Hey folks! It’s time for another episode of Talking about Death. Actually, probably not so much episodes as commercial breaks, small interruptions in our regular programming to discuss life’s big, unanswerable questions in manageable chunks.
Rowan is back on his “figuring out death” focus, looping round as he does to the subject every few months or seasons or so. Last week, he woke me up with a chipper “Rachel and I talked about dead people last night!” In fact, he and I had talked about dead people as I lay with him before he went to sleep — what it means to be dead: that you can’t see, or hear, or feel, or know about the people still living. He had sobbed at the thought of leaving me, Rachel, his brother; missing us too much already; not yet ready to not be. I rubbed his back, held him close, tried to explain about probabilities, how memories and lessons and the wonderful things that we do live on. But mostly I was quiet, letting him have his grief, work through it.
Which he continues to do, in slightly macabre — if generally quite pragmatic — ways.
“I love this cat,” Isaac said on Saturday morning, nuzzling Lola, our increasingly tolerant alpha feline, as she stretched across the kitchen floor. And from the dining room came sound of the voice of five-year-old wisdom, intoning: “You know that cat’s going to die one day.”
I went to sit with Rowan at the table. “Who will you be sadder,” he asked me between bites of oatmeal with milk and brown sugar: “when the cats die or we?”
“When you die,” I told him. Because it’s true.
This morning, on the way to school: “If a giant pancake runned over you, would you get dead?”
“No,” I answer, “I doubt it. It would have to be a really giant pancake.”
“But if a car runned over you, you’d get dead, right?”
“Yes, probably. Or at least very hurt.”
“But you would only get dead if it runned over your heart and your head, right? Your heart or your head?”
“If it ran over your heart or your head, yes, you would probably die.”
“Hey, head, dead! That rhymes!”