Thoughts about my dad have been resurfacing now and again, and in the rare quiet moment I realize that I’m not dealing with it very well yet. My best defenses are always information and humor.
According to the death clock site, I’m to die Monday, September 8, 2036, in almost 33 years. That doesn’t seem right – I’ll only be 72 or something. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
And if the HumanForSale site can be believed, I’m only worth $2,025,638.00 now, with my "value" going down all the time.
One of Ben’s little friends from school evidently broke down over the holidays and sobbed to his parents that Ben was going to die and he wasn’t going to go to heaven – Ben had told him so! The mother mentioned it to the teacher, who mentioned it to me and asked me to ascertain what was going on with Ben.
When my cat Pooka died in the fall, I thought I handled it pretty well with Ben. He was able to say goodbye to her when it was clear that she wasn’t going to make it. He helped me dig her grave, and we had a little mom and son talk about how everything that lives has to die one day. He wasn’t convinced that Pookha had really left her body behind, and asked me questions about whether her skeleton might be thinking about coming out to play with him and things like that… but eventually, I thought that all his questions had been answered in a way and at a level that he could understand.
Then my father, his grampa, died. He didn’t see that, wasn’t close to the event. It affected him more seriously. I don’t think he had understood that people die too. He became very concerned that he might fall down from a high place and die, that a car might hit him and he could die, and so on. I explained that mommy and daddy will make sure that nothing bad happens to him and that we will teach him to take care of himself. But I couldn’t bring myself to utterly deny the reality of death, even to a three-year-old. So we put together a little narration that he’s been repeating and which seems to have been helping him get through the idea. He says, "First, when I’m 5, I’m going to get a yellow dog named Beau (that’s another story, really). When I’m 16, I can drive a car. I’m going to grow up to be a man, then I’m going to be a daddy, then a grampa, and when I’m really really old, then I’ll die."
So we saw the child at the school, and I pulled them together. "Did you think Ben was going to die?" And the child said, "Oh, he was only kidding." But he looked unhappy. So I asked Ben, did you tell him you were going to die? And Ben said, "Yes, but only later when I’m very very old." So the child said, "Oh, he told me he was going to die, and I asked him if he was going to heaven, and he said I don’t know, so I don’t think he is. Ben is my friend and I want to come to his house." umm, ok. So then Ben says, "That’s ok, we can be friends now and play, and then later, when we’re very very old, we’ll die then." Sounds like a plan to me!
Once it was established that our house indeed has doors and windows, his friend announced his intention of coming to visit when his mommy says ok.
These are things that happen while I’m trying to think about viruses as information for my last chapter of the dissertation.