How do you tell a six-year-old
That we don’t live forever?
What do you reply with,
When she asks why Grandpa never came around
To fix her bike, when he said he would?
You tell her that Grandpa’s dead.
Just say it flat out.
Tell her that he was buried
At St. Peter’s Church down the road
And that there are a crowd of Magnolias
Sitting on his marble grave.
Tell her he was old and that he was never
Going to live any longer.
When she asks what being dead means,
Tell her Grandpa can’t fix her bike anymore,
Even if he promised.
Tell her that it is not his fault.
He would if he could.
If she asks why he didn’t die after
Her bike chain was fitted back into place,
Tell her that
Death couldn’t wait for that.
Don’t sugar-coat it.
Don’t let her think that Heaven
Is more beautiful than Earth.
She will end up hating life.
Subliminally, as she grows,
As she blooms into questioning a adolescent
And she feels that life just isn’t enough,
She will remember when you told her
That Grandpa is happier now.
She will search for peace within the soil,
Covered in Magnolias.
Just tell her that death is a beautiful thing.
But it isn’t any more pretty when you crush a bug
Than when you kick the bucket
Below the rope.
Tell her that life is what she is searching for.
And if Heaven exists,
And if it is as amazing as it seems,
It can only be filled with what she loved
Here on Earth.
Don’t dismiss breathing as a chore,
Because breathing helps you laugh,
And stops you from suffocating when you kiss,
And warms up your neck when you lie
Next to your lover,
And reminds you that one day,
You won’t breathe any longer.
Tell a six-year-old
That we don’t live forever
Because all good things will come to an end;
Whether we see them as good or not.
And tell her that Grandma will come around next Saturday
To fix the chain,
And she can ride up and down the road
Until late afternoon.