When a Child Comes to Understand Death


Dorothy was a perfect duck, a storybook duck. She was white with bright yellow feet and an orange bill. When I was five years old, my favorite book was “Make Way for Ducklings,” and maybe that’s why my parents got Dorothy. If I recall correctly, she was a castoff from a negligent 4-H Club kid. But what a beautiful bird, and what a beautiful morning it was as I went down the hill leading from our house to a muddy pond to feed her. There wasn’t a path, and the switchgrass, cattails, and Queen Anne’s lace were taller than I was.

I saw her feet first; they were sticking straight up from the murky water. I stopped and waited for her to right herself. Her feet just bobbed about. I ran as fast as I could up the hill again and burst into the kitchen. “We have to take Dorothy to the doctor right away!” I yelled. “She’s very, very sick!” In fact, her head was gone, bitten off by a snapping turtle.

Sourse: newyorker.com

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