A DIALOGUE WITH MY DAUGHTER THROUGH
THE WINDOW OF HER DOLLHOUSE
“The days never end, but people end, right?”
My daughter asks me this today. Dazed
by her question, my mind goes blank. I stare.
Then I say, “Yes, people end. All people end
when they’re old. It’s called death. Days never
end, though, because days are not people
who have blood and bones and skin and…” “Never
mind,” she says, going back to the people
in her dollhouse, bending their arms, the right
leg, the left leg, to seat each one in a chair.
But this explanation will not be the end
of it. I know there will be other days,
tomorrow, perhaps, when she will take me unaware
with “Why do people end? Will Mommy end?
Will you end? Will I end?” So I’ll have to get it right.
I’ll have to clear my throat, sigh as wise people
sigh before I say, “Emily, you must never
doubt that God made people end to fill the endless days
in Heaven.” Then she’ll ask about Heaven, and right
away I’ll be in trouble because I’ll never
be convinced about a place where people
have wings and play harps, a place without days
and nights, or of just one day without end.
Even if satisfied with that, she’ll want to know where
it is and about God and what gives God the right
to make us do anything he pleases, as though people
were dolls and the world a dollhouse. At my wit’s end,
I’ll probably blurt out something I’ll regret for days,
such as, “God’s like a person, but we really can’t compare
God to a person because God, you know, will never
end as people do.” To which she’ll say, “So the days
are like God then because the days don’t end
either, right dad?” I will smile in despair.
I will smile and nod and hope she never
asks again. I will watch her play with her people,
watch her bend their wooden heads to the left and the right.
—from Rattle #25, Summer 2006