Thursday, August 16, 2012

Puppy Parts And A Fear Of Dying Part Two...

And then there is death...

My oldest daughter is turning ten this week.

She is pretty and smart and fragile and strong. She is an open book. She is a puzzle with a million pieces. She is an old soul tethered to a dark past. She is a bright light shining through a gray sky. She is inexplicably unique yet she is exactly like me.

Oldest: "Daddy?"

Me: "Yes baby."

Oldest: "I don't want to turn ten."

Me: "How come?"

Oldest: "I just don't want to."

Me: "But it wouldn't be any fun staying 9 forever, would it?"

Oldest: "I don't care."

Me: "Don't you want to do all the things you can do when you get older?

Oldest: "Like what?"

Me: "Well you can drive. You can go to the mall on your own and with your friends. You can fall in love. All kinds of great stuff."

Oldest: "I don't want to get married and I don't want to have kids or grand kids."

Me: "Wait a second. I want grand kids."

Oldest: "Stop it daddy. I'm being serious."

Me: "Baby what's wrong? Talk to me."

Oldest: "I don't want to get old."

Me: "Baby, ten isn't old."

Oldest: "Yes it is. When I turn ten I'll be half of twenty and when I'm twenty I'll be half of forty and when I'm forty I'll be half of sixty."

Me: "Sweetheart, half of sixty isn't forty. It's thirty."

Oldest: "You know what I mean daddy."

Me: "I'm teasing. Baby, what are you afraid of?"

Oldest: "I don't want to die."

She starts to cry. 

Every time she cries over the real stuff my soul tears just a little bit. I don't mean stuff like losing a bracelet or messing up her homework. I mean the kind of stuff that can make you grow or the kind of stuff that can break your spirit. It's such a fine line. I feel like my job as a dad is to make sure the latter doesn't happen. I have to try and spot her on the balance beam of life. But I know that's impossible. No one has that kind of power. Not even a dad.

Me: "Hey, you have a long way to go before you die. I hope we both do."

Oldest: "But what if we don't?"

Me: "I try not to worry about that stuff pal. It's not up to me."

Oldest: "Are you too old to have a ten year old?"

Me: "I don't feel old."

Oldest: "No. Are you old for having a ten year old?"

Me: "I don't think so. People that are a lot older than me have ten year old kids."

Shit. She's afraid that I'm going to die too. Tear...

Oldest: "Are you afraid to die?"

Me: "Maybe a little. It's normal to be afraid of dying. When I was a kid I felt the same way. I think we only get afraid because we don't know what's going to happen to us."

Oldest: "I guess so. I wish only bad people had to die and good people could live forever."

Me: "I hear ya but that's not the way it works."

Oldest: "I don't think I want to talk about this anymore."

Me: "That's OK. Thanks for telling me how you feel baby. It means a lot to me that you can talk to me about this stuff. It helps me."

Oldest: "Why?"

Me: "It just does. You're a good kid. I love you."

Oldest: "Can we get frozen yogurt?"

Me: "I'll ask mommy."