In the world of parenting kids ask some intriguing questions, Mr.T does just that. My 30 year old 4 year old has some not so easy to answer questions about the inevitable, death that is. When I hear him ask me about death and why people die, I question my own fears and understanding. It’s a difficult thing to process as an adult, a topic and reality so few of us are actually comfortable talking about, especially when it comes to our own mortality. It is the second thing that we all have in common, the first being life. We all have our own unique way of looking at death and our own spirituality to accompany the thought of after-life.
When Mr.T so innocently and with deep concern ask me, “Will you die mummy?” I never want to say yes, I never want to say no and I never want to answer him. But, given the nature of my gifted son, my silence will not suffice, so I pause and think about my round about answer to his response. I don’t want to put fear into his heart and mind and I don’t want a morbid pre-schooler either-but I always want him to have a mild version of reality-for now.
I say, “Sweetheart, we will all die someday but you don’t need to worry about that now, ok?” His concern or perhaps it’s curiosity pushes him to say, “But,when?”
My child if only I had all the answers. I say, “In a long, long, long time.” A long time for a child is a few hours in some cases so I tell him it can be when we are very very old. I hope this satisfies his need for answers for now. In the meantime he has tweaked something inside me.
Fear? Worry? I’m not sure, but maybe it’s a melancholy feeling that yes, I will someday bid farewell to those I love and cherish the most in this world.I question and fear the inevitable, just as he does. He asks me what its like to die, if it hurts and where our bodies go. My heart aches as I want him to forget about this and have sweet sweet dreams-but he is persistent. I tell him I don’t know what it’s like to die and that I don’t know if it hurts, but that when we die our bodies become part of our beautiful earth and that our souls go to heaven. He is partially satisfied with this answer and looks relieved but still asks where and what heaven is. I tell him what I believe and what I imagine heaven to be like-he likes this and asks if that’s where our cat Destiny went. I tell him yes and he is happy to know that we will all be together there one day, in a very very long time.
I sign and tousle his hair, kiss his forehead and whisper goodnight.
I hope that one day in a long long long time from now I can be comfortable with my circle of life, for now I’m at the half way point, somewhere between figured some out and learning about the rest, enough to teach my children about love, life, happiness and living our lives to our fullest potential without so many regrets.