Amie Talks about Death Again


“That is the Mama skeleton, and that is the Baba skeleton, and that is the big sister and the baby brother skeleton, and…”

Yesterday evening I was helping Amie get to sleep – I just lie next to her in the dimmed light, in our bed (we still cosleep), hold her hand, and read a book while she stares and stares until finally her eyelids drop.

I was reading Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, which I find fascinating, and suddenly she said, so totally out of the blue:

– I want Baba to die before you.

I fairly couldn’t disguise my shock. That’s probably why she changed to:

– I don’t want you and Baba to die before me.

And still I was speechless. So she said:

– I only want people that I don’t know to die. Tell me all the people I know who have died! Tell me their names!

– No one you know has died. But Opa’s Mama and Baba have died.

– I know that!

– As well as Oma’s Mama and Baba, and Thamm’s Mama and Baba, and Dada’s Baba.

Maybe listing all those dead Mamas and Babas was not a good idea. So I added:

– But what is dying? I don’t find it scary at all. Our bodies just fall apart, and then there’s nothing.

– Our brains stop working, right?

– Yes, no more thinking or dreaming or sleeping or walking or playing…

– That’s so boring!

– Well, you can’t even be bored,  because you’re dead.

While she pondered this I had the occasion to regret my cop-out. She was talking not of dying, but of being left behind. So I said, more honestly this time:

– Don’t worry about dying, because we don’t know when we’ll die, you or I, and worrying about it doesn’t make a difference.

Was she content with that? She fell silent, and I returned to my book, and she stared at me for a while, then fell asleep.

{other conversations about death here and here and here}

I got the news that they’ve made a movie of McCarthy’s book, The Road – with Vigo Mortensen, so a mainstream movie. I am of course not going to see it (I must be nuts!), but part of me is extremely anxious for those who will, and another part is extremely curious about the effect.  But mainly just thinking about it gives me the shivers.

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  1. That was a good insight about what was really on her heart. I don’t ever recall my children talking about death. Of course, our worldview is biblical, so my answers to them would have varied somewhat. Still, it is a part of life as we know it.

  2. I won’t be seeing The Road, either. The book gave me nightmares while I was reading – at least up until they got to what must be North Carolina or thereabouts. I still think about it … too much, probably, and it has that affect on me, too … shivers.

  3. Some people have a tendency to be obsessed with thoughts about death. I dreamt the other day that my daughter was dead. I have such dreams from time to time about someone dear to me. It is certainly not something I would like to dream about. I would like to know what causes this and whether one has any control over such dreams.

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