Tonight Deaglan was gaining major momentum on the swing in our backyard. I put my foot down a few weeks ago and refused to push him every single time; I reminded him that he knew how to do it himself. Frankly, it was cutting into my Facebook time.
I mean wasn’t it enough that I was out there “watching” him and his brother play?
So there we were, Deaglan swinging, Naveen climbing, and me browsing when out of the blue Deaglan asks if he will go to Heaven when he dies. It doesn’t faze me though - it’s a carryover conversation from last week when I thought the cat wasn’t coming home from his two day stint at the vet. At the time I felt compelled to prep Deaglan for the worst, explain that Crash might die. But the cat ended up pulling through – turns out he had an abscess in his mouth where he’d lost a tooth. The vet rehydrated him, pumped him full of antibiotics and for 600 bucks sent him on his way with a prescription for morphine, more antibiotics and pricey canned food.
So when Deaglan asked me tonight if he’d go to Heaven after he died, I looked up from the Blackberry tablet and answered without skipping a beat:
“But how will I get there?”
“What about my skin, will my skin go to Heaven?”
“No, your body won’t go, that’s the part that gets buried, remember?” He’s flying on that swing now. I notice he really needs a haircut.
“UNDER the ground? Even my feet?” His face is fascination and worry.
“Listen,” I say, “when you die, your body stops working. You don’t walk or talk anymore. You don’t need to eat; you don’t have to go to school.”
“But Mommy, I don’t want to die. What about my PARENTS? I don’t want to leave my PARENTS!”
“You won’t die for a long, long time and besides Mommy and Daddy will die way before you.” Lord help me.
Sharp intake of breath and furrowed brows but still soaring. “YOU'RE going to die?”
“No, no, not for a long, long time. Please, you don’t have to worry honey, just keep swinging.”
Naveen is now tired of going head first down the slide and is swinging from a wooden beam on the playscape. Shaune’s right, this kid’s gonna keep us on the edge of our seats, show up with a motorcycle when he’s fourteen.
I don’t know what else to say about dying.
I know his four year old mind is trying to sort out the logistics, but I never had a plan for this conversation except that I like the idea of Heaven. I like the idea of God. I really like the idea of this not being all there is.
Once in a while he mentions Uncle Matt, reminds me that my brother died and is in Heaven. I’m always oddly grateful. It’s nice not to be the one to have to bring him up, to share a memory out loud even if it’s with a four year old who barely knew him.
I interrupt our talk so I can devise ways to lure Naveen down. It’s enough, all this talk of dying. Thank goodness Deaglan thinks so too.