A conversation between my friend David and his then three-year-old son Jacob, subsequent to their visit to the aquarium:
– Dada, are you going to die?
– Why are you asking that, Jacob? Did you hear someone talking about dying?
– Well, Dr. Martin Luther King died out.
– Yes, that’s true.
– Are you going to die?
– Well, everyone dies eventually, Jacob. But you don’t have to worry about that. That’s far far in the future.
– Far far in the future.
– I don’t want you to leave me.
– I’m not going to leave you, Jacob. I’m going to be right here with you.
– Well, yeah, always.
– (Really getting upset now) I don’t want you to die, because mama goes to work and then I’ll be all alone.
– Oh, you won’t be alone, Jacob. I’m right here with you.
– If you die, will I get another dada who talks just like you, and does things just like you?
– Jacob, you don’t have to worry about that. How about this. I promise not to die until I’m 100.
– When will you be 100?
– You just don’t have to worry, Jacob. I’ll be with you the whole time you’re a kid, and when you are an adult, too. Grandpa Joel was my dada the whole time when I was a kid, and he’s still my dada now that I’m an adult.
– Is Grandpa Joel going to die?
– Everyone dies, Jacob, but he’s not going to die for a long time.
– If he dies, I want a new Grandpa Joel.
– Sweetheart, don’t worry about it.
– Am I going to die?
– Jacob, people die when they are really really really old.
– I don’t want to die, because then I’ll have to go to a big field, and you’ll have to come back and get me and be my dada again.
– Oh, sweetheart, you’re not going to die.
– How can we not die?
– We just have to love life and stay healthy.
– If we stay healthy we’re not going to die?
– We haven’t eaten an apple in a long time.
– Would you like me to go downstairs and get an apple? We can eat an apple now.
– No, let’s eat it after school tomorrow.
– That’s a real good idea.
– I don’t want anyone to die out. I just want Dr. Martin Luther King to die out and no one else.
– That sounds good, honey.
– Let’s watch the video now.
– And I want a snack.
– What do you want? Booty?
– Booty, bread sticks, and prentzels. And crackers. Just one kind of cracker.
– Okay, honey.