Lately, Cailyn has been asking a lot of questions about death.
She brings the subject up voluntarily and is so inquisitive.
She is just trying to wrap her mind around everything, I know.
Earlier in the week, she asked me why I wouldn’t let her go to Hospice the day Chad died.
I explained that it was a very long day and it was very sad for everyone…and that she was much too young to be there.
That response wasn’t quite satisfactory to her, so I added that she could see a picture I took when she is MUCH older.
Yes, I took a picture…for this very reason. I knew, one day long from now, the girls might want to see or better understand what occurred on November 10, 2010. I would have wanted to know if it were me. They may never ask about it again, but I couldn’t imagine anything worse than not having something to show them if they needed to have an image for closure and I had nothing to offer. I would never share it with them until they were well into their teens or even later.
“Well…what did he look like when he died?”
I further explained that he looked just like he did the last time she saw him, a few days before he passed away.
I also added that he looked very peaceful and calm, that he wasn’t frightened, scared or nervous.
“What happened to his body?”
“How did he go to Heaven without his body?”
I knew this was coming, as I had only offered minimal information about cremation. I didn’t want to scare her.
She knows that Daddy’s body wasn’t buried and that his soul went to Heaven.
She also knows that we have his ashes and we disperse them in specific places that he would want to be. And she knows he didn’t need a body anymore because he got a new one as soon as he passed away.
She gets all of that.
Or, at least, as much as a child her age can get it…
Today, while riding home from running errands, she asks a few more questions:
“So, when you die, do you just wait around for a few days for Jesus to come get you?”
I almost chuckled, but I stopped myself because she was being very serious.
I also had an instant vision of Cailyn packing her pink Hello Kitty luggage with glitter and Twinkies, waiting for Jesus to come pick her up in a convertible – because I’m sure this is what she was thinking…
I kept it brief, and just let her know that Jesus takes your soul to Heaven the very second you die.
Your last breath one Earth is your first breath in Heaven, and that everyone you love (that’s in Heaven already) is there waiting for you.
She said “Oh…okay” and that was it. She went back to watching a movie in the back seat.
It was quiet for a while.
“Mommy, what’s a soul?”
I have a few age-appropriate responses that I’ve cataloged in the back of my mind; an arsenal of toddler theology.
We’ve approached this subject before, so I was pretty quick to remember my last little speech.
A soul is the invisible part of you – the part that makes you who you are. It the part that makes you lovable, loving, funny, caring and so very different from everyone else in this world. It’s the part deep inside your heart that tells you right from wrong; the parts of your brain and heart that hold your memories and your attitude; the part of you that makes other people know what kind of person you are.
Your soul goes to Heaven, your body does not. When you get to Heaven, you get a new body that is perfect and will never get sick; you just don’t need your old body anymore.
I could see her sweet little face, twisted in confusion.
“Does that make sense, Cailyn? I know it can be hard to understand. Lots of grown ups don’t understand. You don’t have to understand it right now, but one day you will.”
“Mommy, I know what that kind of soul is. I wanted to know what the bottom of my shoe was made out of.”
Silly me for thinking we were still continuing a conversation from minutes earlier.
I did let out a chuckle, then.
I am the Queen of Over Thinking.
But then again, you can understand my confusion of soul vs. sole given our previous conversation.
That child never surprises me.
She keeps me on my toes and she never stops asking questions.
She’s going to be an outstanding lawyer one day…and channel Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde.