Ben and I were walking home from the grocery store sometime in 2004 when I looked down and saw the most beautiful moth lying perfectly flat in the street. It was like a bug under glass in the museum—it had been run over by a car with its huge furry wings spread out and it was in perfect condition. Ben had been walking a little ahead of me. I thought he hadn’t noticed it.
“Ben!” I said. “Come look at this bug.”
The way he acted, it seemed as though he had seen it but didn’t want to acknowledge it. He stood planted to his spot and ignored me.
“Ben, come and see this beautiful bug!”
Reluctantly he came over and looked down at it. Then he looked up and away.
“I don’t want to see it,” he said.
“But it’s really amazing,” I said. “Why don’t you want to see it?”
“Because that bug is dead,” he said.
“Okay,” I said. As we continued walking, I thought, This child is not even three. How does he know what “dead” is?
“Ben,” I said. “What’s ‘dead’, anyway? Do you know what that means?”
“Yes, I do!” he said adamantly.
“What does it mean?” I asked.
“It means that it just doesn’t matter anymore.”