Heaven. What do we really know about heaven? Not much. Not anything concrete at all since no one comes back to tell us about it. I imagine it is a peaceful place. I picture is as sunny and beautiful. I hope that is a a place of love and without any discord. Without any pain, hunger or suffering. But really this is all just one big optimistic hope, right?
Well, a 5 year old doesn’t grasp the abstract quite yet. And she needs to know in concrete terms what heaven is like. At least my 5 years old since, unfortunately, she has had to deal with death at much, too much an early age.
Soso asked me last week when we could visit heaven again. I had to pause for a second. “What do you mean by heaven?” She replies, “Oh the place where Grandma is where we go visit her where she is behind a wall?” I guess all our talk of Grandma being in heaven and us visiting her cemetery has confused her.
I tried the usual platitude about how when we die, our bodies stay here but our souls go up to heaven. Yeah, I’m sure you can imagine how well that went down. “But don’t we need our bodies? We don’t have legs? How do we eat?” Imagine also a truly disturbed expression on her face.
I was successful in re-directing her interest.
Not that this was the first time that she’s asked. She started asking right around when she turned 4. At first, it was just easy questions like where is Grandma? Up in heaven. Can we go visit? No. Can she come back? No. OK.
But now the questions are getting harder. A couple of days ago, she asked her Daddy, “Can we eat in heaven? Do we have friends? Do we have to take baths? Can we have toys?” On and on and on. I’m so glad that it was his turn to put her down. I don’ t know how I would have answered all her questions. I probably would have said a lot of “I don’t know honey. I don’t have an answer for you.”
Sometimes it is almost comical. Except not really because you know it kind of breaks my heart that I’m even asked these questions. Who knows may be other 5 year olds are also curious about death, dying and heaven even without a personal loss. But I’ll bet mine wouldn’t have been if her Grandma was still around.
And in trying to answer these questions, I find that I feel a bit like a hypocrite. I mean I’m answering questions about things and places that I really don’t have knowledge about. And I find that I’m still a bit bitter about it all. I wonder how D feels considering she was his mother. But he’s a better person than I and probably feels the sadness without the bitterness.