Today was my grandfather’s unveiling. Basically, what that means is after a year of mourning, the Jewish people believe it is time to unveil the headstone in the cemetery. It was an unbelievably beautiful day, and my 93 year old grandmother had no trouble navigating the grass (which is sometimes very wet and muddy) to stand by it.
Before we went, in the usual tumult that is leaving our five and two year old children, my son stopped and looked at me.
“Mama,” he said, “what’s honor?”
“What do you mean, lovey?” I asked.
“You said you were honoring Papa today, what does that mean, honor?”
He turned five this week, and it is as if all of a sudden, his world opened up. I don’t know if I want it to.
“It means we celebrate his life, and we are there for GG (what he calls my grandmother) because she is very sad, and she misses him.”
“But where did he go?”
“He died.” Sesame Street taught me to tell this one straight.
“Will I die?” he asked, and for a child whose face crumbles when there isn’t enough vanilla ice cream, he was mostly thoughtful.
“Yes, one day you will die.” I answered. “But you remember how old Papa was?”
“Almost a hundred.”
“OK. That’s good.” He paused. But will you die?”
This is the point where I thought I had two choices, to lie or to tell the truth, for somehow I knew me dying was a bigger concept than the idea that one day a million years from now, he might.
“When I’m a hundred.”
“OK. How old will I be?” he asked.
It turned out there were more than two choices.