My daughter, bless her sweet, timid fairy self, is terrified of death and dying.
Just like my son, she understands death not just as a concept, but as a reality. Death has been an ugly, all-too-regular occurrence for as long as she can remember. She was only 15 months old when her father died; from there, pets and people she loved have fallen like dominoes. I wish I could read her mind, dig underneath the fluffy pink ballerina exterior and see how much sadness has permanently settled into her soul.
When I was a child, death was something that would never happen to me, or to the people directly connected with me. I tell my daughter that things don’t die very often, and that feels like a lie. I guess that to her it is a lie. Evidence tells her otherwise.
I put her brother into his room for a time-out and he shrieks as though the world is ending. “Is he going to be okay?” asks my Bumpy girl, worry and concern etched on her tiny face, “He’s not going to die, is he?”
No, I promise her. No, most definitely not. He is fine, he is going to be just fine.
We find a squashed snail on our way to school and she mourns for it, talks about how very, very sad it is for the next few days.
The kindergarten fish dies and is promptly replaced. I know there is no announcement made- who would tell kindy kids that, really, if they didn’t have to?- but the Bump knows. She knows, far too well, what it means when living things are just not there any more.
I head out for dinner with blogging friends, the first time I’ve been out and left my children at home with The Most Amazing Man. He spends half the night reassuring the Bump that I am not going to die, that I will be home safe in just a few hours.
I am not going to die, I tell her, not for a very, very long time. I will be old and grey before I go anywhere. I promise, I say, and I may just be lying to her, over and over, the way we do with our children, because telling them the truth would just be cruel.