Death & Marriage - big discussions with A Small Person

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Despite all the discussion of marriage equality about the place, I haven't actually spoken about it with my daughter.  She's only four, and call me a wimp, but I'm just not ready for her to find out about the homophobia and hatred that lurks about the place.  But out of nowhere the other day, she started a conversation about marriage.

"Can you marry two people?" she asks.

"No, sweetheart, just one," I answered simply, not at all ready to delve into the topic of polygamy. 

"But you can change who you are married to?" she asked.

"Oh, yes, you can do that," I said, smiling at my husband who was nearby, listening to this play out.  I'm pretty sure he knew my smile meant that I was amused by this conversation and not that I was secretly compiling divorce papers.

Having received answers to her questions, our four-year old was ready to continue her train of thought.

"So a girl can marry a girl.  And a boy can marry a boy", she said.  This was not a question. There was no rising inflection at the end.  No raised eyebrow.  No searching into my eyes to try to pick up on my thoughts on the topic.  This was a definitive statement.

"I want to marry someone the same age as me," she continued, "because then they will die at the same time as me."  She decided she would marry either one of her two close friends at school. But she hadn't decided yet.  One was a girl, the other a boy.

I smiled at her, but inwardly my heart dropped.   This was something that I often ponder.  How we can fall in love, make a commitment to someone, have children with them, and love each of them with such a fierce love, all the while knowing that something may happen one day that will take them away from us.  That we each have our own lifespan determined by genetics, environment, lifestyle, and fate.  That we each know when we began but we don't know when we end. That the very thought of losing someone you love so intensely is unbearable even as a hypothetical thought.

For now though, she just needed someone to understand her thoughts and fears.

"I get it, sweetheart," I said. "You don't want to die alone," I said, as I put my arm around her and squeezed her close.

 And isn't that how we all feel, queer, straight, or otherwise?

 

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