This is the letter Maxi Minx wrote me yesterday (Monday). Translation: “I suppose there is an end of life, like death. There will always be an end. You won’t live forever. Wrote by Poppy, your eldest daughter” and ended with a kiss, a hug and some love. Cheerful stuff, eh?
I’m not aware of them coming across the topic recently, so it must just be one of those things. We occasionally talk about my Mum, whose birthday it would have been tomorrow (11th July). The minxes always refer to her as “Nana-who-is-your-mummy-and-who-died”. I’ve always just explained death as being like going to sleep, but forever. That’s satisfied them as an explanation up till now. Now Maxi wants to know more details, whilst Midi is only just starting to understand what it means. As far as Mini is concerned, “Die-die” is her name for her De Li toy, so that’s easy. Besides, she barely understands what ‘sleep’ is, anyway (at least it feels like it today…)
Midi thundered downstairs about 9pm last night straight onto my lap. “I don’t want you to die, Mummy!” she sobbed into my shoulder.
“Well, don’t worry because that’s not going to happen any time soon” I reassured in as matter-of-fact voice as I could.
“But what if you die when we’re still children? How will Daddy look after us?” she pressed.
“But I’m not going to die for a very, very, very, very [I continued in this vein for a bit] very, very long time. So don’t worry”, I smiled.
“I dreamed that you died, Mummy, and I missed you!” she persisted. I gave her a huge hug and a kiss, and reassured her that I wasn’t going anywhere. Poor wee girl!
Maxi got a bit wibbly about what happens to our bodies after we die, especially our faces. I explained that they turn back into dust and dirt, because we don’t need them anymore. She wasn’t too happy about that. “But what happened to your Mummy when she was just ashes?” she asked.
“Well, we put her into the ground, beside her granny and her grandad”, I explained. We talked some more about cremation and burial, and I mentioned in passing that I wanted to be buried so that worms could eat my body and plants could grow from me. Maxi stopped looking horrified and gigled. “Well”, I explained, “your body rots and goes back into tiny, tiny bits. Worms eat the bits. And what do worms poo out?” I asked.
“Compost!” she giggled.
“Yep. Then plants grow in the compost. So the atoms that were me get eaten by worms. Some atoms become part of the worm, some become part of plants. Some end up as new plants when the first plants die and rot. And on and on”, I told her.
Her little face suddenly lit up. “Oh, I understand, Mummy! We get recycled!” she smiled.