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1.20.2012

Immortality comes from within


Last night, I spoke about finding the right way to discuss mortality and death to Kit, while he struggles with the concept of my having cancer. I posed both secular and a religious path and asked readers to weigh in before I posted what I actually told him. Several posted comments on my facebook page facebook page which is where many of my readers link here from. Most spoke from a position of faith but didn't suggest that I speak from anywhere but my own heart. This is what I said.

"I don't believe in heaven or life after death in the way many people do, Kit. But Grammy does so you should talk with her to find out more. For me, I believe immortality comes from inside us and moves through time through our children. When you look in the mirror who's face do you see?"

"Me."

"And your mother's. You look just like her. The shape of your face, your expressions, the way you hold yourself. It's her. You are her piece of immortality. She will live well beyond her years through you, through your children and everyone else down the line."

He smiled at that.

"Back in 1775, the American Revolution was just starting and there was a famous battle at The Old North Bridge in Concord Massachusetts where it all began. At that bridge stands a statue of a man called Isaac Davis, one of the solders who fought and died there. He is a direct bloodline ancestor of yours through Grammo. You are related directly to a hero of the revolution 240 years ago. How's that for immortality?"

"Really?"

"Really. And it goes back further. You've heard of the Mayflower, right? The ship that brought the original pilgrims to New England? Well, Davis's ancestors, Grammo's ancestors came over to this country on the next voyage that followed the Mayflower, in a ship also called The Mayflower. So your relatives, direct blood relatives, were the first Europeans to settle in New England 400 years ago. There's immortality for you."

"For me the connection to our future and past is how we lead our lives here, how we leave the Earth a better place for those who follow. Who knows, your great grandson might be the first to farm the ocean floor or find a cure for cancer or be a world famous artist. Believe me, someone will say one day ムyou have your grandpa Kit's hands' or ムyour talented just like great grampa Kit.'"

"But why not live forever?" he persisted.

"Well that is living forever. But I take your point. Where would we all live if nobody died? What would we eat? Besides that, you get bored if you have a couple of hours loose time. What would you do with hundreds and thousands of years with nothing to do and an endless road of time still stretched out ahead of you? Life being finite means you have to live the share you're given to the full and cherish it, That makes it all the more sweet."

I could tell he wasn't satisfied with that. But there would have to be other times to continue the thought. When he was older and more prepared, perhaps.

"So there is no heaven?" he asked.

I shrugged. "I don't know. I'm not living my life with any hope that there is but you will have to decide for yourself about that."

Sally from "The Nightmare Before Christmas"
He grinned one of his mother's grins and asked, "Do I still get your Sally doll when you die?"

"You'll have to wait a very long time for it. Goodnight, sweetie," I said as I always do and kissed his forehead, as I always do.

"Thanks, Grampy."