As we strolled through the park, I asked her why she's mean to Isaac and Brady. Why she excludes them. Why she'll be nice one moment and then horribly unkind the next.
She released a great sigh. I thought she was going to say something snotty or dramatic; I thought she would, for the upteenth time, accuse me of loving her less than the others, or even worse, of not loving her at all.
But she didn't. And what did come out of her mouth shocked me.
With a sad sort of reticence in her eyes, she looked up at me, swatted a hair out of her eyes, and said I included Logan. I loved Logan. And he died..
The words were like a slap to the face. She's scared that if she loves them like she loved Logan, they'll leave her.
I wasn't sure what to say. I cleared my throat, but my 36 years on this planet haven't given me the right words to respond. So instead, I told her to never fear loving someone else. I told her to love as well as she could; to embrace others for who they are and to look for shades of God in everyone she meets.
And then we got home and she went up to bed and I sat alone in the dark, ruminating over how unfair it is that my 9-year old has to shoulder such an impossibly heavy burden.