the day our daughter realized her mortality

It always happens in the most unexpected moments.  When you're in survival mode and getting through the days with three littles while preparing to move across the continent is your biggest feat.  And then your oldest drops a bombshell on you and forces you to have a little more perspective. 

Last night we were in a restaurant dealing with our seemingly mundane (first world) problems....baby crying, three year old not eating, inattentive waitress.  We looked over at our seven year old starting to tear up.  "Skyley, what's wrong?" we say.  She doesn't answer, but we can tell something isn't right with her usual cheery self.  I go over and sit beside her on the long booth.  Her face crumbles.  "Mommy, I don't want to die."  My heart stops and suddenly I feel as vulnerable as I did in the first moments I held her as an infant.  This is unventured territory.  How do you explain to a seven year old that we all have to die someday?  Even worse, what do you say when she knows that we don't all get the privilege of living a long and healthy life and passing away peacefully in our sleep on our 100th birthday?  That death could come at any time?

Honesty is all I could give her.  And sometimes the truth is a harsh reality.  And it hurts.  Life can be really cruel and it's hard for her little mind to comprehend our place in the universe.  Coming to that realization is one of the hardest things someone her age has to overcome and a pathway to many more difficult, unfamiliar situations as she grows into a teenager and young adult.  We will endeavor these paths the best way we know how: together, with an open mind and a healthy perspective. 

Something inside me shifted when I heard her speak those words.  It brought me back to a time when I was seven years old (ironically) and had these same fears and realizations.  I tried to remember how I coped.  But the only thing I know for certainty is that time passed and I thought about it less and less.  Death still scares me. (More so now that I'm a mother.)  It's something I can't protect her from and I can't sugarcoat with stories of rainbows and cotton candy.  It's an inevitable law of nature. 

But it's also the beauty of life.  It forces us to live.  It forces us to enjoy.  It forces us to love.  And I told her that she is brave.  She is brave for confronting this head on, for talking about it, and for feeling it.  And I hope that one day (maybe not yet) she recognizes that this life is hers.  It is her one and only.  I want this truth to seep directly and deeply into her bones so that she knows that this is it.  This is her chance to be fearless.

When I pick her up from school today, I'm going to hug her really tight, whisper "don't be afraid" in her ear and hand her this list. 

Because...perspective.

 

100 Reasons to Be Happy

  1. mangoes
  2. daydreams
  3. lazy sundays
  4. music
  5. going to the movies
  6. road trips
  7. crunchy leaves in the fall
  8. bubble baths
  9. totoro
  10. bubble gum
  11. dancing
  12. sweaters
  13. roller coasters
  14. family time
  15. tacos
  16. blowing bubbles
  17. rainbow sprinkles
  18. happy people
  19. kindness
  20. laughter
  21. people you love + who love you
  22. saltwater and the rhythm of the sea
  23. snow
  24. school
  25. good teachers
  26. full moons
  27. chocolate covered pretzels
  28. tickle fights with daddy
  29. bike rides
  30. comfy, warm beds on a cold day
  31. hugs
  32. forgiveness
  33. cupcakes
  34. tangled
  35. lullabies
  36. your bravery
  37. fart jokes
  38. staying in your pajamas all day
  39. friends
  40. you have the choice to change your mood at any time
  41. listening to 'cups' really loud in the car
  42. birthdays
  43. picnics
  44. violins
  45. good days (and bad)
  46. christmas
  47. water gun fights
  48. my little pony
  49. diverse people
  50. fairs
  51. learning something new
  52. warm weather
  53. lemonade
  54. taking long walks on a beautiful day
  55. big, fluffy dogs
  56. taylor swift
  57. floating lanterns
  58. art
  59. fires in the fireplace on a cold day
  60. realizing that you are luckier than most
  61. making your voice echo in the mountains
  62. hunger games
  63. those really good tortilla chips
  64. going camping
  65. butterflies
  66. freedom to do + say + wear what you want
  67. whispering 'i love you' in your ear
  68. crab hunting
  69. home
  70. you're healthy
  71. your sisters
  72. sunshine
  73. playing candyland
  74. fireworks
  75. going on adventures
  76. making smores
  77. sunsets
  78. kittens
  79. ice water on a hot day
  80. being fearlessly yourself
  81. when the weather starts to cool down after a long, hot summer
  82. water parks
  83. movie night every friday night
  84. there are so many good people in the world
  85. smiles
  86. you've been through a lot and you are strong
  87. making someone genuinely smile
  88. fuzzy socks
  89. the smell of freshly baked cookies
  90. rain
  91. big, blue eyes
  92. puppies
  93. trick or treating
  94. hot chocolate
  95. smiley face pancakes
  96. cotton candy
  97. good books
  98. sleepovers
  99. ice skating
  100. pizza
  101.  taking time each day to remember this