Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where is your Mama?

This conversation begins again. Lizzie knows my Mama is in heaven. That she died when Lizzie was still too young to walk. But she asks again anyways.

"She's in heaven." I say as she crawls into my lap.

"Does she live there? Can we go visit?" she asks earnestly. This is the first time she's asked these questions. I suspect that the Summer Camp focus on "places" has made Heaven seem like a Place for her just like Colorado or Alaska.

"No honey, we can't go visit. Heaven is where people go when they die." I begin to rock in the rocking chair.

She looks at me. Her mouth frowns downward and her eyes get wide. Wide and scared.

"Not everyone dies though, right? Just your Mama?"

I sigh. This has been coming I suppose, a true understanding of death for a 5 year old. Kylie was much, much older when Julie died. She was 9 and a half. And her understanding, even for 9, was greater since we knew it was coming and had time to prepare her.

"Everyone dies sweetie. All Mommas and Daddies and people die. Animals die, plants die, everything dies and goes to be with God in Heaven. Our bodies stay here but our spirits," I touch her chest near her heart, "they go to be with God."

"NOOOOOOOO! You can't die. Never ever! I don't want you to die!"

"Oh honey, I'm not going to die for a very long time." Internally I frown at my implied promise. I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and die. Then I would be a liar and dead to my daughter.

"Was Grandma old when she died?"

"Well yes, she was pretty old." More lies.

"As old as Grandma? As old as Granny?" She's talking about Leslie and Jenny. What do I say? Leslie turned 52 this year, the age my mother would have been. Jenny turned 80, an age my mother never even approached.

"Older than Grandma, not as old as Granny. People die at different times though sweetie. When God is ready he brings us to heaven. There isn't a set age when we die, we die when God says it's time."

"Well then I hate God!"

Mayday! Mayday! This is NOT going well! "Honey, you can't hate God. He's doing what is best for us. He lets us live here for awhile and then, because he knows best, he brings us back to Him."

"We live there? In Heaven?"

"Yes honey. We have our own houses. Grandma has a condo I think. It has a very little trashcan."

She laughs. "Will we get to live with her?"

"Well, I think I would want my own house, don't you? But I bet we can live next door to her. Maybe we can get a bigger trash can."

She laughs again and then her face falls. The trash can talk didn't work.

"But I don't want you to die!"

"I wont honey. I'll be very, very, very old by the time I die. You'll be a Mommy of your own and you'll be married and you'll probably even be a Grandma."

"But what if I need you?" She wails this last part and clings to me. I suddenly become aware that my rocking chair is rocking VERY fast and she almost needs to hang on to me to keep from flying off.

"When I die you wont need me anymore. God makes sure of that." I practically choke on my words because they are so wrong and a lie. I still need my mommy. Uh oh, Lizzie saw my frown.

"I'll always need you." She hugs me and I smooth her hair on the back of her head.

I don't know what else to say.

"I love you sweetheart. "

"I'll miss you. Too much."

"I'll miss you too. But it's a long ways away and it wont be for long, I promise. We'll be together in heaven before you know it."

"Will Micah be there too?"

"Yes. Everyone will be."

"Will he make cheeseburgers?"

"I bet he will."


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