Life is a Story
It was past her bedtime, but she obviously needed to talk so I didn’t rush her through her process. She has a slow way of reaching her point, leading up to it carefully, crafting her thoughts that are obviously furiously swirling through her mind so that they come out as articulated, thoughtful words.
“Time passes, Mommy. Time. Passes.”
“Yes, it sure does, Story.”
“In thirty years, I will be 37, and I don’t want to be 37, because that’s when the bad thing will happen.”
“What bad thing?”
“I don’t want to say the words out loud. I wrote them down so I wouldn’t have to say them. I don’t want to be 37, Mommy.”
“What bad thing will happen when you’re 37?”
She paused, and tucked her chin to her chest, stroking my hand with her small, delicate fingers. She looked up at me.
“I won’t have you anymore.”
“What makes you think that? I’m 38 and I still have my mommy and daddy. And grandma is much older and even she has her mommy still.”
I brushed the hair from her small face, and kissed her nose. I could feel everything welling up inside me, all my fears and hopes and worries churning into a ball of anxiety that I know I have to bury deep inside and not let her see. Does she know something I do not?
“So maybe you’ll still be here? Where will you go when you die?”
“I think I’ll still be here, Story. I don’t know for sure, but since nobody really knows for sure, we try not to worry about it. I have no idea where people go when they die, but I like to think there’s something else after.”
“When I die, I will come to you and we can dance together again. When you die, will you send me messages? Maybe I can leave a piece of paper and a pencil, and you can write me a note to let me know what happens when you’re dead?”
If only it was that easy. I know what she’s hoping for, and God knows I wish I could make these things happen for her. I can’t even promise her I’ll be alive tomorrow, let alone thirty years from now.
“I think that maybe when we die, it’s not that easy for us to communicate anymore, so maybe we leave signs in other ways. Like dreams, or seeing someone’s favourite flower more often, or something. I don’t know but if there was any way for me to communicate with you, I would do it.”
“Can we build a WABAC machine?”
I laughed. She’s a funny kid.
“I have neither the tools nor the know-how to do that, kiddo. But it would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it?”
“No, I mean, with some cardboard, and some paint?”
“Ha, oh, yeah. We can totally do that.”
“I love you, Mommy.”
“I love you too, Birdy. So, so much.”
She rolled over, snuggled into me tightly, her quiet breaths slowing into sleeping rhythms while I stared into the dark wondering about things I’ll never have answers to, feeling thankful for moments like those, and wishing we could live forever.