Wow. I just had the most unexpected (and emotional, sad, uplifting and endearing) conversation with G.
G’s latest obsession is geography. We can play “Destination USA” (his new favorite boardgame) for HOURS. He would absolutely bring his Earth Globe to school if it would fit in his backpack. Stack the States (iPad app) will hold his attention for endless amounts of time.
So, we’re getting ready for bed tonight, and he takes his Earth globe down from it’s perch. He’s looking for something. Maybe a place he read about? A hometown of a character on TV?
G: Mom, where is Paradise?
Me: (Thinking I heard him wrong) Paradise? Where did you hear about paradise?
G: (Ignoring the question) Mom, where is it? Where is Paradise?
Me: (I guess he’s asking what I think he’s asking… so I might as well just dive in). Paradise is Heaven. You won’t find it on your Earth Globe.
G: Where is it?
What happened next was a full blown, thirty minute discussion of dying, death, and the afterlife (as I understand it). I explained (multiple times) that God did not make our bodies to live until infinity years old (which is the way G would have it if he could be God). God made our bodies to live for a long time, but at some point, our bodies stop working and we are dead. Our eyes don’t see, our ears don’t hear and our noses don’t smell. When that happens, our bodies get buried in the ground in a cemetary. Even though our bodies are in the ground, our souls float up to paradise and they stay up there forever. Humans can’t see souls when they are in paradise, not even when you are in an airplane flying through the clousds. Not even if you look closely. But if you listen to your heart, you can feel the soul of the person you love who has died.
G: Do you know someone who is dead?
Me: Yes, my dad is dead. He died twelve years ago and I miss him a lot. His name was Steven.
G: Did I know Steven?
Me: No, he died before you were born. But he was your grandpa, and I know he would love you A LOT if he was still a human on Earth.
G: How did he die?
Me: He got a sickness called cancer. Sometimes when people get the cancer sickness, their bodies get healthy again, and they keep living a long time. When my dad got the cancer sickness, he lived for a little while, but now he is dead.
G: Will you ever see him again?
Me: I won’t see him again as long as I’m a human and I’m alive. But when I’m dead, the first thing my soul is going to do is float up to heaven, and find find my dad’s soul, and give it a big hug.
G: Me too. I’m going to find Steven’s soul and give it a big hug too.
G has been thinking about life and death for a few weeks now. I’m not sure what triggered it. Possibly that in his kindergarten class they planted bulbs and nurtured them into full-blown flowers. G took the whole experience to heart, but was disappointed to learn that the flower won’t live forever. I’m glad he was able to ask me the questions that were on his mind. I’m grateful that, in the immediacy of the moment, I was able to come up with words that were meaningful to his very literal mind. When a topic of interest takes root in G’s brain, it generates a lot of repetition… so I know we’ll be talking about this a lot in the days and weeks to come. This conversation gave me a beautiful glimpse into the truly empathic recesses of G’s soul (if I was God, I would let everyone live until infinity years old). And finally, I’m delighted that the first thing G is going to do in Heaven is seek out my dad’s soul to give it a big hug.