"Mom? What happens to dove minds?"
"Well, they stop working when their bodies do. It's sad, isn't it?"
[Long pause during which a jerk in a giant SUV, oblivious to my presence or anything but his texting, shoves me over into the turn lane early, and I cut off a cop.]
"So, Mom? What about souls? Do doves have souls?"
Now I'm chanting Pleasedon'tpullmeoverPleasedon'tpullmeover under my breath and have lost the thread of the conversation. I take the
"What do you think?"
"Well, some people think everything has a soul and some people think only people do. Some people think nothing really does."
For my part, I hope I have one, because by now I'm pledging it to the traffic-patrol gods. It works. He continues on as I turn. "Um, yeah. You're right. Wow. Have you been talking about this with other people?"
"Sometimes," he says, around powdered cheese and a sizable mass of chewed up Doritos left over from lunch. "After we played Monster Mania but before I skinned my elbow -- I was a zombie mostly, and my friend was a ghost but then he was a vampire, but I think he cheated because you're not supposed to be a vampire on the equipment, but the playground teacher said to 'solve it yourselves' (here he makes sarcastic air quotes) -- after that, my friend said something about it. He said he thinks there might be like a big soul bedroom, and we all go there when we die, and he hopes that his turtle is there. But he said his other friend doesn't think any of them will be there."
"Well, people believe all kinds of different things."
"Yeah. Different things about God or Heaven and stuff."
"Yeah, that's true.
"You know what I think?" He cranes his head to talk to me in the rear view mirror. "I think that our soul isn't really like a ghost or an invisible brain or anything. I think that it's just the word we had to make up to talk about what we are altogether. Like, our thoughts and thoughts about thoughts and stuff, and everything nice and not nice that we did, and how we know that when we die that's the end of the line for us in our body but our body breaks up and becomes other stuff, like water in a lake or animal food and then animal poop, or stars and stuff -- and knowing that and how nice we are until we die is our soul. Also, I don't know, maybe some part of our knowing, like some part we don't know is there, goes to where lots of other things that were alive are. But no one knows exactly if that happens and how it goes and all that's too long to say so we say 'soul.'"
We pull up the driveway. I'm at a loss. When did we make the jump from baby talk to this? This? I figure I'd better give it my best try. I turn around in the driver's seat.
"Well, people really do believe all kinds of different things, and I think you're pretty darn smart and can figure out for yourself what to believe and how you think the world works. You're kind and you explore the world and that's what really matters. No matter what people call or don't call things they believe in -- God, or Heaven, or other names for it, or if they just believe in life and do their best -- we all do and love the same things, we just speak about it in different langua... What's wrong? Are you sad about the dove?
"No." He's grimacing. "It's just, you're talking a lot, and I really have to poop. Can you get bring my chips in?"