This morning, my little boy, 4, asked me:
“What does ‘unconscious’ mean?” We were driving up the sunlit road toward his daycare.
I said, glancing back at him: “It means like when you’re asleep. That’s called being unconscious.”
He thought about that for a minute. Then he said, “I think when I die, I’ll be unconscious. I’ll be asleep. But you can’t breathe when you die,” he went on. “But we have to breathe.”
Driving through the sunshine, I said the kind of thing I always say when my children bring up the topic of death. “Little friend,” I said slowly, “you don’t have to worry about that — that’s not going to happen for a very, very long time. And no matter what,” I went on, “I am always always always always going to love you!”
He said, “your voice sounds funny.”
Question: When I tell my children that I will love them forever, am I lying?
I do not believe that I am.
This is why, in the last analysis, I am respectful of people of faith.
I know nothing more than they do; and they have chosen to live within the validation of a moral intuition that seems to me transcendent.
Also: its objects — such as eternal life — may not be real.
But longing is real; anguish is real; love is real.