This evening my Biggest Girl came back downstairs after bedtime in tears.
She was afraid that something might happen to the twins and that they might die. She was worried about everybody she loves dying. It’s a usual part of childhood development – a chat every child and parent has in families full of love.
This conversation always tears my heart a little, as it happens every few months at the moment. I remember being that age myself and sobbing on the stairs for the same reason. The sudden realisation that everyone will die.
I remember my mum and dad speaking in reassuring tones of heaven and life being for a long time and my anxiety around death eventually settled. As I grew older those who died were elderly or ill and it seemed like blessed release.
As I grew older still I learned that death was often indiscriminate, sometimes fast, sometimes slow but always inevitable, if painful. I lost people I loved after long illnesses or suddenly and unexpectedly. I heard and saw death at work all around me.
I came to accept death as part of life and did not fear it, some days even wishing for the day when my energy would be called back into the altogether of the universe. My shifting from form to another energy, as energy is never destroyed, only changed.
Then came my Biggest Girl and death was something to fear again. An uncontrollable constant, which threatened the love I had made flesh. Every day I do what I can to protect my children from death’s looming threat, I hope each day I win.
I tell Biggest Girl death is nothing to fear, that it is like going home and we will be surrounded by those we love, to be happy and cared for always.
“So it’s just like it is now only forever?”
I bite back tears, smile and reassure her, then cuddle her close and send her to bed thinking of this weekend’s plans for a campfire and toasted marshmallows.
After every one of these conversations with my Biggest Girl I am her, I am that little girl crying on the stairs.
I hope we go to that place I describe to her. I try my best to live it now. I’m lucky enough to love these people with whom I have made home and those I welcome into it. My life, to me, is heaven, so death’s shadow once again makes me afraid. I have everything to lose, in a losing game.
Ultimately I remember Shakespeare’s words on the matter, words which mark my grandmother’s grave:
“All losses are restored, and sorrows end.”