Aside from a headache, a nervous twitch, significant grief and the willies, the one thing Amelie has given me over the past year is an appreciation of fine art. Mostly her own. She spends a great deal of her time drawing, and in the past twelve months, she's improved to such an extent that most of the time I can actually tell what her pictures are. Although anyone who saw the flamingo she drew yesterday might want to question that statement.
Unfortunately, her artwork is now becoming so complex that although I can recognise individual aspects of the drawing, the picture as a whole requires a certain amount of explanation and interpretation. Take this charming little scene for example...
Now, you might think that's a lovely drawing of me juggling an ice cream while Lisa picks some flowers and Amelie has a nice lie-down. But apparently not. I've spoken at length to the artist, and she informs that me that it's actually...
... a picture of death. No, really. Apparently the girl in the middle has died, and the woman on the right is laying flowers on her grave. I'm not sure if the bloke on the left is playing table tennis, preparing a death mask, or about to bludgeon the girl with a club, but whatever the true meaning, it's clearly a picture I'll be able to discuss with Am's therapist in a few year's time.
Interestingly, you'll notice that the bereaved family don't seem unduly grief-stricken by the death of their loved one, while the girl has clearly found a level of peace which borders on ecstacy. And the reason for that happiness is shown in Amelie's follow-up drawing...
That's the dead girl in heaven with Jesus. Who appears to have lost all his hair, but is sporting a very fetching goatee. And they're on a cloud, not a giant blancmange.
So one term at a faith school has already changed Amelie's outlook on life. Or, more specifically, death. Apparently it's not something to be feared, but can be quite a joyful experience. Which is probably what motivates most serial killers.
Anyhoo, having talked me through that set of powerful religious imagery, Amelie then asked me this question:
"Daddy, do people know when they're going to die?"
I explained that no, in general, people don't know the exact date of their own death, although they might feel a certain sense of doom if they're about to board a plane with my sister. Amelie considered that information carefully, then added:
"Well, if you like, you can take that picture into work with you. Then, if any of your colleagues know they're going to die tomorrow, you can show it to them, and it will make them feel much better."
I'm not sure if that's charming, heart-breaking or just downright disturbing. But I'll send out an e-mail in the morning just on the off chance.