Friday, December 18, 2009

Auntie Ellen

There are subjects we avoid with our kids. It's our attempt to protect and nurture them in the so swiftly dissolving bubble of childhood. Sometimes, however, it's necessary to talk about one of those in a way that builds resiliency and strength. Death is one of those subjects.

When the legs and body exploded apart from the hermit crab, it was tragic, it was a death, but it wasn't really-real. It was a crustacean. (Or a reptile?)

When the Beta fish (of whom the pet store said were 'indestructible') began to spawn a disease akin to radiation burns and he, well, melted. It wasn't a death.

Aunt Ellen's passing to Heaven is a death. It's a death to someone we love. It's the end of an era when parents stayed married, grandmothers baked and family actually spent time together.

I told my six year old that Daddy and my heart was heavy. We were sad because Auntie Ellen went to be with Jesus in Heaven. I explained she had been very sick and she had lived a very long time. He asked me how old she was. I told him. Then he asked how old each of his grandparents were. It took until the third grandparent age request until I realized he was 'checking in' on when they too would go to Heaven.

My mother in law had a kidney/pancreas transplant 7 years ago. It saved her life. It may take her life. It's a paradox bearable under the incredible joy she brings to all our lives. At times like these, when death is a palpable visitor, we worry a little and hug a lot.

I assured him, with a lump in my throat, that we would have lots of time with each grandparent. We will. To him, any time is lots of time. To me, today, it's never enough.

He paused. I waited. Here's how the rest of the conversation went,

"Oh that's why the sun is so brighter today!"

"What do you mean sweetie?"

"'Cuz Jesus is so happy Auntie Ellen is with him today!"

My bubble of maternal explaining super powers burst and I began to cry.

The sun is so brighter. Auntie Ellen, we'll see you when we see you in the brightest place of all.

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