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  • This is what we used to call a “Sprout”, a story inspired by another story. Reading Chrissy Boylan’s story, “Blaspheme”, reminded me of something that happened when my son J.B. (known as Jonathon then) was about 5 years old. It too had to do with death.

    First, a little bit of background to set the scene. Jonathon, being an only child, had created an imaginary family that included 3 siblings, 2 sisters and a brother. They were from New York City. He wove very extensive stories around things they did together,and they became a regular part of his dialogue for awhile there, and he was a talker. Kathy and I got used to hearing about them, and he always had interesting stories about what they did together. Once, a lady Kathy worked with baby sat for us, and the next day at work she asked Kathy, “Does Pete have a family from a previous marriage – from New York?” He had convinced her that these were real siblings. And, I guess they were, in his imagination. It was pretty cool.

    One Saturday, I was driving up to the Building Supply store, about a half hour up the road, to get some supplies, and Jonathon was along for the ride. A Jimi Hendrix song came on the radio, I think it was “All Along the Watchtower”. About halfway through the song, Jonathon asked, “Dad – who IS that?” I replied that it was Jimi Hendrix, and that he had been the greatest guitarist in the world back in the day. He thought about that for a moment, then asked, “Is he still alive?” I said, “No….he died!” He thought about that for a minute, then changed the subject and started talking about his imaginary siblings.
  • “There was a birthday party for all of them. It was the best party ever. Everyone was there, and they had the best time. There were games, and cake, and singing, and laughing. They all agreed that it was the best birthday ever.”

    “Well, that sounds like a wonderful time. What happened after that?”

    “Poof! They died!”

    And that was it. As we drove along, I kept checking to see if he was o.k., and he was just bopping along to the music, in his own happy, little world. I didn’t know whether to continue the conversation, if he needed to process their deaths, or if he already had, and that’s what the great party was all about.

    And what role did Jimi Hendrix dieing have in all of this? Was it just coincidence, or did that revelation open the door to an exit strategy for the imaginary siblings that he was ready to grow out of? Who knows?

    I decided to leave it alone, and he never, ever mentioned them again. Just “Poof!” – and they were gone. Just like that.
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