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Lions Roar : September 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2011 16 I dug a crude grave on the bank. Then we combed the river’s edge for a suitable gravestone. I set the bird in its grave with a sapling shaped like a wishbone at the tip. “No, daddy. The worms and bugs are gonna crawl on her and eat her. See?” She pointed at a pink earthworm in the turned earth. I patted the soil and placed the grave- stone on top. I sat down with Bumps on my lap and we looked at the grave. The warm sun was angling through the trees. Shadows spread over the water. The winter had been long, and it was a relief to have my jacket off, the soft air and sun touching my skin again. I watched the side of my daughter’s face as she stared at the grave. I wondered what she was thinking. “Daddy?” “Yeah.” “Will I grow old and die and have worms crawling on me?” I looked back at the rods. “Yeah, Bumps, someday. But not for a long time.” “No! I don’t wanna grow old and die. You have to hold my head so I won’t grow up.” Iputmyhandontopofherheadand pressed down, exaggerating the effort and trembling. She laughed, and there they were— those bumps, two hills, one on each cheek from smiling. “Harder, daddy. Harder!” I put my left hand on top of the other, pressing and shaking all the more. She cackled. “For what it’s worth, Bumps, I don’t believe anything truly dies. But we’ll get into that when you’re a little older.” She held my arms around her and was quiet for a long while. I could almost see her mind trying to wrap itself around this dark new thing in her world. “Daddy,” she said finally, “when I grow old and die, you wipe the icky worms off when they crawl on me, okay?” “Yeah, Bumps. I’ll wipe the worms off you.” ♦