Alex has been concerned about death and what dying means and what the difference is between "regular sick" and "dying sick." We've often encouraged him to eat more by telling him that he needs to eat different foods and enough of them to stay healthy and strong. Well, he's made the connection between health and death. Tonight I fixed him fish sticks -- the same thing he ate very well just a few nights earlier, but something he's had trouble with in the past (though he loved them when he was 2-3 years old). He was crying and saying he was trying to eat, but they were making him feel sick. I told him he didn't have to eat them if he didn't feel well and then it all came out. He needed to eat so he wouldn't die.
I pulled him up onto my lap and we talked about the difference between never eating and not eating enough to be strong and healthy. Still crying, he said he needed to tell me a secret so he could stop worrying about dying.
I'm just going to dream about you and daddy when I die.
Don't ask me how I kept from losing it then and there, because I don't really have an answer. I told him that was a good idea and that I was glad he could stop worrying because he doesn't need to worry and he seemed to be soothed by that. In fact, it's just 10 minutes later and he's conked out on the couch. But man, I am so not equipped to deal with this. I am only marginally comforted by the fact that I can't imagine who could possibly be prepared for that sort of heartbreak.