My mum died yesterday.
It was eighteen months coming, so no surprise, but obviously it still aches.
I got a call from the Care Home at 2.50am, peacefully, in her sleep.
I waited until dawn and started telephoning relatives. I was still in my dressing gown at the kitchen table when looked-after child A suddenly appeared. Just as I was saying to a cousin into the phone; "Sad news I'm afraid, mum passed away this morning..."
I saw the expression on the child's face. It fell. He stopped in his tracks.
I finished the call and found him. He'd shot off into the living room. Didn't quite know how to behave towards me. It was mutual, I was stuck for words.
Hanging over both of us was the question of how tender we should be with each other over a death in the foster parent's family.
Another fostering thing. Another one of those ones where the best you can hope for is not getting it too wrong.
Obviously it all depends on what the child's relationship is with the deceased; in this case he had asked to call her "Gran" because neither of his grans were in his life and it must have felt nice to him. But he'd only met her a few times, so it wasn't a deep thing.
Also it depends on the carer's relationship with the foster child. In this instance, due to my natural sentimentality, I put out a greater degree of attachment (warmth, kindness...love dammit) than the child is able to reciprocate yet, but we're going in the right direction.
Then there's the unanswerable questions from children of what is death, what happens to the dead...when am I going to die and how? I go with the Heaven thing for as long as possible and even though it's a big one to swallow I go on saying "You never know, we might all end up together again as angels".
Because, well, you never know.
I said to him:
"I think you just heard me saying, my mum died this morning."
"Yeah" came the reply, followed by "But I didn't really know her well enough to feel anything."
Which was probably on the button.
The stupid in me hoped he'd say something kindly, the fact that he didn't was almost certainly down to his not having a handle on the moment; I didn't have a handle on it myself.
It was just something else to try to manage when there was plenty else going on in my head.