Death at dinnertime

Steve Fisher 1. června 2012 • 06:00

Editor's note: Steve Fisher is still recovering from his experience last week with the Prague Driving Academy. As a result, he is once again turning over his column to his occasional young guest contributor, Honzík.

Every night during dinner my parents ask me what I learned in school that day. They always seem sad when I tell them that I don't remember anything. I guess they're hoping I'll teach them something that they didn't learn when they were in school and not paying attention.


So, the other night when they asked me, I tried really hard to think of something, and then I said, "I learned what happens to people when they die."


My Mom and Dad looked at each other, and then my Dad excused himself to go to the bathroom.


"Thanks a lot," my Mom said to my Dad. That seemed like a weird thing to say when somebody goes to the bathroom, but parents often say weird things, which is something you probably already know if you have parents.


After my Dad left, my Mom looked down at her plate and took a big bite of her food and then did that waving move with her fork which means she wants me to eat. I guess she forgot what I had said, so I asked her, "Do you know what happens to people when they die, Mom?"


She shook her head and then put some more food in her mouth, even though it looked like she still had some in there that she hadn't swallowed yet.


I told her, “Jimmy says that if they’re good they go to heaven and if they’re bad they go to hell.”


My Mom looked like maybe her dinner wasn't tasting so good to her, but then she managed to swallow all that food she had in her mouth and said, “Well, some people believe that, but no one really knows.”


“Jimmy says that he knows that his grandma is in heaven because his parents told him so.”


“Okay,” my Mom said. “That’s a nice thing to believe, but still nobody really knows what happens to us after we die.”


“And what about Gramps?” I asked. “Is he in heaven?”


“I…don’t know,” my Mom said.


“You mean he could be in hell?” I asked.


“No!" she said. "I mean, of course not. Your grandfather was a wonderful man.”


“But you’re not sure.”


“Well, nobody is a hundred percent sure, but…”


“So Gramps could be in hell.”


“He’s not in hell!”


“I thought you said you don’t know.”


And that was when my Dad finally came back to the table. “So, did you and your Mom have a good talk?" he asked me.


“Mom said Gramps could be in hell.”


“I did not!” my Mom said.


“She said she doesn’t know if he is or not,” I explained.


“Okay, look,” my Dad said. “The thing is, your Mom and I don’t believe in heaven and hell.”


“What do you believe?” I asked him.


“We believe that nobody knows what happens when you die," he said. "You know, people believe all kinds of different things. Some people believe that dead people become ghosts. Some believe that after you die you're born again as another creature, like a tiger or a bird or…”


“A dinosaur?”


“Uh, well, no, not any more. There aren’t any dinosaurs anymore.”


“But, maybe I was a dinosaur before?”


“Yeah. I mean, that’s what some people think.”


“And what do you think, Dad?


“I think that when you die, it’s probably just like going to sleep.”


“Will you ever wake up?”


“No, you don’t wake up.”


“Do you dream?”


“No, you don’t dream.”


“How do you know you don’t dream?”


“Because your brain stops working.”


“How do you know that?”


“Let’s just say that I do, okay?”


“But you said nobody really knows what happens, right?”


“That’s right.”


“So, maybe, Gramps is lying in the ground in that box, and he’s wishing that someone would come and dig him up, but nobody’s ever going to do that because you think his brain isn’t working, but you’re wrong?”


“Jesus!” my Mom said to my Dad.


“No, no, no,” my Dad said. “It’s not like that, really.”


“Shouldn’t we dig him up just to be sure?” I asked.


“No. He’s fine. I mean, he’s dead. For sure. He’s not thinking anything.”


“And maybe he’s in heaven, like Jimmy’s grandma?”


“Hey, if you want to believe that, you can.”


“And I can believe in God?”


“Yeah. Sure. It’s up to you.”


“Because Jimmy says that if you don’t believe in God, then you can’t get into heaven.”


“Well, that’s probably what Jimmy’s parents believe.”


“But you and Mom don’t.”




“But if you did, and it’s true, then you would go to heaven when you die. And if it isn’t true, then it wouldn’t matter that you believed it. You wouldn’t be sad about it because your brain wouldn’t be working. So it’s better to believe it, right?”




"Can we go to church this Sunday?" I asked.


And so, in the end, I finally managed to teach my parents something, which was to never again ask me what I learned in school.


Klíčová slova: rxrx, stevefisher

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