feel. He couldn’t tell her without feeling.
‘M,’ he said quietly. No nicknames, he needed her to know this was important.
She turned her head. Her eyes were grey today. They changed with her moods. One day vivid blue, the next rich green. But today, they were a cool grey. The dark circles under her eyes looked out-of-place – too old for a seven-year old.
He crouched down close to her.
‘Lol died today,’ he spat out without ceremony. He didn’t know any other way to say it.
She looked at him and nodded. She didn’t move to hug him, she didn’t cry, she didn’t lower her head. Her eyes looked light and weightless next to the darkness that circled them, like they would almost float off.
He didn’t know what he should do.
She turned back to face the television. He stood up, looked down at her stillness and then moved his eyes across the suburban lounge room. It spoke of silence as the dull, muted television tones continued around him. He nodded to the room in agreement.
She heard him. She understood. This is how she should react. She had the knowledge this was coming, she saw her mum and dad exhausted from harsh fluorescent glare of the hospital. There was nothing left for any of them to say. He bowed his head toward her and walked out of the room to sit in the silence of the day.