CG, groaning as he sits on the step to put on his shoes: I'm getting old, Zo-
Z, cheerfully: -and then you're going to die!
Z's been talking A LOT about death lately. I am met at least once a day with questions I'd rather not entertain over my bowl of shredded wheat: Can you see anything when you're dead? Do bees bother you when you're dead? How do you know the exact day you're going to die?
It happens so often these days that these questions are no longer startling. But try as I might to be matter of fact - Death! It's just a part of life!- they will forever make me catch my breath, just a little.
Z, apropos of nothing: When you die, Mommy, I'm going to miss you SO MUCH!!!!
CBHM, momentarily stricken mute: ..........Me too sweetie, let's talk about that after we pick out a nice loaf of bread here at the grocery store, m'kay?
When she started asking us questions about death and dying, it seemed like a passing fancy, a circumstantial inquiry. We drove by a cemetery and she asked what it was. After a moment of wondering if I should just tell her it's a park with lots of stones sticking out of the ground, I gave her a simple, honest answer. I thought that might be the end of it but, um, NO.
Are they lying down under there? Do they have a pillow? Can I have a sleeping toy when I'm bewweeeed?
CG and I try to answer her all her questions as simply and honestly as we can, and so these questions are no different. We try not to talk down to her, we use the real words for things and our real answers to the hard questions (which, for us heathens, means a whole lot of I don't really knows and some people think blah blah blahs and What do you think?s). But we also try to remember that she's THREE. And we don't want to scare or confuse her. So we keep it simple and try not to get too philosophical.
But her questions, and my answers, linger in my head for hours afterward. I've found myself ruminating daily over what I really think happens after we die (There's nothing like pondering life's little questions right before you go to bed, let me tell ya!). I wrestle with how to explain to her some cultural and religious perspectives along with my own personal ideas (Life is short and what we do here matters! Every action, every word spoken, every footstep has a rippling impact on our world! We all live on through our impact, our relationships, our love! We came from the world when we were born and we go back to the world when we die!).
I confess: more than a few times I've wished I told her it was just a park with a whole lot of stones in it.