“Momma, I don’t ever want to die.”
My three and half year old daughter says to me from the floor where she is looking at her crayons.
It’s like a chocolate ball. Whole. Full. Resembling one of those whopper candies or a milk dud. Something round and soft and sweet. She has a chocolate ball inside of her.
“Well, everything dies eventually, my sweet. But that doesn't mean what dies is gone. They are just not here in this world anymore.”
I am struggling for the right words, the right tone, the right way to explain this without terrifying her. How do you tell a kid that death is part of life? That it's the end of something and the beginning of other things. It is confusing and heart wrenching for me and I am 39 years old.
“But I don't want to die and I don't want my family to ever die.”
She has tears in her ocean eyes now and something inside me aches at the thought. She is devastated by the idea that we might not all be together someday. A thought that also cracks my chocolate insides.
“Ok, don't worry we won't.”
I lie because I don't want her to worry. I want her chocolate to stay whole. She will have enough time to worry. Now she is in this precise age, an age that only lasts a split second. One where the world is fantastic. People are always nice. Santa is real. All problems are solvable by parents. She will have the rest of her life to know and deal with the truth. To realize the world is out to eat her chocolate. That other people might try and steal it, bite pieces off, take it for themselves.
Each reality I have to shine a light on, each reality she learns the hard way, on her own or through others chips small parts of it away. Until she too fits in the palm of my hand.
I just can't tell her that yet.
Her eyes see immortality, cheshire cats, eleves in the North Pole.
Why ruin it with the truth? Not yet anyway.
“Your old cat died, right mom?”
“Yeah, she did.”
“Where did she live?”
“She lived in my house when I was a kid, like you.”
“You were a kid like me?”
She stops asking questions for a minute and draws some black lines on a white sheet of paper.
“But I don't want to die mom. Ever.”
She doesn't look at me while she says this last statement.
She is declaring to the world that she, in fact, will never die. As if it is said out loud it is then true.
“Ok don't worry about that now ok?”
“Ok, look at my drawing, it's an abstract thing.”
She holds up her paper, it's a mix of lines and bubbles intertwining with circles and a person stands in the middle.
“It's amazing. I love it.”
“That is you as a kid!”
She says with a smile.
I can see it. I can see myself in her...drawing. Chocolate center full.
Truth does eat insides full of promise, but it is up to us to rebuild it. Change it. Or at least remember what it felt like.
I hug her tight. My truth mixed with her reality creates a place where both can exist. Love, and death, hope and fear, childish fantasy and adult awareness, fragility and sturdiness, safety and vulnerability. I have to let it all exist between us.
That is the recipe for chocolate.
Without the good the bad is too rough, without the bad the good feels synthetic. The recipe inside me calls for all of it.
We are all of it.
A kid like you. A person like me. We all have it inside us. A fight that battles between the places we know we need to fill with eerie hope and the ones that still hold childhood wishes. A raging fire with no where to go but towards one another. Chocolate liquid puddles where it once stood tall, those empty spaces that haunt our aching insides.