When my son was six years old, I was tucking him into bed one night when he asked, “Mommy, are Grandma and Grandpa gonna’ die some day?”
I told him that, yes, one day they would, but he shouldn’t worry about it. When it was time, they would be ready.
He seemed to accept that, but the following night, he had tears in his eyes. When I asked him why he asked me, “Are you and Daddy going to die some day?”
I again tried to reassure him, but told him the truth. "Yes, one day, but that day is a long way off and you don’t need to worry about it. By that time you will be all grown up and taking care of yourself and you will be able to handle it."
The next night, again, I was sitting on his bed, pushing his hair out of his face. He started to cry.
“Honey, what’s the matter, don’t you feel good?”
After a long pause, he sobbed, “Am I going to die one day?”
My heart ached for him. How I wished I could deny it! I hugged him and told him the truth. "Yes honey, everybody has to die. One day even you will die. But that is only one day in your whole, long life. Are you going to spend all the rest of the days worrying about it?
It isn't the end of everything. Only the end of what you know, now. One day, you'll understand this, and when the time comes, you'll be ready. For now, just work on being the best you you can be."
Sleepily, he nodded his head.
I wonder if he even remembers those conversation. I wonder if somewhere, inside him, there is a sense of peace because his question was answered.... I wonder how different my life might have been if I'd been able to ask questions like this when I was six years old.