I’ve managed to get my head around the fact that all negative emotions are fear. Envy is fear. Anger is fear. Anxiety is fear.
But I hadn’t gotten my head around all fear being fear of death until I came to live with a kid obsessed with death.
Two weeks ago: after a half-hour lost to the ephemeral delights of Screaming Flailing Crazyland on account of who-remembers-what transition, probably that it was time to go to gymnastics, I finally cornered Noodle, gave her a fierce hug, got down in her face, and said gently, “I know you have a hard time when things change when you aren’t ready for them to change.”
Her face crumpled. “I don’t want to grow up! I don’t want to die! I want to be five forever!”
Whoa, dude. And I thought I was existential.
Yesterday, on the way to swimming lessons, apropos of nothing: “Is everybody going to die, the whole world, everybody?”
I’ve learned to just cut to the chase. “Yes.”
“But that’s sad! I don’t want to die.”
“You aren’t going to die for a long, long time.”
“But, actually,” she brightly reconsidered, “ I want to try die, like, die for a minute and come alive again.”
“Well, sweetie, it doesn’t work that way.”
“Why not? I want to. Then I would know what it would be like, you know, for later.”
Before I could respond to this (who knows how) we arrived at our destination (“Land Ho!” hollered Chicken Little) and I was off the hook until next time.
Surely, if not before then, in May, when her brother’s birth/deathday rolls around. Unsurprisingly, Noodle thinks his cemetery plot is the most fascinating place on earth (“Is he really in there?”).
She recently told her entire preschool class about the cemetery (“We go and visit him at the place where all people go to die”) and her brother (“he lives there, but not really lives, because he’s dead”) with an enthusiasm akin to if he were, say, a newly acquired guinea pig.
To Noodle, the whole dead-sibling thing is like, seriously cool.
It’s given me a totally refreshing take on that particular situation, I must say.