A carnival season memory from the other night:
I am walking with my daughter, just shy of four years, from what we know as the Sugar Store toward the Krewe D’Etat parade. She has mango sorbet on the tip of her nose as she negotiates a fat cone of the stuff. Three blocks away, the drum tattoo of a high school band gives way to a passing float and the throw-me-something cheers of a crowd.
She squints down the block, sees the lighted float cruise through.
“We missed that one.”
“There’ll be another. It’s a long parade.”
“Can everything stay just like it is now?”
“What do you mean?”
She examines her sorbet cone, then looks directly at me.
“Everybody dies. You’re going to die. One day I’m going to die.”
My breath leaves me. Try explaining the ultimate tragedy of life to a four year old. Try doing it without falling back on the tropes and cliches of theology. Try telling the truth at this moment. I don’t even know how to begin.
Instead, a calico bounds off the porch of a shotgun double.
“Oh look,” she says. “A kitty cat.”
And she rushes toward it, laughing.
* * *
Happy Mardi Gras, everyone.