It was time for my granddaughter’s flu vaccine, and I was elected to drive her to the pediatrician for the event. Like every other child, she hates shots. We never lie and pretend there’ll be no pain, but we always promise a prize for good behavior.

As Isabella and I neared the city on Route 70, we passed a glossy, black vehicle.

"Mimi?" she asked. "Is that what they call a party bus? It looks like a party bus. It’s so shiny. I bet the bride rides to her wedding in that car. Or maybe it takes kids to the prom."

"Uh..."

"Look at the pretty purple curtains. Purple is my favorite color except for pink. Pink is my ‘specially favorite color."

At the doctor’s office, Isabella continued to rhapsodize over the party car. When the nurse focused on her monologue, I mouthed over Isabella’s head, "It’s a hearse."

"A hearse!" she exclaimed. "Wow! That’s...uh..."

Isabella shot me a look. "Did she say ‘horse’?"

At that moment, the nurse said, "Just a tiny sting."

I already had my octopus grip wrapped around both little arms as the needle did its work.

When the crying was over and the stickers collected, we stopped for a small coloring book and got back in the car. From the back seat came the nagging question that I thought was in the rearview mirror. "What’s a hearse?"

I sighed. "Do you remember when Aunt Marie died, and we went to her funeral?"

"Yes."

"It was too cold for you to go to the cemetery, so I took you back to the hotel. The hearse took Aunt Marie’s casket to the cemetery. It’s that kind of car."

Silence reigned. A long silence. A fall-asleep-in-the-car silence, if I was lucky.

"I get it," piped up the backseat voice. "A hearse is a party bus that takes people to God."

No way could I have said it better.