The Bride is out of town at a lesbian bachelorette party in Vegas and The Boys and I are camping in the backyard playing “What If” games.
The 5 y/o asked what we’d do if we had one day left to live.
I went on about how we would have an awesome day camping in the woods, playing laser tag and paintball and doing american ninja warrior obstacle courses and rock climbing and then having a campfire and roasting marshmallows and telling stories, tucking the boys in for the night, telling them I loved them, telling them to be brave boys and to never stop trying their best at whatever they do in life, and then going to make love to their mother, and then I’d stay up all night writing letters to my boys to teach them all the lessons I didn’t have the time to teach them while I was alive.
They were both crying after that. Shit got real. The eight year old then says, “if it were my last day alive, I’d find a memory erasing machine, and I’d erase the memory of me from your mind and brother’s mind, and Mommy’s mind, and all my friend’s minds, so that nobody would have to miss me.”
Wow. I was impressed by that.
We often think of children as being selfish people. In ways they are. Up until about the age of six, children struggle to even hold onto the concept of other people having their own ego and self-awareness. Children see their parents not as individuals, but as extensions of themselves.
So, when a child says something like this, which is so profoundly outside of self, I find it both incredible and very encouraging about the future of humanity. In the moment, I learned from the selflessness of my child’s statement.
As I get older, I think about how I’ll be remembered after I’m gone. I’m thinking about how my children will do without me, and I worry, but I’m also aware of the fact that I will fade, day by day, from their memories, until I’m just a few speckled memories that they hang on to, dearly and preciously, as those memories become less real and pure and begin to change into memories of the memories.
This makes me sad. It makes me sad because of my own ego, and the illusion that, as an individual, I am important and that I matter.
I’m not and I don’t.
In a sense, I’m important in that my actions will affect my children’s personalities and will affect who they become and their effect on the world, and this will be passed down, fractionally, to their children, and then fractions of that will be passed on to their children, and so on. So yes, in a way, I do matter. My actions will have ripple effects here on Earth, for a long time. But I don’t matter in the sense that the memory of me as an individual holds any importance other than a sentimental one to me and my children. And that reality kind of stings.
However, my child, a child that is barely aware of the existence of a world beyond what he can see with his eyes, that child is so selfless as to answer that question in the most selfless way I can imagine it being answered. He would choose to be forgotten, so that those who love him will not have to suffer missing him.
That’s a beautiful answer, one I’d never have thought of giving, and it makes me so proud of him.