Death and Evolution


He asks me where Stanley is, the car Lizzy misses in his Cars graphic novel.

"Stanley is dead, honey. He's not really, because he's really a car. But these Cars are fantasy and they're like humans and Stanley is dead."

"But Lizzy can still dream about him?"

"Yes. And she has many memories of him, too, because she loved him."

"Like Nemo's mommy?"

"Yes, Nemo's mommy died."

"And Ellie?"

"Yup. Everything that is alive dies. Cars don't really die, because they're not really alive, but people are alive. Everything that is born dies."

"Like the dinosaurs?"

"Right! And the dinosaurs all died out millions of years ago. Before there were any people. Even before the ancestor that people evolved from."

"???"

"Here, let me show you on wikipedia."

And that's how we ended up at the American Museum of Natural History on Saturday, going to see the dinosaur bones and the human evolution exhibition.

Which, honestly, I probably loved much more than he did. But in a year of being members, we only ever went to the dinosaur exhibit, so this was a Big Deal; we saw much more of the museum than we ever had before and he only got scared a few times.

My recreation of the conversation we had is obviously truncated. We also had to go over what happens when people die: they are just dead. No breathing, no heart beat, no thinking or dreaming. And decomposition - which I skimmed over, thank you very much. Don't really want him imagining that yet. But he did want to know why the bones stayed around for us to find. And decomposition eventually gets us to bone, so I skimmed over the gross part.

There was also a side conversation about the early scenes in the movie Up where I cry: the babies in the sky, who don't get to be born. I did have to explain that babies don't really get delivered by storks, which he was calling sea gulls: so cute.