I don't think I have ever really recovered.
Sure, I have had periods of hours, days, weeks, or even months when I haven't actively entertained the thought, but it is always there in the back of my mind, ready to roar forward and put me into a full blown panic attack. It is not something I enjoy, and it is not something I would wish on anyone -- especially Luke. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening right now.
Ever since Luke figured out her was a boy he has enjoyed the games boys enjoy. He turns everything into a gun or a weapon, and it is not uncommon to hear him say he "shot" or "killed" something or someone. About a year ago he told he is going to a "warrior" when he grows up. None of this really had any meaning for him though, because dying to him just meant losing, not actually ending. Now I can see the thought evolving in his mind.
He doesn't talk about death at length; I don't think any kid, other than perhaps Kafka, ever does. It just pops up in small ways. For instance, we were driving past the cemetery where my parents' neighbor is buried. It is one of the cemeteries where only flat stones are allowed. From the backseat came Luke's voice -- "Do dead people start out with a flat stone, and then get a big one later" he asked. I told him that no, whatever stone you started out with, that was the one you ended up with. He was quiet for a moment, and then said "I want a huge one. A really big stone. Remember that." I said I would.
Luke is also very concerned about who is alive, and who is dead. He knows that with movies, and television, sometimes people who are really dead can still seem to be alive. Michael Jackson is his favorite example of this, and whenever we hear one of his songs on the radio he reminds us all that Jackson is dead. I think he wants us to know he isn't falling for the trickery, and only wants to enjoy things if he knows the true status of all involved. This is especially true when it comes to all things Star Wars.
For the past two weeks, whenever we are in the car, and there is nothing else to talk about, he will quiz me about every character, and if the actor or actress who played them is still alive.
"Luke Skywalker," he'll say.It's like he's planning a reunion or something.
"Yes," I'll say.
"Young or Old?"
I have to admit I haven't seen all of the movies, so I am not sure when he asks about some of the more obscure characters, but I usually just say they are still alive, and then go home and check IMBD to be sure.
There are days that I get tired of the questions, or his thinking about death triggers my fears, and I start to panic. So I don't have to pull to the side of the road and take a Klonopin, I stop the questions by saying five simple words: George Lucas is still alive. That always calms him down. I don't know why, but it does. It's as if his entire universe is okay, as long as the man who made his favorite part of it is still alive. Lucky kid.
If only I could go back and give my small self a similar totem to hold. Just tell her in the rough times to focus on the fact Olivia Newton John still alive, and know that everything will be okay.
I would even give her a headband to hold.