There is an important coda to the memory I wrote a several years ago about Annie Moore. I think about it sometimes when I work on my biography, because it is just as much a part of my story as it is hers, but I am the one left behind to tell it, to relive its haunting impact.
It was the night after I answered Annie’s question about how I had met Jesus at three years of age, and she had another one for me: was I afraid of dying. I told her I was more afraid of the suffering than of death itself. “Of course,” she replied. “I think everyone is.”
But then she pursued the issue. I told her that I almost did die – at the same age, when I was about three – from a complication from the chickenpox and, of course, I had no clue what death was then. Then she asked, “Aren’t you glad now that you didn’t die?” I told her I didn’t know. I think I said something to the effect that since there is no control over that and I would have been so little and am still so young, it wouldn’t have mattered that much in the long run.
Annie wasn’t going to let it go. “But what about your parents?” she persisted. I don’t remember my exact words, but the gist of it was I was so little, that they didn’t know who I really was yet, that they would get over it. The longer you are attached to someone, the harder it gets to deal with it. That was my naïve assumption.
She didn’t respond after that, and I always wondered later if she ever thought about that again or if she ever asked anyone else, just as I wonder how she would have answered the question for herself.