A very simple question, with so much meaning now.
'How many kids do you have?', 'Do you have kids?', etc...It's a standard part of any conversation between parents. And one that's easy to answer when all of your kids are alive.
For me, the question has changed forever. Because you have to answer it differently, depending on who is asking, and the situation. And because I'm in a new job, and meet lots of new people every day, the question comes up a lot.
Most of the time, I answer it truthfully: "I have two kids, one who died in 2009, and one who is 7." (or something like that). I don't hide the truth from people because Samuel is someone I don't want to hide from people. Why should I leave him out of conversations because he's not here any more? He was here for 13 years, and made a big impact on my life. I'm not going to ignore that.
But of course, answering the question that way usually means that I have to explain: how he died, how old he was, how Oli is doing, etc. Which I don't mind doing either.
But it's not always appropriate. Sometimes it's people I'll never meet again, sometimes it's part of a bigger conversation and there's no time for explanations. What do you do then?
Usually, I say "two boys" and leave it at that. I have even once or twice said "one son", but I didn't like the way that felt. Because I have two sons.
It's funny that a simple question requires so much thinking.