Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Heaven is Daddy - and rainbow sherbet

It was bath time for X.

He practically leapt into the tub he was so excited. He has these two ducks that light up in the water, see, and he can hold one in each hand and then even CHEW on them. It really doesn't get much better for an 11 month-old, does it?

So he's in there, and Sawyer and Sage decide they want to watch. The four of us are in the tiny bathroom, X happily splashing, Sage making faces at herself in the mirror, and Sawyer perched on the edge of the tub.

And then Sawyer asks, "How many days til Daddy dies?"

Did you also hear the EEERRRRR sound of a record being scratched or was that just me? (Then again, does anyone besides me even remember records?) 

"Well," I tell him, "Not for a very very long time, when he's very old."

"Like, 20, or something?"

"Older than that. Much older."

"What about heaven, Mommy?"

"That's a place where you go when you die. You get to be with people who have died before you."

"Is Michael Jackson in heaven?"

"I suppose he is, Sawyer. I suppose he is."

"And Grandpa."

"Yes. Grandpa, too."

When I came downstairs after putting X to bed I saw Sawyer and Sage sitting silently next to each other on the couch. I figured they REALLY wanted ice cream, because they know they have to be quiet while X is getting ready for sleep and usually they are, well, not.

Then Sage said Sawyer was crying.

"I'm sad because I'm going to miss Daddy when he dies," he said through his tears.

I ran over, sat on the couch and pulled Sawyer into my arms and just held him.  Because, really, is there any thought more scary when you're six and you think about losing your best friend? I didn't tell him that we never know when we're going to die, that the thought of one of my children dying before me is like a sucker-punch to the stomach.

"Who's going to take care of me?"

So I told him Daddy isn't going to die for a long, long time. And by then, Sawyer would be a grown-up and have a family of his own, just like Mommy and Daddy do now. He should just have fun and enjoy all his time with Daddy. I said he shouldn't worry.

There were more sniffles. Then, quietly, with tears still straining his voice, Sawyer said into my neck:  "Mommy? I think if I had a little dessert I'd feel better."

And what do you know. Rainbow sherbet on a cone made my little boy smile.


kirsten said...

oh my. this is when I feel my limitations as a mom most keenly, and yet seem to come up with answers that satisfy. WHAT DO YOU SAY?!?!

it is heartbreaking, the prospect of loss, and therefore why we have to live every minute pretending it'll never happen.

Cheryl said...

Yes, and we wonder how much to tell them. Because it's so scary - even for us!

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