Recently my daughter told me she isn’t afraid of death. “I think it’s your fault,” she confessed on one of our new daily walks since we entered Quarantine. It’s my favorite part of the day now, our walks together. I think she appreciates them as much. “See,” she continued, “your whole lecture about returning to the ocean and Pappa and Grandpa going back to where we came from... Well, I don’t think death is scary.”
I took it as a compliment. But barely. I think, really, I took it the way she intended it; full of fear and doubt followed up with support and love and acceptance. She witnessed two deaths last year. Two very important deaths. As hard as they were, she came out with a greater understanding of life and love and humanity. It’s all we can ever want for our children who face difficulties. We want them to come out of them as better, and more humane, humans.
So we walked in the sun and talked about Death. It’s not a scary word to me anymore, either. Partly because of my experiences last year, and party because it opened up a river of connection that we all swim in. “Every single person in the entire world experiences a death,” I told the children last year. And again. And again. As death happened, I reminded them it is only a river flowing back to the Ocean. We are only standing on the banks until we jump back in the same river and return to the ocean. My words were nearly meaningless until “The Good Place” ended and Chidi said it "a hundred times better than you did, Mom.” But the message stuck and here we are, people who are alive in the Knowing of death.
It’s a little bit much, sometimes. My children are the Woke ones. They call me on my bullshit and they point out my hypocrisy. My old school self wants to scold them because I KNOW BETTER, but I don’t. Who am I kidding? I’m as human as you are, some additional wrinkles, some additional social atonements, some brainwashing, but a person with experiences same as you. So when I drop the power struggle and I hear my child cry as I “lecture” about “What is right”, I drop it. What is right? I ask instead. And then I listen.
How are we to know what is right, or true, or beautiful if we only listen to what we were told? Why don’t we cultivate an entire generation of newbies. What if we LISTEN to what is right and true and beautiful? I have argued with their Dad about this. We have squabbled for hours on end. Everyone has their own version of right and true and beautiful. But as parents, what if we released ours? What if we forgot what we were saying and instead, we listened on the almost four mile walk we are gifted with during a no-school quarantine, and what if those gifts changed our next generation?
What if everything is ok, is right, is true, and beautiful? And the only real struggle is society said it isn’t?
What a lovely walk that would be, indeed. With your 15 year old daughter, who commands her puppy, on that large hill, not far from your house.