“Mom?” asked Emilia.
“You know how sometimes when people die, someone plants a tree for them?”
I knew where this was going. My daughters have no trepidation about referencing my death. I might play a role in this behavior. Captain Fantastic is one of our favorite movies.
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“Let me guess,” I said. “You’re going to plant a tree in my honor?”
“No,” she corrected. “I’m going to plant an eggplant for you, because I know how much you love eggplant.”
I never really know quite how to respond to these exchanges.
Thanks for thinking of me?
Make sure whoever cooks that eggplant knows what they’re doing?
On another occasion, Ivy brought up the subject of death.
“Mom, what’s it like when you die?”
“I don’t know, Ivy. I’ve never been dead.”
She frowned. This answer was both insufficient and disappointing.
“But,” I continued. “I imagine it’s a lot like being asleep, but without any dreams. A state of complete and total rest.”
I thought this was a good response. A parenting win. I admitted that I don’t have all the answers, but at the same time made what I saw as a logical and plausible guess that would neither cause alarm, nor give false hope to a heaven lined in cotton candy and sponsored by Pixar.
Ivy contemplated death as I’d imagined. This heavy, dreamless sleep.
Then she looked at me in all her innocence, smiled, and said, “I bet you’re really going to like that.”