Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Heaven has a new angel: Explaining Heaven to a toddler

Unfortunately another one of my spirited relatives has made their way to the other side. My Uncle passed away one month to the last day I spent with him fishing... one of his favorite things to do. This is my Dad's second and last younger brother who has gone ahead of him to the flip side... in less than 15 months... just not how it's supposed to be.

Hunting in Kansas
I have so many fond memories of growing up with my Uncle, we were a very close family, in fact we lived next door to one another for several years. Since my cousin and I were only 2 weeks apart we had one heck of a time giving our Dad's hell growing up :) I can remember shooting pop cans in the backyard with my Uncle and Dad taking down pigeons every other shot. There were many nights that we were allowed to drive in his lap... all the while jamming to country music which I hated at the time. Pool days while my cousin and I did back dives into the community pool and volleyball and summer parties at the clubhouse. Hunting trips were always a blast, in fact, the last hunting trip we took would be the last time I got to hang out with my Uncle (who passed away last May from cancer), my Dad, and my Uncle (that passed away last week). There are no words to describe when you get our family clan together... no words, people just stare ha! And of course memories of fishing, my how he loved fishing. I would always tease him that I couldn't believe he could actually catch fish at Chatfield... and so finally after all of these years we made a trip out so that he could teach me and my husband where to go and what to use to actually catch a fish at the lake. My Dad, the Dude, hubbs, and I all watched as he set up our fishing pole rigs. That was the last time I saw him... at least it was another great memory.

And so he waits for us all in heaven...

Not only is it a tragedy for our family but due to the circumstances it is a sickening reminder of days to come. I went with my Dad to my Aunt's side to see if there was anything we could help with in getting all of the final arrangements in order. There are just soooooo many things to do and no one has the slightest clue what is involved until after the fact. My Dad just kept repeating that not only did he want to help because that is what families do, that is what he promised my Uncle many years ago that he would do but he also needed to be there to educate himself on what will be involved in taking care of his own final arrangements. To finally put some things down on paper and share his wishes with all of us for when the time comes.

Let me assure you this is a nauseating conversation.

No one wants to talk about death certificates, crematoriums, last rights, wakes, urns, a burial outfit, etc... It's just not fair that you have to deal with losing someone you love and also get thrown into the nightmare involved with getting the final arrangements in order. But I suppose these things serve to distract us for a short while. Death never gets easier... no matter how many people you lose...and adding children to the mix makes it even tougher, because they do not understand.

Heaven is a strange concept. One of the hardest things I'm finding to do is teach my 2 year old son about heaven. You know... you just shouldn't have to do that... there should be many many years before he should ever have to know what heaven is. We have briefly talked about it before when our prized mother hen Blanche passed. All he knew was that Blanche went away and there wasn't a whole lot beyond that. I told him that we'd see her again someday and he pretty much left it alone, there weren't any questions. But this time there were, and I really had no idea what to tell him... I told the Dude that we were going to fall asleep and go visit my Uncle in our dreams to give him a big hug and tell him how much we loved him. I said that he had gone to Heaven.

"what? why?"

I said that he was very very sick and that there wasn't any medicine that they could give him. I didn't know how to explain this to him without making him afraid that every time he got sick he would end up in heaven... it was a fine line... luckily I think he is mature enough that he pretty much understood what I was saying.

Some might wonder why I would even attempt to explain heaven to him at this point... well... unfortunately I want to prepare him for when Grampa is no longer around... Again something you just shouldn't have to do. Ever.

We continued to talk and I made sure to emphasize how wonderful heaven was. I said that everything in heaven was beautiful and happy and there was icecream and cookies and fun. I told him that no one was sick in heaven and that it was going to be so wonderful for my Uncle to be there and to feel great again.

"But they can't do that!"
"Can't do what hun?"
"Heaven can't take him."

He was clearly puzzled at the whole idea and I just kept doing my best to answer his questions and give him as much age appropriate info as I could between the tears. I told him that even though we aren't really able to see people in heaven we can still talk to them and they can still hear us. I told him that they are always near us and that we can visit them in our dreams any time we want to.

I had no idea if it was sinking in.. I had no idea what I was even telling him, there surely is no instruction manual for preparing a 2 year old for death... But right before I gave him a hug to go to sleep he looked at me and smiled and began to ramble "Uncle go to heaven, and Blanche, and it's so nice, and they have ice cream, and we hug him, and LOVE YOU!, and sleep in our dreams, and and and and and... he continued to smirk and burried into his pillows.

So I smiled back. He got it.

"That's right Dude... it's a wonderful thing... and we're going to go and tell him we love him tonight"
"Ok momma!"



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