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Death Conversation #10

Last night, we were reading before bed when Tashi said, “People have to die; otherwise there won’t be enough beds.”

“That’s true,” I said.

“If they die and they don’t go to heaven, where do they go?”

“I don’t know. It’s a great question. The problem is, the people who have died, who know the answer, aren’t with us anymore, so we can’t ask them,” I said. Then I got into some stuff I thought might be too complicated for a four-and-three-quarter-year-old, but if I err at all, it’s always with too much information. I figure more is better than less. And right now I’m taking my parenting cues from Atticus Finch.

I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Atticus Finch is the dad I want to be.

Scout asked her uncle what a whore-lady was. He didn’t tell her and Atticus said, “When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ’em.”

So that I wouldn’t muddle Tashi, I said, “Some people say they can communicate with dead people and maybe they can. Some people might have an understanding of things that other people don’t have. Like dogs can hear things people can’t hear.”

I was proud of that dog analogy. I continued: “But I’m not one of those dogs or those people, so I don’t know.”

“We’ll know when we die,” Tashi said.

“Yea, we’ll know when we die. I hope that’s not for a long, long time,” I said.

By Andrea Askowitz

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