On the third anniversary
"So here's Snoozy Bear... and your octopus... and Mr. Turtle. You know, I think Mr. Turtle is pretty special."
"Why is Mr. Turtle special?"
"Well, Mr. Turtle was given to you right after you were born by a very good friend of mine."
"What good friend?"
"His name was Todd."
I don't know if you know many 4-year-olds. 4 is the age of "why," it's true - but it also seems to be the age of recalling and returning to everything you say. A few nights later....
"Why did Todd give me Mr. Turtle?"
"Well, I think he and his wife wanted to send a gift to welcome you into the world. It's a nice thing that people often do when you have a baby."
"Who was his wife?"
"His wife is named Rebecca."
"...Did they die?"
It's interesting how children can read things into the smallest details. I guess it must have been my consistent use of the past tense, or maybe just the way I was speaking. Maybe he remembers my telling him a little about Todd before. I don't know. Somehow, the question didn't surprise me, and I knew I had to be honest with him.
"Todd died, yes, but Rebecca is still alive."
"How did he die?"
"He had a big accident a few years ago."
"What kind of accident?"
"He fell from a very, very tall building."
"And that makes you die?"
"Yes, if you fall far enough, it can make you die."
Mr. Turtle has been among his foremost friends for several nights this week. He's also been talking about gifting Mr. Turtle to his newborn baby brother - but so far he's not quite ready to let him go. Mr. Turtle is awfully soft, and pretty rubby - his word for a stuffed animal that feels nice to rub with your fingers while you're going to sleep.
"Mom? Why did Todd have that accident?"
"I don't know. I wish I did. But I don't."
"Can you look it up?"
"No, I'm afraid I can't look it up."
"Because, buddy, some things you just can't look up. There are some questions we'll never know the answers to, no matter how much we wish we could."
"I wish we could, too."
"I know. Would you like to hear some funny stories about Todd? I have a lot of those."
It's been a few days since Todd came up in conversation. I have no doubt he'll ask about him again. I hope I'll still be able to be truthful, and to remind him that we shouldn't dwell on how he died, but on how he lived.
R.I.P., Crocketeer. I still miss you.