Friday, August 25, 2006
A Lesson on Death
Yesterday morning, while on the phone with my mom, I heard a loud "thud." I asked Amelie what it was and she was clueless. When I looked into the kitchen, I noticed a feathery "splat" on the sliding glass door and gingerly moved my eyes down toward the patio to see if my thinking was correct. There, on its side, was what I hoped was just a stunned mourning dove. Its tail feathers were moving a tad and its eyes were open. My mom assured me it was probably fine and would fly away within an hour or two. I hoped that was so and checked up on it several times over the next few hours. The only thing that changed was that its eyes closed and it stopped moving at all. I didn't have much hope. Amelie noticed it when she got into her chair for lunch. Pleasant, I know. Her initial question was: "What's that big thing?" I realized that she had absolutely no frame of reference to be scared or sad or grossed out. Yet she knew something was not right with the situation. Birds don't usually lay down on our patio. After the simplest definition of death I could come up with, she repeatedly asked: "Why's that bird dying?" When she saw a squirrel and some other birds in our yard, she asked if they were going to wake up the dead bird. It was fascinating to watch her process the situation. As much as I wanted to sheild her entirely, I realized it was because of my own discomfort in dealing with the topic. Duncan told me he was glad that she's seen the dead bird and had death explained to her, even in such a simplistic way. We agreed that it was better to have a such an experience with death before the inevitable happens to a person she knows.