Will you have to die?

As I was reading to #2 this evening, she rolled over and said:

Mommy said Harry Houdini died trying to get out of one of his magic tricks. That they locked him in and he couldn’t get out. Is that true? How do they know he died? What if he just disappeared?

I said I had thought he died from other causes, but I wasn’t certain.[1] I didn’t understand why she was asking about Houdini’s death and would have been happy to move on to more cheerful topics. She, however, was still thinking about it. She followed up with:

Why do people have to die? That’s what I don’t get about life. Why people have to die. Will you have to die?

I didn’t know what to say. I looked at her a moment as I tried to concoct a good response—good here means not a blatant lie and not the cold, depressing truth—and then muttered the entirely unsatisfying: I don’t know why people have to die, that’s just the way it is.

As she looked at me thinking about my answer, I could tell she wasn’t entirely content. Before she could ask me again, I hugged her tightly too me and then lied: I reassured her that I’ll always be there for her. What else could I do?

  1. I have long thought his death was caused by blows to the stomach that seemed to have ruptured his appendix or something along those lines, which Wikipedia largely confirms. But I saw no reason to say The Mother was wrong.  ↩