I was on my way home from church with two of my daughters, Anna and Avery, and we stopped at a local grocery store to pick up drinks and snacks for the trip home (we live 45 minutes from church - it's a long story). As we checked out, an old man bagged our groceries for us. Normally I would say "an older man," but this man was old.
"You are old," Anna said to the employee.
I felt the hairs on my head shocking into gray. I was horrified - even though Anna might as well have plucked the words straight out of my brain. Fortunately, the man was hard of hearing and he asked if Anna was telling him how old she was. I lied and nodded and told him she had just had a birthday.
I bent down to Anna and whispered in her ear to shut up. It's what I meant. I actually said something more along the lines of, "Anna, let's talk about this when we get to the car, okay?"
"You are old," she said again. "Are you about to die?"
I'm surprised I stayed on my feet, as one liter of blood after another rushed into my face. I was fervently praying for the Lord to close this man's ears - more even than He already had. I didn't stick around to hear an answer. I grabbed my groceries and properly ran out of the store.
On the way to the car, I tried to explain to Anna the importance of not asking people if they're about to die. That it just isn't polite.
"Well," I began, "people don't like to think about dying."
"Just because," I finished. "Do you understand?"
"Do you understand?" is how I stop my children from arguing with me or from asking questions that I'm just not sure how to answer for them at their ages. It is how I end the conversation.
Anna has been talking a lot about not wanting to die since then. I wonder if I did that. I'm afraid to know the answer.