“Mom, what happens when we die?” Suzie asked out of the blue over her breakfast cereal, her head lowered, eyes staring into the depths of the half finished bowl, the spoon in her hand pausing.
“What do you mean Suze?” her Mom replied
“Well, Louise was talking at school the other day and she said her Mom told her that when we die we go to a bright, happy place where we meet all our family and friends again and every day is a holiday, but that’s not right is it? That isn’t how it really is?” Suzies head lifting slightly, her eyes unfocused as she stares ahead of her.
“No Suze, that isn’t really what happens for most people. It’s complicated but I’ll try to explain it to you….”
“Thanks Mom, I know I can always talk to you about this stuff, you understand so much better than anyone else!” The spoon, released, sinks into the cereal bowl as Suzie sits up at the kitchen table, the breakfast forgotten as she listens to her Mother, her head tilted slightly, her eyes half closed….
“See, the complicated bit is that what makes you you and me me and everyone who they are is more than just the skin and bones and brains and bits, more than just the physical body, there is something else, something that is inside each of us, a big part of us, a part of our feelings and memories and thoughts, and that doesn’t get hurt like our physical bodies do, and it doesn’t die like our physical bodies do.” Her Mom paused, thinking, trying to find a way to explain something inexplicable, something intangible, in a way that would make sense to her 12 year old daughter.
“So, what happens to this other part of us when we die Mom?” Suzie continued, her eyes remaining half closed, her body still.
“That depends on what we want to happen Suze. Some people feel that they have done everything that they need to do and want to go and explore something else, and they can do that. There are all sorts of places to go once our physical bodies have gone.” Her mothers voice became gentle, the tone changing, “Some people feel that they have things they still want to do, and they stay around to try to do those things”
The kitchen door opened, an older woman stepped through
“Suzie, who are you talking to?”
Sitting alone in the kitchen staring into space Suzie turns her face, eyes focusing for the first time…
“No-one Grandma, I’m just thinking out loud…..”