Doctor Who: The Doctor and I Explain Death to a Four-Year-Old
The reason that my daughter isn't named Relm isn't only because my wife thinks that Final Fantasy VI was a lackluster entry in the franchise. It's mostly because we named her after our best friend Kat Cresswell, who we lost to cancer nine years, two months, and 16 days ago. She was an amazing girl whose example colors all I create.
Every year I visit her grave on the anniversary of her death. Every year but this one, as I was covering Comicpalooza on that date. Poverty dictated that I delay my pilgrimage, and the next time I was in Pearland was to pick up birthday presents for my daughter from Kat's mother, my daughter's Yaya and honorary grandparent.
South Park Cemetery is on the way back from Yaya's house, and I decided that this was when I would take my daughter, just turned four-years-old, to see where her namesake was buried.
"Come on, heart," I said as we got out of the car. "There's something I want to show you, but you have to be quiet, like in church." She was still wearing the pretty rose dress she had attended services in with my sister-in-law that morning. I've never been to church myself. I just assume it's quiet there.
We walked to the bench that bears Kat's name. Shaded by a tree, it over looks the tombstone proper, inscribed with her name, dates, and lyrics from "You Are My Sunshine." I remember carrying her coffin to this spot like it was yesterday.
Waiting for the announcement of the Twelfth Doctor
"This is a cemetery," I told her. "It's a place where we put the bodies of people who have died. Your Aunt Kat, who has your name, is buried here, and I like to come here to think about her and tell her that I still love her very much. I wanted to bring you here today, so you could see the place."
My daughter crawled up onto my knee as I knelt. I was crying and my voice was hoarse, and she put her arms around me.
"Maybe she'll regenerate," she said.
My daughter isn't very clear on death. This is somewhat my fault because she loves Doctor Who and I am loathe to tell her it's not real just as I wouldn't dream of telling her Santa Claus wasn't real.
She's seen death. Her daycare has lost several classroom pets, even having tiny funerals for them. She knows dead people go to Heaven (More complicated after-life discussions can wait until later), and that her Aunt Kat watches out for her.
But her hero is The Doctor. He's her Jesus, her imaginary friend, her older brother, and lots of other things. That's awesome, of course, but it's given her kind of a skewed viewpoint on death. She knows The Doctor dies, but really doesn't, and she knows that Matt Smith is an actor, not an actual Time Lord. She's less clear on Patrick Troughton, and was devastated when I told her that he would not be the new Doctor because he too was in Heaven. How could The Doctor be in Heaven? This song is ending, but the story never ends, and all that.