Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Mommy, I don't want to die!"

Oh, god. What am I supposed to say to that? I tell her she won't die. I tell her only the old and sick die. She is a smart girl and doesn't believe me. She doesn't think I can protect her from everything in the world, because I can't. And it hurts so fucking much.

Every night for the last 3+ years - since long before Aiden was even conceived - we have sung her four songs at bedtime that she picked herself. One of them is an old Irish song called "Cockles and Mussels". It is about a girl that dies and her ghost keeps going up and down the street, "singing cockles, and mussels, alive, alive-o". Tonight is the first time ever that she has asked why the girl in the song died. That discussion went into her fear of dying, which she has been bringing up a lot lately, and then into why baby Aiden died. I have always followed everyone's advice and told her the absolute truth. He didn't grow the way he should have and his heart had a hole in it. She worried that her heart or stomach would get holes in them. Nothing I said seemed to help ease her fears.

We went through all the heavy stuff in one conversation: where do babies come from? how do they get the baby out? what happens when we die? when will I die?

I am wrung out. I wish my 5 year old did not know that death is forever. I wish I could tell her the sick fish went back to live in the river. I feel like I'm kicking puppies telling her the harsh facts of life at this age. And I've been doing it over a year and a half. When will she stop worrying?


  1. I don't know what to say. I haven't had to answer those kinds of questions. It sounds like you are an amazing mother and you are handling her questions really well. It's sad that a child so young knows about these things, but from what I know, you are doing everything right.

  2. It sounds like you're doing everything right to me too, but it sounds utterly exhausting when you're already having a bad time.

    I wish I knew what to say to her that would make it all OK :(

    Thinking of you hon xx

  3. Oh, sweet girl. That's totally a 5 year old thing--the worry, the wonder, the processing--but I am so sorry you're having to explain over and over. 5 is when things like death and the permanence of it become more concrete for them.

    You're doing everything right. I just wish you didn't have to do it at all.

    Sending love.

  4. I want to echo what the others have said. You're doing an amazing job.

  5. As everyone else has said, you are doing everything right but I can only imagine how hard and exhausting it is. It's just so hard, that our living children have to be confronted by all of these difficult truths so early in their lives, truths that the majority of adults elect to ignore as too 'difficult'.

    My mum used to sing Cockles and Mussels to me too. C xo