The family and I were at a friend’s house today. Our friend has a dog. He used to have two dogs, but one of them died several months ago. I called the remaining dog by the other one’s name tonight, ‘causing some wistful sadness, confusion and this conversation:

Rio: Did Taiko die?

My friend: Yes.

Rio, to her dad, looking very lovingly at him and stroking his knees: Daddy, your Argentina dog died. (ed. note: This is true. Her dad had a dog, in Argentina, and it died. About 20 years ago.) I think your Argentina dog met Taiko. And I think their parents met too. And then their dog parents arranged a playdate. They are two dogs who had an Arrangement. I think they are having that playdate RIGHT NOW!

Dog: AwwoooooOOOOOOOOO!

Serena, crouching down and arching her back like a dog, neck stretched out and mouth a perfect ‘O’: AwooooooOOOOOOOO!

Rio went on to imagine all the dogs that had ever lived arranging playdates. She also figured that when Daddy and Mommy are both dead, we will meet and arrange a playdate. And best of all, when she dies, she will meet us and we will all play together. She gave no indication of where we would be meeting or what we would do on these playdates, but they would definitely be “arranged”. I think she must have just learned that word, and kind of loves it.

Mostly, I am posting this because it was hilarious, and I don’t want to forget that my child ever envisioned the afterlife as a place full of happy dog families arranging playdates, or that the younger one can speak to dogs in their own language.

It’s also a good example of how I talk to my kids about death, though. I don’t feel anxious about discussing death with her, I let her drive the conversation and I support her explorations of the idea. Doggy playdates? Sure! Happy families? of course! Sounds as plausible as any other theory of what happens when we die.