Chris and Melissa have each commented many times that having a child makes you more aware of your own sense of mortality. This is probably for a couple of important reasons. First, there is now a small person in the world who is depending on us to keep him safe and happy. Second, this provides a new form of motivation for each of us to stay healthy and therefore available to him. These ideas are well captured in a recent story in Brain Child magazine called “Canyon” by Julie Schumacher. The story isn’t available online, but here is a quote that is (clearly) written from a woman’s perspective:

“Nothing instills fear in a person as viscerally as bearing and raising children. Seven pounds of flesh tear their way through a hole in your body: It’s as is you have expelled a crucial organ – your own heart or a lung – and unless you care for this organ and tend and protect it, it will certainly die. Not only that, it’s death will kill you. Programmed into your brain is an endless loop of a recording that a giant unseen hand switches on the moment you strap the helpless seven pound creature into a car seat and bring it home. The tape says, ‘Protect this creature above all else. You must not fail’ “.

This quote reflects a feeling that Chris has had many times since Everett was born: there is now a piece of your heart wandering around in the world. Your instinct is to protect him from all harm at all times. However, he has his own will and as time goes by is able to make more and more of his own decisions; he needs freedom to become his own person and to live up to his full potential. The balance between these feels like a precipice, and you will have no idea how close you are to the edge until you’ve gone too far.

Our feelings about mortality are not something we talk about in front of Everett. However, we note that he has recently started expressing his own thoughts on the subject.

“Dadda, I love you. I don’t want you do die. I want you to stay alive.”

“Momma, after you die will you wear this necklace so you can remember that you love me?”

We are not sure where these comments are coming from. Is he becoming aware of the mortality of his parents? Is he simply exploring new concepts that he has been exposed to? There are a couple of graveyards in the hills near our house. One is a large field and the other is a grove of trees in a prairie. They are mass graves, without any headstones. Chris and Everett have been to both of them, and Everett was especially intrigued by the one in the trees:

“Where are the bodies?”

“Can we see them?”

“Why are they buried here?”

Our guess is that Everett has become aware of the concept of dying, and has been realizing that this is something that could happen to people he cares about. We did not anticipate this would happen at such a young age.

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