But What Happens to Owls When They Die?

A couple nights ago in the car on the way to Smith’s, George remembered…

George: Nanny Rosie turned into an owl.

Della: Yeah.

George: Yeah.

Della: She always stays around our house because she likes it there. At night when I’m afraid, I don’t have to be afraid because I can just go and talk to Nanny Rosie!

George: Owls are nocturnal. 

The next morning in the car on the way to school, I stopped at the end of the driveway and checked the mailbox to see if a book I ordered had arrived. Della asked what the book was about. I said it was about a woman whose mother died. She said, “That’s sad!” I said, yeah, but I’m also writing a book about my mom dying, and I want to get ideas. Don’t worry, I’m not going to cry. I’m okay. I like writing about her. Then George said…

George: Yeah but we don’t have to cry about Nanny Rosie because she turned into an owl.

Me (uncertainly): Yeah.

George: But…what happens to owls when they die?

Della: They turn into other animals maybe?

George: Yeah, or maybe humans? Or maybe other kinds of birds. Or plants.

Me: Yeah, you know, the interesting thing about plants, like the flowers in Nanny Rosie’s garden, is that they come back every year. They go dormant in the winter and every spring they come back. They never die.

George: Oh! So Nanny Rosie didn’t die. She’s still alive. What does dormant mean?

Me: It’s like hibernating. Plants hibernate in the winter, they go dormant.

George: I was kind of thinking, because her name is Nanny Rosie, that maybe she would turn into a rose. One of those kinds of flowers.

Me: Oh yeah, that’s really nice George. I like that.

George: So next time we see the prettiest flower, that will be what she turned into.

Me: Yeah!

Della: How do they make milk?

George: How does what make milk?

Della: How do they make milk?

Me: Um, cows make milk in their bodies and farmers or machines pull on the cow’s nipples and the milk comes out. Cows make milk the same way that human bodies make milk for their babies. All mammals make milk. It’s really amazing.

Della: I don’t want to have babies for two reasons. One, because of the pain. And two, I don’t want to have a baby sucking milk from my nipples!

Me: Well, look, that’s fine if that’s what you want. But I just want to tell you: I know I said it was painful giving birth and that I was sick a lot when I was pregnant. But there are pills you can take so that you’re not sick, and there’s medicine you can take during the birth so that it doesn’t hurt. I took that medicine when I had George and it stopped hurting.

George: What?!

Me: Yes. And actually, it’s kind of nice to have a baby sucking on your nipples.

Della: Oh! Okay!

George: I’d like to see a baby sucking on a mommy’s nipples!

Me: I bet you would!

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