March 4, 2005


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.

– When?

– 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.

– Always?

– 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?

– Right.

– 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.

– Okay.

– And I want a snack.

– What do you want? Booty?

– Booty, bread sticks, and prentzels. And crackers. Just one kind of cracker.

– Okay, honey.