Sometimes it’s hard to focus on how lucky we are. I look at my beautiful, healthy children and realize I’m so fortunate. But sometimes, just sometimes, well, let’s just say some days are better than others. And sometimes, when you least expect it, parenting challenges like a small child puking in the middle of your bed at midnight (then once an hour all night long) take you for a spin.
Speaking of challenges, this past weekend, out of nowhere and from across the room, Zoe asked:
- Mommy, are you going to die and go to heaven?
- (pause for mental preparation) Well, I hope so, but not anytime soon!
- But if you die and go to heaven, I will miss you so much (insert instant and loud sobbing). I don’t want you to die and go to heaven!
- I’m not going anywhere for a long, long time, sweetie. (it’s true, as far as I know.)
- When people get old, do they die and go to heaven?
- Yes they do. But I’m not THAT old – even if I look pretty old sometimes (I scrunch up my face and she giggles).
- When do we go to heaven?
- Well, we don’t really know, so we have to enjoy the time we have together and focus on that. (good advice)
- If I die and go to heaven, will my toys stay here?
- Yes, your toys stay here. (this is also true, as far as I know.)
- But if I die and go to heaven I won’t have any toys to play with at all! (insert sobbing)
- You’re not going to die and go to heaven any time soon – you’re only 4 years old! (please say this is true.) Besides, I hear heaven is a lovely place, so there must be great toys there, too.
Turns out one of her teachers at school mentioned that HER parents had died and gone to heaven. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversation (oh, and a “heads up: this topic might come up at home” would have been nice).
In a way, it’s odd that this has never come up, given that 99% of Disney movies (heck, most kids movies!) involve losing a parent, becoming an orphan or dealing with evil step families… I remember how traumatized I was when I first saw the Lion King. Seriously, did Mufasa HAVE to die just so a baby Simba could grow up and lead??? I think not.
Anyway, I also don’t have the heart to tell her I’m not sure there’s a heaven – that nobody knows for sure. And that I worry about her death way more often than I’d like to admit – that one of my greatest fears is losing my children before they get a chance to grow old, of dying without getting a chance to send them to prom or (if we old parents are lucky) watch them walk down the aisle at graduation – or have beautiful children of their own.
But for now, I guess I’ll just have to take my own advice: Enjoy the time we have together and focus on that ;)