Monday, September 22, 2008

Tough questions

It's an eventful time for Pete: in the last ten days alone, we have attempted to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs, testicles, and death. As you might guess, the latter was the trickiest.

Pete has been thinking about death, and he seems to have some idea what it means. He can explain that he has killed a bug, for instance, and that said bug was alive and is now dead. (We do try to discourage the killing, incidentally. Another story.)

On Monday, Carolyn found the obituary of Karen Choate, a woman we knew who took a special interest in children and in Pete. In her sadness and surprise, Carolyn told me the news before either of us thought about the fact that this was the first time someone had died whom Pete really knew. So he started the barrage of "why" questions.

Why did Karen die? Well, we ventured, she was sick. Mistake: Pete knows that all three of us get sick, fairly frequently, so we scrambled to make the distinction.

After working through the specifics for a while, Pete pushed on the implications of this death, with many variations on the question of whether everyone dies. We did our best to combine honesty and reassurance: yup, everyone dies, but don't worry--when you get sick, we take care of you and give you medicine, etc.

Pete absorbed all of this, and he seemed OK. After a little thought, he brightened and concluded, "But we won't die!"

Oh, sweetie.

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