Amendment: In this post, I write about telling my children it was possible that they might live until 3010. Upon reflection, I realize that human beings do not actually live to be a thousand years old. I was of course thinking 2110. But it was an honest mistake. I think.
Wednesday of last week when I walked in to get my kids from school and take their teachers late Christmas offerings of fudge and gift cards, Analisa's teacher stopped me.
"Ana wrote something really special in her journal," she said, her hand on her heart. "You have to read it. I made a copy and sent it home. It's in her folder."
"Oh, wonderful," I said. "I can't wait to see it. Thank you."
"It's very special," she continued. "You have a very special little girl. I would keep it to show to her when she's older. Ana's going to make a great teenager."
This last statement took me aback and made me stutter as I thanked her again. Does any parent expect to hear someone forecast that their child will be a great teenager? Does such a thing exist?
Now granted, Analisa is an easy child, a very loving and sensitive child. Let me illustrate this with a little story.
I was playing memory with Ella the other day for the...I don't know - millionth time, maybe. She was beating me again. Every time she went to turn over a second card, confident in her match, I'd mumble, "I don't think..." But, of course, she'd get it, and her matches were something like two to my one. Looking for the bright side, I said to Matthew, "I hope all these Memory matches help me stave off Alzheimer's when I'm old." (Never mind the fact that a three-year-old was already beating me in my current exercises of remembering.)
"Mama..." said Ana in a chiding tone, but I didn't hear her because her Papa was making a joke.
"Oh, then, you'd better stop right now!" he said.
I turned around to glare in his direction. "Are you saying you want me to get Alzheimer's in my old age?" I asked. "Fine. That's fine. When I do I'm going to start dating other people!"
"Mama..." said Anie again as her Papa laughed. "You know I don't like you guys talking about when you're old."
"I know, Ana," I replied quietly, thinking back to our little conversation on New Year's Eve.
It was about 8:30pm on December 31st. We had just finished reading another chapter of Nancy Drew: The Secret in the Old Clock. We read Nancy Drew every night now - Analisa, Berto and me. Through these second readings with my kids I'm reliving my youth and all the excitement of my first mystery stories for which my love has yet to dim. Anyhow, I closed the book and said to the kids, "That's the last Nancy Drew we're ever going to read in 2010. Tonight's New Year's Eve. Tomorrow it'll be January of a new year."
"3010?" asked Ana.
"Berto!" I said in a warning tone as he began to snicker. Then I turned to Ana. "No, it'll be 2011, right? Because the second number changes, not the first."
"Yeah, you and I probably won't even be alive in 3010, Ana," said Berto with a sneer.
I don't like kids talking about their future demise; it's unseemly.
"You could be," I said. "It's possible. People can live to be that old."
Ana's eyes grew wide and misty. I should have seen the next question swimming in those sensitive pools.
"Is there a possibility you and Papa will still be alive?" she asked with a catch in her voice.
I couldn't think. It was too much pressure to come up with a safe, comforting answer. I said, "Uhhhhh...."
Ana started to cry pitifully.
"Oh, Ana!" I said. "It's okay." I wanted to shrug and say, These things happen! But that didn't seem to be what was needed.
"Look," I said. "If we're all good people, and we help others, and we do what we know our Creator expects of us, we'll live again. Like my Grandmama; I'm going to see her again, because she was a good person."
Ana just kept crying. I wrapped her up in a hug. "Anyway, Jesus may come back before then, right? And when he does come back, he'll call our names, so it's like we're sleeping really - waiting for him."
When the rivulets continued to flow, I took her to see her Papa.
"What are you crying about?" he asked in typical man response. Once I told him, however, he folded her onto his lap with an, "Oh, Ana!" and gave me a look, a twinkle in his eyes. We both know how sensitive our little girl is.
"I don't want you and Mama to get old!" she cried.
He soothed her and held her, and I wrapped it up by saying, "Ana, just remember what Jesus said. It's one of the first Bible verses a kid ever learns. It was one of my favorite when I was a child...For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." I was proud for remembering that verse at a moment when it was needed. I said gently, "That sums it all up, and that's why it will be like sleeping, as long as we're good people, okay?"
She was quietly sniffling at that point, and it only took a few more minutes before she was at last ready to part from us to go to sleep on the last evening of 2010. But first she had to give her Papa and me at least five super-squeeze hugs each, the kind that leave bruises on our ribs and foretell her future as a female weight-lifting champion.
"Ana...she is so loving," Matthew said to me when she had gone to bed.
"Yes, she is," I replied.
It was only a few days after that conversation that her teacher told me of the journal entry. It was as beautiful as she said it would be, and here it is: