“Daddy, are you dying?” my 2.5 year old daughter asked my husband after he let out a painful grunt. He was not aware she knew the word “dying.”
“No, I’m just getting old. My back hurts,” he explained.
“Ohh. You’re growing into baby,” she said, pleased with her conclusion.
When my husband told me what she’d said, we laughed. But then I wondered: how did she connect pain and dying? And what did she know that we didn’t about “growing into a baby”?
After my husband, daughter, her twin brother and I spent the past week in Florida visiting my husband’s grandfather in a memory care home, I realized my daughter was on to something. Pushing 91, her great-grandfather needs round-the-clock supervision and assistance with getting in and out beds, chairs, cars, going to the bathroom. His memory care home offers arts and crafts, and he and the twins sat side-by-side. He practiced holding the brush with his stroke-affected right hand; my twins practiced staying in the lines. He took a nap when they took nap, and they all went to bed at 8pm. Just like my children, Great Grandpa doesn’t have an appetite for dinner, but always for ice cream.
Growing old IS like becoming a baby again. So where did my daughter’s wisdom come from?
What if before we are conceived, our souls are waiting around in Heaven, hanging out with the souls who have already passed on? What if my children knew my great-grandparents because their souls had connected in the afterlife—which is also the “beforelife”? What if that’s how she knew? Maybe old souls coach the new souls as they enter tiny unborn bodies, encourage them as they are pushed out of the womb and into this bright, beautiful world. And maybe unborn souls welcome souls who recently passed into their arms, comforted like babies.
I like to imagine my grandmother in Heaven holding my future grandchild, ready to encourage her when it’s her time to be born. I like to believe my wise daughter is right—we all grow back into babies.