Eamon crawled into our bed a couple of nights ago at around 10pm. He was still awake after having laid in his bed for a long while. He was giddy at the surprise we had at his still being awake, and contented to curl up next to me. After a few minutes, he began to ask me questions. “Did Jesus die? Will you get old and die like Papau Sharpe? Was Jesus old when he died?” Well, a lot on his mind. I answered yes, that we all die someday. With Jesus it was a little different because he died to show us all that he loved us and that he would rise again to go to Heaven where Papau Sharpe is now. I told him that most of us grow for a long time, sort of like a tree that starts small and then grows very tall and then someday it dies after it has lived a long life. He let me know that sometimes a tree is cut down. Well, right you are, and that tree cut down or left to fall in the forest will start new lives with its bark turning to dirt, with insects living in its trunk, etc. The analogy was the best that I could come up with on short notice. Sort of some mixing of Christian and Eastern theology behind my comments, but that is fine for now I guess, and reflects my own meandering thoughts on those topics.
Then he said, sadly and matter of factly, “I don’t want you to die.” And I said that I don’t necessarily want to die either, but that it would be a long time anyway and he would (hopefully) be older than I am now when it happened, so not something to get too worried about now. And he thought about that future for a bit and then said, still with a sober tone, “I want to be put in the same place as you and Mommy and Luke when I die.” Wow. Makes me cry again as I write this. The fear at being away from us is at the very core of the fear that I, and maybe many others, have regarding the concept of death.
Not long ago, Eamon talked about death in very unemotional terms, like his younger brother still does. People, animals, fish, etc all die. Nothing much to talk about. “People die there,” I hear from the back as we pass a cemetery. But this is literally the awakening of Eamon’s realization of the broader implications behind these realities. And he showed fear, a fear that a lot of us know and have not overcome. I think that Eamon has lots of innocence left at his not yet 5 years of age, but I just got the first taste of a loss of his innocence. There is not much that I can do to change any of this, but I do hope that I might be able to guide him (and myself) through coming to some peace with these facts of life.