I love the conversations that occur in the car with my sons. They can be so profound, enlightening and unpredictable. Here is a transcript of today’s car ride on the way to visit their grandmom, my mom.
Owen (8): This is a weird question, but how old were you when your dad died?
Me: That’s not a weird question at all. It’s a very good question, actually. Let’s see…I was twenty-four. (I am now 43).
Owen: How did he die?
Me: He had a disease called cancer. Some people die when they get cancer, and some people are able to get better. Grandmom had cancer.
Owen: And she beat it.
Me: And Pop had cancer.
Owen: Beat it.
Me: Even Aunt Lori had it.
Owen: And she beat it.
Hayden (6): But not your dad.
Me: No, he didn’t beat it.
There is silence for a minute. We pass a cemetery.
Hayden: Maybe your dad’s buried in there.
Me: No, I know where he’s buried. But I don’t visit cemeteries, I think.
Me: You know, some people believe that when you die, you come back to life again in another form. It’s called reincarnation.
Both boys: Cool/Awesome.
Owen: I want that to happen to me.
Me: You do, huh? Well, some believe that you come back as a being that you need to learn from. Like, if you were mean to a cat all the time, then you might come back to life as a cat.
Owen: I can’t wait til you come back as a cat, Hayden.
Me: No! You have to be REALLY mean, not just annoying. (But I was thinking the same thing, Owen:)
Hayden: Like, you have to throw heavy things at it.
Me: Yeah. And you don’t only come back in a negative way. You can come back as something different from you are now, like a girl, or a person who lives in another country, or a dog.
Hayden: I do NOT want to come back as a girl! (Suddenly) Oh! Oh! I want to come back as a banjo player.
Laughter. Lots of laughter.
Me: A banjo player, huh?
Hayden: Or a baby.
Owen: Maybe your dad has already come back as something.
Me: That would be cool, wouldn’t it? Like maybe he’s one of the birds that visits the bird feeder attached to our window, and he likes to come to the window and look in on us.
Owen: Or maybe he’s a tree. Dad, wouldn’t that be cool if we planted a tree and it was actually your dad?
Hayden: But no grave stone! It wouldn’t be cool to have grave stone underneath the tree in our yard.
Owen: Yeah, if people have a grave stone in their yard, everyone will think they are weird.
We drive some more in silence.
Hayden: What if he came back as a building?
Owen: No, he can’t be a building.
Me: Buildings aren’t alive.
We pass a Dunkin Donuts where a man is pulling out of the lot smoking a cigarette.
Hayden: See that man smoking? That man’s coming back as a cigarette.
Owen: Yeah, so he can feel what it’s like to be set on fire.
Me: Okay. We’re almost there, boys.