That was Maia's anguished cry at the end of the penultimate chapter of "Charlotte's Web" last night. I was crying by the end of it myself, because that last line, "No one was with her when she died," is one of the saddest in all literature. After I got that line out in a whisper, Maia put her head on my chest and wailed. Matt ran into the bedroom, John at his heels, and we all sat on the bed and tearfully mourned Charlotte.
"I thought you said you had seen the movie," I said.
She sat up and shook her head. "I diddent see the WHOLE THING," she cried, full of grief and reproach. "I diddent see the END."
Once we had pulled ourselves together, we read the last chapter, which was also sad in its own way, but happy-sad, and she had settled enough to read to herself before she fell asleep. "That book's a one-timer," John said to her in a wise voice. "It's so good, you can only read it one time."
Shattering a small person's literary world is exhausting, so I went to bed. About a half-hour later, I awoke to find Maia climbing up on the bed. "I'm lonely," she said. "I want to be with you."
I want my children to be familiar with grief and loss and healthy ways to deal with those emotions, but I am not heartless, so I let her cuddle up with me and we talked about the book.
"Why would somebody write a book like that?" she asked, and we talked about writing as catharsis and sharing and vicarious experience. She said she understood, and we curled up and went to sleep.