Conversations with My Son: Death, Dying and the Dream We Call Life

You always ask the best questions while we lay in bed on Boys night. We lay there together in the dark talking about life and all things that come with it. Last night, you asked me a question so deep it gave me pause. You asked:

“Dad? What if when we die, we find out that our life here on Earth was just a dream, and when we die, we’re really just waking up?”

You waited patiently for me to answer you. I took a moment, then I responded:

“I hope you’re right. I believe our goal here on this Earth is to gather all of the wisdom, perspective, empathy, compassion and love that we can. Share what we learn and be kind. When we ‘wake up’, we are to bring with us all the experiences and knowledge for use once we’re fully awake.”

“For what Dad’ you asked.

“I don’t know, I’m still dreaming” I said.

“Dad?” You interrupted… “When will we die? Do we get to pick our favorite age and just be that age forever?”

“You make me smile Mijo. I wish that were true” I said. “But the truth is you never know. You may live to be 100. But we never know when we’re going to die. That’s why its so important to make sure you live your life in a way that you’ll be proud to look back on once you’ve been awakened.”

I asked you if you knew how much Daddy loves you…

Being my son, you saw that as an absolutely ridiculous question. You laughed and said

“No Dad, I have no idea”…

I understood that was a silly question.

“Well,” I said, “you don’t control when you leave this Earth. BUT, you completely control how you live while you’re alive and dreaming. For me, I always want to be sure that while I’m here, you know how much I love you, how proud I am of you and I want you to know every day that you bring me joy beyond words. I could choose to live my days screaming, crying and being miserable. But if I were to ‘wake up’ (die) tomorrow, I would wish I did better. Loved more and shared more of my life with you – and I would wish I spent more time sharing in your life too. We don’t need to waste our time here on anything that we don’t want to bring with us when our time comes.”

I continued…

“Maybe that’s why God doesn’t allow us to choose when we go. Its up to us to gather all the meaningful joy and wisdom this life has to offer. Just as important is how much knowledge, wisdom and love that we leave behind. Not just for the ones we love, but for our fellow ‘dreamers’ too. That is our homework.”

You rolled over for some cuddles and just before you fell asleep on me, you said

“I love you Dada, you get 8 points for that.”  (See the “Shame and the Make Sense Game“)

You are wise beyond your years. Carry that responsibility proudly my son…


These are our actual conversations, as they happen. He asks me to define the words he doesn’t yet know, and he truly listens. Its clear that he processes it all and thinks deeply. We have great discussions, especially right before he falls asleep. I write these for him, I write a lot for him just in case I “wake up”.

But also for me. It helps remind me of moments in life not filled with so much ugliness. We all should spend more energy on the things that matter, there’s not many things in this life that truly do matter.

Perhaps there’s something here for us all.

I love you all.

Don’t blink – you don’t want to “wake up” only to find you could have done a better job while you were alive.

Your Brother in Fight,


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