Questions and Answers

Pickle is 4.5 years old.  I’ve already fielded some tough questions.  Why is the sun hot? Why are grandmas called grandmas?  Did they have to cut you to get the baby in your tummy? Why do we have seasons?  But today’s question was the hardest.

Pickle was sitting in the rear row of the minivan, gazing out the window.  The heat was cranked up, since the thermometer read “12” and Frozen was playing loudly (per Plum’s request, of course).

“Why do people die?”  he asked.

“WHAT?!” I yelled.  It was hard to hear his soft voice over the heater vents and Idina Menzel.

“WHY DO PEOPLE DIE?”  he yelled back.

I paused.  I turned down the radio, and the heat.

“Are you worrying about that?” He nodded.  “Pickle, all living things die.  I know that sounds scary, but it is just the way the world works.”

“Even cars?”

“Well, cars aren’t alive, but cars break and stop, and their parts wear out.  Just like our parts can wear out or stop. Remember how I told you about Grandpa Harvey?  How his heart broke, and they couldn’t fix it? How they couldn’t make it better?”  He nodded again.

I looked in my rearview mirror.  He was thinking.

I wanted to be honest.  I wanted him to know about the bad things, the bad people, the sadness, but I want him to love this life, to live fully and freely and to be happy despite those things.  I wanted him to know that maybe there is a heaven, that maybe there isn’t.  I wanted him to know that there are things I don’t know.  Though at 4 years old, I’m sure he is comforted by the fact that I probably know everything. Because moms and dads do.

His brow furrowed.  “Will it hurt?” he asked, lip trembling.

“Will it hurt when you die?”  He nodded.  “Pickle, I don’t know.  I don’t know what it is like to die.  I know that sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it doesn’t.  But I do know that you have a very long time to live before that.  Maybe even a hundred years.”  I hoped with all of my heart that I was telling him the truth.

I wasn’t sure, after the very normal morning we’d had, why these thoughts were running through his head.

I wanted to comfort him.  I am the fixer, after all.  I am the mom.  According to Pickle, I am even “a little bit magic.”  I can tell him when he’s going to throw up.  I know when he has thwacked his sister, even if he has denied it.  I know where his misplaced toys are, the t-shirt he wants to wear.  I know things.  I’m the mom. It’s what we do.

“Pickle, I wish I had better answers for you.  I wish I knew why we died, or if it will hurt.  But I don’t know.  All I know is that you have a lot of things left to do.  You’ll play basketball, you’ll learn to drive. You can grow up big and tall like Dad, you can get married and have your own babies if you want.  Do you think you might want to do that?”

He paused, took a breath, and caught my eye in the rearview mirror.  “Yeah,” he said nodding, mind made up, “I think I want to do that.”

 

Pickle

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Questions and Answers

  1. Kids have a matter of fact way of asking about and dealing with the biggest of things. My daughter talked to my grandmother for a few minutes, after my gran found she was dying. She asked awesome questions and got awesome answers. Some almost as eloquent as yours.
    I think only through discussing, accepting and understanding what we can about death, can we truly live fully appreciative of all the joys and colours life, and mum’s can bring.
    Great words. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Dear ‘Sarky Tartlet’,

    Totally magical, Cate, with a very real and steady root for

    ‘Pickle’ to continue his life’s quest … honest & simple responses

    which ‘Pickle’ will embrace and find everlasting comfort in until

    he finds himself ready for further exploration…or, perhaps your

    responses will be the essential ingredients from which to

    raise the next ? In the meantime, it sounds like his Mom and Daddy

    have planted some significant seeds from which to continue the life

    long search for meaning at his beautiful age of 4.5 years!!!!!

    All love, Anne

  3. I will say it again.. How lucky Pickle, Plum & Pistachio are to
    Have you to guide them through the mysteries of life with grace and confidence!! Thank you Cate for your tender and thoughtful way..B

What say you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s