A few weeks ago, I was mindlessly watching something on TV…the name escapes me now but it was much like CSI. In the end, some crazy guy shot and killed a teenage girl’s parents and little brother in front of her. At the time, I didn’t realize that my 5-year old daughter and her 11-year old brother were watching as well.
You see, they had been playing cards so I know they weren’t really paying attention. However, as the story unfolded, they turned their attention toward the TV. My daughter asked why the man did that and I heard something else in the sound of her voice, which I didn’t like. I told her that he was just a naughty and bad man. She tried to process it and started crying…it tugged at my heart. I called her over to me and immediately felt stupid for letting her see it (I was too engrossed).
“What if some bad man comes here and shoots you!?” She asked sobbing…I comforted her as best I could and told her that it was just a story and wasn’t real but nothing I said would get through to her. The damage had been done. I can’t take that back and yet, I know that’s life…death that is, it’s a big part of life.
In time, she got over it but she’s been very concerned about me dying, on more than one occasion. She’ll say things like “I don’t want you to die” or “I wish we could stay together forever“. The thought of it leaves me feeling a bit helpless. The thought of dying and leaving her behind, that is.
I’ve always been one to say that death doesn’t scare me. If it is God’s will that I am taken, then so be it…I accept that. However, ever since my daughter was born, I feel powerless to the guilt of leaving her motherless through death. I know I could be a better mother to her on so many levels but the unconditional love this child shows toward me… let’s just say it leaves me speechless. She teaches me so many lessons on a daily basis.
We love as hard as we fight and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way…(well, maybe sometimes). She’s a highly spirited child, opinionated and stubborn as hell, some of that I know she gets from me. She’ll be a strong woman one day, no doubt.
The question remains though, how do I explain to her that I will not live forever..? If there were a button I could press to make death disappear from Life’s equation, I would do so in an instant…just for her.
If only I could live forever and protect her little heart from any anguish or pain my inevitable death would cause her…I would. Obviously, I don’t want my daughter to feel any kind of pain or heartache that comes with life lessons of death or disappointment…but I can’t.
Negotiating a date and time would also be great just so I can prepare her closer to the time. But I know that is a luxury afforded to no-one.
Think about it…I’m sure no (majority of) parent talks about dying with their kids…at least not at the age of 5. Honestly speaking, it’s not a pleasant thing to face or think about. How can you possibly tell a loved one that the void they will feel at the loss of you…will be OK? Most of us have been touched by death in some way or another, we know what that feels like. There is no way to explain it away, you can’t sugarcoat it. However, I feel sometimes that if I don’t talk about it with her, I would have failed her by not telling her to expect it to happen. It’s a tricky thing for me…either way, I want to protect her at all cost.
I read a poster some time back with a young woman staring out into the distance, it read “My mother never prepared me for life without her“. I don’t think I want to be that mother either…I suppose I could always keep on praying and being thankful for yet another day that I get to breathe and be with her. Another day where her little heart will be intact and all will be well with her world, simply because I am still in it. And, when the time comes, we’ll have the talk and somehow, she will reach a level of understanding that this is the way of life. I will teach her to be grounded in her faith so she has something to cling to when the world becomes a scary place and I will teach her to love and be loved…to comfort and to be comforted as the need arises. Being the best person she can be…even if that means – without me.