Tonight as she was getting ready for bed, Lucy asked me about my t-shirt. It says “New York” on it and she asked if that is where the Madagascar guys lived. I told her that it was, but it was also the place where her great grandparents used to live. She asked me if they still lived there and I told her they didn’t. She asks, “Did they die?” and I replied that, yes, they had both died some years ago. We talked about missing them and then she says, “Will that happen to me?” Death. What a hard question to have to answer from your four-year-old. “Yes,” I told her, “but I hope you will live many, many, many years. Maybe even 100.” Her eyes got big considering this, and then she said to me, “yeah, but when someone dies, you worry about YOU and not them anymore.” And I asked her what she meant. “People in heaven are looking for energy…” she answered, and then turned over and told me she was going to sleep to get energy for dancing tomorrow.
A little boy who was a former student of my preschool is currently undergoing treatment for leukemia at a nearby children’s hospital. Today the children in our preschool classes took pictures with big posters that said, “We love you!” and other inspirational messages that will be sent to the child. Because I know him and because he isn't much older than my own children, I think often about what his parents must be going through. I wonder how his mother would have answered Lucy’s question.
I try to do well by my children by being honest to them and not making up stuff that isn’t true just to sugarcoat an ugly subject. Lucy has started asking some hard questions, ones that I don’t really know how to begin to answer all of the time. I just think it’s a good lesson for me that I’m sure I learned more from my daughter in that conversation tonight than she learned from me. I’m also sure she has plenty of angels up there looking out for her who appreciate her energy.