Jabber (from the backseat of the van): Mama, are we going to die someday?
Me: Yes, honey. All living creatures die at some time.
Jabber: Everything that's alive dies?
Me: Yes. The people, the animals, the trees and flowers are all alive. And they all die eventually.
Jabber: What about when the world falls down?
Me: Well, the world has been going on for a long, long time, and it's still going. I don't think you need to worry too much about it falling down.
Jabber: But what about after we die?
Me: After we die, the world keeps going on. Other people are still alive, and the world is still there.
Jabber: But how? Why?
Me: We're only one small part of the whole world, honey.
Jabber: (greatly dismayed) But how can we even feel like we're important then???
I did go on to explain to him how important we are to our loved ones, and I even threw in some hopeful thoughts about how important one person could be to the future. I talked about wonderful leaders, great inventions, making the world a better place, but when I checked his face in the rearview mirror, he still looked a little bleak. This is, after all, the child who woke up one morning at age three and responded to my cheery good morning with, "It doesn't matter. Nothing matters anymore."
For such a little guy, he sure thinks big thoughts.