Tell me all your thoughts on God?
So tell me am I very far?
"is it true?"
the intensity with which the boy asks me this question, the burning need to know, to be reassured, causes my throat to tie itself into a knot, making my eyesockets burn.
the evening was any other sunday evening. the kids need baths before they go to bed, in preparation for another week of school. as they climb into the tub, the younger one asks what has happened to all the bath toys.
"we threw them out, buddy. they were old, they were yucky. you didn't play with them anymore."
as my youngest insists that he liked them, the oldest is quiet, turned away. behind me, my wife says, "oh, buddy, what's wrong?"
and my oldest turns, his big brown eyes filled with tears. "you could've at least talked to us about it! you shouldn't've just thrown them away!"
i'm taken aback. i couldn't possibly have expected this reaction. as i get them in the tub and help them with the soap, my oldest goes on to say: "it's not just the toys, i am upset with life! i am mad at life cause we get old and then we die."
and oh, the conversations you never want to have with your children. the things you never want to hear, the things you never want to say.
i say, "oh buddy, yes that is true, everything gets old, everything dies. it's not the dying, it's all the living we do before then. we get all this time together that we should enjoy."
the tears are coursing down his cheeks now, and it is clear this is something that has been eating at him. he has been asking me about the soul recently. about heaven. and because i want him to go with his own ideas of the soul and heaven, to follow his heart, i am loath to offer too many details. "i want us to be together all the time."
"we'll all be together again in heaven, and then we will have all the time we want."
"is it true?"
suddenly, i am not sure i am one to the task of helping my son deal with his angst towards death and his insecurities as to heaven and where he goes. i feel tiny. i feel insignificant. i feel if i do too much talking, i will burst into tears and he will misread my emotions as a disbelief in what i am telling him.
but i know there is a heaven. i know we go there. i know there is a god that loves us and wants the best for us, and i have talked with him many a time. how do i know all this? well, i have just known, without any reason, ever since i was a little--
"what does your heart say? do you know there is a heaven where we will all be together again?"
he nods, still staring into my eyes with an earnestness borne of needing a confirmation that what he already feels to be true really is.
he wants to see grandpa lloyd again. he misses him still, though it has been several years. he isn't ready for grammy or nana and boppa or mom or myself to go yet. he wishes his soul would let him go to heaven for a visit, so he can see grandpa lloyd, so he can see what heaven is like. he is still crying when i put him to bed, and i am too as i reassure him that grandpa lloyd is fine and probably gets to see how we are doing. he confuses the death of my own father with the death of grandpa lloyd and inadvertently reopens a wound i thought had healed completely; a wound that i thought had ceased being a source of pain. i reassure him that we will all be together in heaven when the time comes, and that it is more important right now to enjoy the moments we have together here.
he is asleep almost as soon as his head hits the pillow.
i can't even relay the conversation back to my wife without choking up and lamely spitting out unfinished sentence fragments. in her typical sarcastic pragmatism, she asks me, "what the hell is wrong with you guys?" and causes me to laugh.
but i mull this over in my head the rest of the night. these are similar conversations i have had with myself. i was afraid to talk to anyone about my own fears and confusions towards life and death and heaven and god. and now my oldest is going through a similar phase.
and while i ultimately feel like my efforts to reassure him are lame attempts and sputtered trite answers, he has felt confident enough in our relationship to open up to me, to share his concerns. our relationship is such that he feels comfortable coming to me to discuss the greater things of life and death and the universe.
and for that, i am forever grateful.