A few years ago my grandmother “Gammy” passed away. Thinking about her also leads me to think about one of my not-so-shining moments in parenthood. You see, her death was the first death that my children would experience. Her funeral would be the first funeral they had ever attended. Now Meeny was just 1 so I wasn’t worried about him at all but Eeny was 3 and I felt the need to explain things to her. The funeral would be open casket and I didn’t want her to be frightened or confused.
The night before the funeral as I was putting Eeny to bed I pulled her close to me and began explaining.
“Baby, you remember Gammy right?”
“Well, Gammy died and went to Heaven to live with Jesus and tomorrow we are going to her funeral. A funeral is a celebration of life.”
“Will Gammy be there?”
“Well, her body will be there.”
“How her body be there? You said she went to Kevin with Jesus…”
“Right. You see her body is just a shell and now it’s empty. Her soul went to Heaven.”
She thinks for a minute and then asks “Mommy, what’s a soul?”
At this point I can feel myself losing control of the conversation but I feel I owe it to her to try and continue. I struggle to put into words a 3 year old will explain what a soul is….
“Well, it’s your heart and your mind,” was about all I could come up with.
She thinks for another minute and then her face contorts and she lets out a wail.
“WHEN YOU DIE AND GO TO KEVIN YOUR HEART COMES OUT AND YOUR FACE FALLS OFF??????????”
Oh dear God….what have I done.
“Nooooo baby. No no no! Your spirit goes up to……” and at this point I decided to abandon the conversation entirely. “What did you have for lunch today sweetie?” I asked hoping to derail her from the trauma I had inflicted.
Thankfully, the distraction worked and she began telling me about the ski-daddy [spaghetti] they had for lunch. I finally got her down to sleep and as I crept down the stairs I was still reeling from the strange turn the conversation had taken but I was fairly confident that I hadn’t done any permanent damage.
As I reached the last stair hubby stepped out of the kitchen a look of disbelief on his face and the baby monitor in his hand.
“Well, I think that went well,” he said. “Tomorrow I think we should tell her hamburgers are made from real cows and donuts are made from the tears of unicorns.”
I think I will wait until Meeny is 16 before I try to explain life and death to him.