For those who struggle to read about parents dying far too young and leaving behind their children (of which I assume is 99.9% of us), this isn't that kind of post. More about my son's ongoing interest in when I might head off and what death is all about.
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A couple of weeks ago, I overheard the following conversation between my six-year-old son Barney and his father
Daddy - "I'm going to go first and get everything ready for you"
Barney - "Where will you be waiting?"
Daddy - "At the gates"
Barney - "How will I get there? Will the fairies a bring me?"
Daddy - "Yes. Mummy, Daddy, Nonna and all your toys will be there and we'll all be together again, forever"
Barney - "Can I bring my bugs from the garden?"
It went on.
The packing list that Barney wanted to ensure joined him, in heaven. I sat quietly, listening and sobbing but smiling at the beauty and the innocence of it all and green with envy, that he didn't associate death with sadness. Quite yet.
"How long until you die Mumma?" Was a question I woke up to the other morning. Literally, woke up to. It was 6am.
I am absolutely useless with death conversations. They instantly make me well-up, my nose starts to tingle (a weird thing that happens to me when I get emotional) and my bottom lip starts to quiver. Seeing my immediate sadness, my son quickly followed it up with, "Don't be sad Mumma".
He doesn't know, or understand, why I would be emotional but he acknowledged that it was a conversation I wasn't 'happy' with. I know I have to man up and tackle these topics at some point without sobbing but for now, throw me a maths question I can consult Google for an answer to!
I lost a friend last year. A mentor who has been a big part of my career for the last 15 years. Barney was there when I took the call in the kitchen and watched, as tears began to roll down my cheeks. I wasn't wailing or hysterically crying, I was silent, listening to how he had passed. It is unbelievably sweet how they turn into your protector, even at the age of then 5. He was immediately at my leg, holding it tight. I explained to him that, Mummy's friend had died. He asked a load of questions, "Is he flying up to heaven now?", will i call him to "say goodbye?".
Most recently, I got asked, "what number will you die at Mummy?" Cue tingly nose, he went to answer his own question, 'Maybe 58?"
Me: "Jesus! I hope not. That's very young!"
By this point, he had stopped listening and was looking at me with a forlorn look on his face. He then, in a very dramatic fashion, stroked my cheek and said, "I'll never forget you Mummy".
Well, you can imagine how that set me off. A combination of imagining my own death and knowing that he had essentially written me off already!
"Are there nits in heaven?"
That was another pressing question I recently recieved.
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I am writing this all down. Maybe because it's therapeutic, maybe to remind myself how bloody precious life is, maybe because I want to stop welling up whenever I think about death, or maybe just simply, because I don't know what you say and you guys might have pearls of wisdom?
Maybe, because I want you lot to tell me you feel exactly the bloody same. Death is hard enough to talk about, deal with, think about and accept at the best of times but when you become a parent it’s another thing that just goes up a bloody notch. Barney is aware that his that beloved Bis-Nonna, my amazing Grandmother, is 87 and therefore, as she herself would say is edging ever closer to heaven. Not helped by her declaration every Christmas that is 'most definitely her last one'! She has been saying that for 10 years now.
Nan, if you are reading this, I am not writing you off! Far from it! Barney is on hand to keep you young! :)
Ok, that concludes my ramblings on this subject. I’m going to take a leaf out of six-year-old Barney’s book and focus on the positives of it all and what will be waiting for me 'up there'. To be honest, I had better. If his estimation is anything to go by, I haven’t got all that long left!
Well, we've all gotta go one day eh! (I'm off to sob into my vat of wine!)