We were walking by a graveyard.
I started to read some of the headstones. Jebediah. Lydia. Anna. Nathanial. 1806-1870. I didn't read the dates for those who died at 6 months or 10 years, but read names and ages for grownups as we walked along the sidewalk running parallel to the fence.
That wasn't good enough; P. wanted to know who they were.
What kind of people.
"I don't know, lovebug," I said. "They lived and died before I was born. Before babushka was born or even GG was born. We never met them."
P. chewed on this for a while as we walked along past more rows of markers. I knew she was thinking about the people in the graveyard, but her next question surprised me.
"Why do people die when they get old?"
"Well, because bodies are like machines and after a long time parts start to wear out. Bodies only last so long."
"But why do they have to die?"
I was suddenly thinking about lobsters, which have self-repairing DNA, but thought that particular information would be less than helpful in the moment.
"Everything that's alive dies. People and animals and plants all die after a while. People live a long, long time. Different things die at different times."
Why, why, why - so many whys. No good answers. So I speculated.
"If no one died, if no thing ever died, the earth would get filled up and filled up and there'd be no space left to move."
"Because more and more people and things would be born, but none would die."
We walked on and P. was uncharacteristically quiet. I asked her what she was thinking about.
"I wish no one had to die" she said.
You and everyone else, little one.
What have you told your children about death?