What a lovely and thoughtful story, Roopa! I really enjoyed it. Then I realized, "Wow, *I* must be a terrible mother as my kids read ALL of Percy Jackson's books and never once came to me when they were upset!" My youngest loved them (and read them when she was 9 or 10?) and we never once talked about the dead characters. She did convince me to read the first Percy Jackson book, so I knew a little of the world, but I wasn't interested in reading the subsequent ones.
I also wanted to say I am sorry to hear of how COVID has touched so many in your life. It was terrifying to see from afar how Delta ripped through so many families and communities in India. I hope your eldest daughter is coping with the trauma of losing two friends.
We're seeing it happen in the US now but here it's because so many Americans refused to get the free and readily available vaccine. I'm thankful my metro region has high rates of vaccination and hopeful it protects those who can't get it yet (kids under 12) and those who are immunocompromised and more vulnerable.
I look forward to reading more of your work!