About six months ago Alessia figured out death, and not in an abstract way. She figured it out in her heart. She burst into tears and said "I don't want us to die. I don't want to die." I told her I didn't want her to die either, but everyone does die. I talked about my dad in heaven with God and his parents. I hugged her. We read books in which death is the natural end of a life well lived. Mostly I tried to give her space.
Alessia has always been a vegetarian. I think at first it was mostly a texture issue. After she figured out death, she became a vegetarian by conviction. She respects that the rest of us eat meat, but the thought of eating it herself is repulsive to her.
A little while later, the issue of animals eating other animals came up. I told her that was just how God made certain animals. I could tell she was thinking through that one. Then one day at the Museum of Science, she put on an animal costume and asked me what the animal ate. I told her that I thought the animal ate fish. She got a very serious look on her face and ran off. A few moments later she returned to triumphantly inform me that the museum staff had told her the animal was a vegetarian.
Yesterday we were drawing together. She said something about a big fish eating a little fish, and then added "the little fish wanted to be eaten." I said, "Oh no, nothing wants to be eaten. It's just the way of things." Again, she fell into a thoughtful silence.