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Evening star Even I will die

kidsparentschild2 years3 yearsFeuilletonchildrenkidLenka Míkovcová4 years5 yearsRespect and be RespectedCommunicationemotionsemotionfeelingsempathydeathHaim Ginottfeardyingevening star

I really wanted to sleep. It was a hot summer day and tiredness was taking over me. The kids were just falling asleep. All of a sudden, Kryštof appeared at my bedside.

“Mom, can I?” he whispered. I nodded and he lay directly on me. He put his head on my breast and unexpectedly asked: “Mom, when I grown up, will you die?”

My body froze, but my mind started racing. I didn’t want to create in him the fear of staying alone, but I also didn’t want to lie. Similarly, I couldn’t imagine what he meant by “grow up”. So I tried: “I will die when I’m very old, Kryštof.”

Either the answer didn’t satisfy him or the five year-old didn’t want to believe it, so he asked me again. “Mom, when I grow up, will you die?”

“Dear Kryštof”, I will die when I’m very, very old. But that’s still really far away.” I stayed silent for a while.

And in the strange quiet, huge tears started to stream down his cheeks.

“But I don’t want to stay here alone!” he cried. And I knew this was the first time in his life he realized even his mom will die sometime. His fear of loneliness seeped into me. He wanted to be with me all the time. I wiped his teary cheeks for a long time.

When I felt that the strength of his emotions had died down a bit, I tried to alleviate his emotions: “Look at me, Kryštof – I’m grown up and I still have my mom and dad.” I hoped this would lighten the weight of the situation.

But I still felt that the despair caused by his loneliness was too big. He fully realized the reality of my future death, and I wanted to lighten it somehow. So, at least, I granted him his wish in his dreams: “If you want, Kryštof, you’ll find a place for me in your heart, and that way I’ll always be with you. Maybe I’ll even turn into a star in the sky, so we can look at each other every night.” He thought about it so long I got the impression he had fallen asleep. Then, in a quite cheerful voice, he said: “And mom, could you be the first star that appears?”

I knew at that moment that he accepted my idea as a small bandage for the painful truth that he couldn’t escape away from. My eyes teared up with sadness and joy, and I added: “I could, Kryštof, I could.”

1st August 2013, Lenka Mikovcova

Translation: Marek Hubell

Proofreading: Petra Antevasin Bicanova

Another Feuilleton about Dying: fejeton Leaving of Václav Havel.

*Haim G. Ginott: Between Parent and Child, Chapter: Anxiety Due to Life’s End, page 171

*How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish

*Respektovat a být respektován, chapter 6. Empathy in daily practice: page 109.