Conversations with My Son
By Stephen Tesher


My son J was six at the time we drove past a cemetery; rows upon rows of tombstones, some with glow in the dark crosses, some with taller monuments or clustered near a tomb. J has been fascinated with death. He asks me and his mother about death a lot. At first I was concerned by his persistent inquisitiveness about such a dark topic. Then I realized the topic was more fascinating than dark. It's an amazing curiosity - death. Where do we go? I don't know. We live our entire lives and never get an answer. In the end, when we are at the precipice of a life lived, all we have is faith that we - our mind, our soul, who knows? - are going to a better place. Why wouldn't a child be curious about that?

And so as we passed this cemetery, the questions began. The conversation went like this:

 J: Daddy, is that a cemetery?
Me: Yes.
J: Daddy, what are all those stones?
Me: Those are gravestones.
J: Are people buried there?
Me: Yes.
J: Underground?
Me: That's right.
J: Daddy...?
Me: Yes...?
J: Where do people go when they die?
Me: Well, some people believe that we go to a better place.
J: Is that called heaven?
Me: Some people call it heaven, yes.

 I had a feeling where his line of questioning was going. But the destination still blew my mind.

 J: Daddy...?
Me: Yes, Jaden.
J: Is heaven underground?

Emotion overwhelms me: the pure joy of a child's amazing powers of wonder. I gave him the best answer I could think of at the moment.

 Me: Heaven is wherever you want it to be.