Headless Hikers

My daughter wanted to know what she should do if she comes back as a ghost and her head can’t remember where her body was buried?

Besides some of our more obvious genetic similarities, my daughter and I are also currently sporting matching muffin tops. With nice weather finally here, that means increasing the frequency of our walks.

I’ve written before about how many different trails we have within a short drive, about the nonstop chatter that is the soundtrack to these hikes. Written word is insufficient to adequately convey exactly how nonstop. She likes to lead these excursions, and I sometimes find myself unconsciously falling off the pace in an attempt to enjoy some of the “peace and quiet” that she somehow is able to unironically claim as her favorite part.

Days when time limits us to strolls around the neighborhood require more vigilance. Traffic is scarce, but not nonexistent. Our increased proximity not only makes it harder to tune her out, it also forces me to actually answer some of her more persistent questions, particularly the ones relating to unfortunate animals not fast enough to evade oncoming automobiles.

Discussions about life and death have always been difficult with her. She is smart enough to know that my answers are evasive, but still too young to fully comprehend more than the basic principles behind any honest answer.

At least that is what I thought, until our most recent discovery of a flattened snake. What I had thought would be a good teaching moment about the importance of watching for cars instead turned into a bumbling attempt to ease some of her concerns regarding death.

She’s not scared of us dying and leaving her. Not worried that the snake felt pain or concerned about whether or not there really is an afterlife.

She’s worried about her head. She knows that bodies are buried after death but after attending a funeral with her grandmother also has some ideas about going to Heaven. Her way of making this make sense is to assume that the head doesn’t get buried. She wanted to know what she should do if she comes back as a ghost and her head can’t remember where her body was buried?

I reassured her as best I could. Obviously since the brain is inside the head, it should have no problem remembering. This is why it’s the head that floats up to heaven.

She pondered this for a minute, eventually nodding her head in acceptance. I know that this won’t be the last time this comes up, that it won’t always be that easy.

I hope to keep these walks going for as long as she’s willing to tag along. Some of these conversations are going to be hard, some of them uncomfortable. I can use exercise as my motivation, pretend to complain about all the talking, but really, isn’t that pretty much the point?


This post was previously published on ThirstyDaddy and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Photo credit: Jeremy Barnes