|Photography by Mary Allison Tierney|
He calls it “when your numbers are up.” Most of us simply call it “dead.” But “he” happens to be four and half with an emerging appreciation for the linear and rational. One day I’ll explain – try to explain – that sometimes being dead isn’t limited to how I frame it now.
A question about the Pixar movie, Up prompts a conversation along these lines.
With a concerned tone and woeful eyes, my son asks, “Mommy, why did the man’s wife die?”
“Sweetheart, she was really old and so her numbers were up.”
Curiosity about why a classmate’s older brother (a child) died prompts this dialogue.
“Mommy, why did Pilar’s* brother die?”
“Sweetheart, he was really, really sick and so his numbers were up.”
Driving in the car listening to music provokes this exchange.
“Mommy, who is that man singing on the radio?”
“Bradley Nowell, the lead singer of the band Sublime**, he made really, really, really bad choices, so he’s not alive anymore.”
“He made bad choices and so his numbers are up.”
“I won’t make bad choices.”
A deeper than usual breath, followed by “I know, sweet-man.”
Just like I know my son will make bad choices, I know that one day, in the wake of a tragedy, like the horrific bombing in Boston this week, I will be among wobbly parents faced with the responsibility to explain something – not only nonlinear and irrational, but evil.
“Sweetheart, we co-exist with bad guys, some people are the pestilence of Planet Earth – it’s terrible, but true. But, you know, the good guys outnumber the bad ones and so that makes us good guys even more powerful and strong.”
For as long as bad guys have used poisonous words, perilous threats and even, tragic proximity, it has not stopped the good guys. The good guys will prevail.
**Sublime song on radio was not R-rated
Michelle van Kriedt is a native Michigander who lives, loves, works and writes in Mill Valley, CA, with her husband & son. Her dual mantra is Family-Meaning. Tweets in between can be seen at @carmelmichelle.