I have had brief discussions about death with E. before - usually when driving past the huge old cemetery near her cousins' house. But we reached a new depth of detail last week while driving in the car. As usual, we were listening to a Paul Kelly CD (signed by the man himself whose nephew went to our kindy!) which is the favourite car music for both girls.
E. particularly likes a song which we call "My baby lay dying" which I have always worried was slightly inappropriate but never mind - it has a lovely melody! Anyway....this day, E. asked "Mummy, why does he say 'she lives with the worms'?". Deep breath..."Mmmmm well....when you die, the real you goes to heaven and you don't need your body anymore so sometimes it gets buried in a garden and you can grow flowers on top". (I've always liked the idea of pushing up daisies when I die). I continued "And there are worms in the ground, so that's why Paul Kelly sings "She lives with the worms". The questions continued. "But why don't you need your body, Mummy?".
Luckily, for metaphor's sake, E.'s pet snail, Icky, had died a few days earlier. "Well... you know how when Icky died, his body disappeared and we just found his shell? Well, it's a bit like that". (I'm not terribly religious - more of a Mother Nature worshipper who keeps an open mind - but I can't help but revert to comforting religious images when talking to my children about death). E. continues "But...what's the real me, Mummy?" "Oh, all the bits about you that are special....your soul". "And my heart?". "Yep...that too". "But can't you come back to life?". "No one really knows, darling".
E.'s final thought on the matter was "I wish Icky could walk around on the clouds in heaven and fall back to earth again". Low and behold, a day or so later, there was great excitement when E. found a new snail in the garden. At first she thought it was Icky grown much bigger, but now she seems to think it is a new snail who needs a new name. Said snail is now living in a house made of princess lego and likes to escape regularly and perch on top of the turret. All is well in E.'s world and Paul Kelly is still singing...."My baby lay dying"...