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Growing Up

“Daddy, when will my baby brother or sister get here?”

“Soon, sweetie.  We don’t know exactly when.”

“Tomorrow?”

“No, probably not.”

“The tomorrow after tomorrow?”

“Probably not.”

“But when my baby brother or sister comes, they will be a baby.”

“Yep.  A tiny little baby.”

“I were a little tiny baby a long time ago.”

“That’s right.  Everyone starts out as a baby.”

“Even Mommies and Daddies were babies a long time ago.”

“Yep, even Mommies and Daddies.”

“Everybody is a baby and then everybody becomes a big kid.”

“You got it.”

“And then everybody grows up.”

“That’s right.”

“And then everybody dies.”

A late afternoon breeze quietly rustled a few leaves above our heads.

“Yes, sweetie.  Everybody dies.”

“You will die.”

“Some day.  But probably not for a long, long time.”

“I will die?”

A bird chirped in a nearby tree, fell silent, and then chirped again.

“Yes, Carolyn.  Some day.  But not for a long, long time.”

“Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“Where will I go when I die?”

“Nobody knows, sweetie.”

“Will I go someplace new?”

“Nobody knows, sweetie.”

“Then what happens to me when I die?”

“Nobody knows that either, sweetie.”

“Nobody?”

“Nobody.”

“Why not?”

“That’s just the way things are.  Nobody knows what happens before we’re born or after we die.  A lot of people think they know, but nobody really does.”

“I were someplace else before I were born?”

“Maybe, sweetie.  I don’t know if you were somewhere or not.  I don’t think you were.”

“Did you take pictures of where I were before I were born?”

“No, Carolyn.  It isn’t someplace we can take a picture of.  There may not even be a place at all, so there’s no way to take a picture of it.”

She leaned forward slightly on the bench beside me, intense thought written in her small frame.  The chirping bird flew off to some other part of the yard.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, sweetheart?”

“I will not die until after I’m all done growing up.”

“Good.”

Good.

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