“Mommy, did you know someone can die of a broken heart?”
“I do know.” I very nearly have.
I don’t often get to be the one to decide when and where we will have these memorable conversations, and they most often emerge at stoplights, in public bathrooms, or in the frozen foods section. For this conversation, we were choosing Lunchables in the deli.
He makes his Lunchable choices based on the dessert therein, and he’s searching for Oreos or Reese’s Cups. His brother holds out for the processed meals with Airheads candies.
His class has been reading Where The Red Fern Grows, and they’ve just gotten to the sad ending where Old Dan ‘closed his gray eyes forever.’ Soon after, his best friend Little Ann dies as well.
I had a couple of little married goldfish when I was growing up. I know they are married because I married them. One day, Jim died. The next day, Joon threw herself out of the bowl. I found her laying on the table, and I dreamt up a romantic fairytale of how she couldn’t live without her fishy little husband. They both went to fishy little heaven where I believe they now swim happily ever after.
“Mommy, I remember when you almost died of a broken heart. You sat in the corner for three days.”
Well, not in the corner, but I sat in my chair for days upon days and weeks and months. His mind remembers it differently.
“Mommy, why didn’t you die?”
“Because I had you.”
“What if you didn’t have us?”
“Then I wouldn’t have had a reason to keep trying.”
His brother is pushing the cart. He says, “Mommy, if we get to heaven before you, and if we’re there with Dad, I’m going to whisper a message back here to you.”
“What will you say?”
“Mommy,” he whispers, “keep trying.”