The Monkey’s been asking The Questions — The Questions, that is, that I’ve been waiting for.
When I was a little girl, The Questions came first thing one morning. It was like a bell went off — DING: I realized I, and everyone around me, was going to die one day. My head started to spin as I went through all the people I love. All of them were going to die one day. My Great Grandma Fanny was already 96! My DOG Belle was 8! My PARENTS! OMG, MY PARENTS!
I ran to my parents’ room, gripping my favourite doll, “Marcus Mouse” — who happened to have a bell attached to his paw. DING DING DING DING DING. I ran to my parents’ room and jumped into the bed between them, and sobbed.
“When am I going to die? I don’t want to die! Belle’s already 8 years old. And soon she’s going to be 9 and then 10 and then 14 and then she’s going to DIE-HIE-HIE-HA-HA-WAHHHHH!” I don’t remember a thing my parents told me to pacify the anxiety and sadness. I just remember realizing that I was going to have to figure out how to live with all this new knowledge.
I now know how helpless my mother felt that morning. I was probably in Grade One already. The Monkey is only FOUR.
She’s been obsessed with death and dying since we lost Tigger. She would taunt me with hard questions about Tigger’s death, and laugh because she knew she was being a nutball…. She never reflected it all back on herself, thank GOD. Until now.
Yesterday, in the car — it happened. As she asked me Question after HARD Question (in panic and tears), I couldn’t help but notice I felt half there, and half transported back into my childhood, to that day when I realized that my life was finite. I can’t even bear to put her questions into writing.
I had to think quickly. On the spot.
“We die when we’re ready,” I said, “when our souls are ready, and usually when we’re really really old.”
“One hundred and ten, Mama?”
“Or one hundred and fifty! Who knows. But, in one way or another, you’ll be ready, so you don’t have to worry, Monkey.”
But this didn’t help, and the questions got worse, and more intense, and more horrifying. And, in the end, all I could say was this:
“Monkey, I love you. I’m here. I’m with you.”
And it worked.
She was having major anxiety — and, thankfully, I know anxiety. I needed to bring her back to the present. Since then, The Questions haven’t returned. So far. Today.
There are NO good go-to answers for The Questions, I don’t think. When they come, they’re here to stay, emerging now and then, like waves of the ocean. The only thing I can do is bring her back, say, 150 years, to now — to the present and to love.
*On a lighter note (GAH!), if you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see a little blond untamable shock of hair. Her little brother is oblivious to all the Questions…. Ignorance is bliss.