Friday, August 17, 2007

They Make Me Laugh Every Day

Going to the cemetery with my kids used to be easy. They would be asleep in the car and I would park and get out, leave some flowers, tidy up and get back in the car and they would not be the wiser. My, how times have changed.

Yesterday I stopped by the cemetery to "visit" my father and, of course, I had the kids with me. R woke up just as I pulled in and knew exactly where we were, she was the one who picked out the flowers and wanted to carry them to Grandpa. L said he wanted to stay in the car. OK, that was finewith me.

"Don't walk on him" R said to me as I stepped by the gravestone to weed a little. "OK, I will try not to, but you know it doesn't hurt him right R?" I said.
She lovingly placed the flowers and arranged them by the headstone. "Here you go Grandpa" she said.
I immediately started to cry. I never wanted to repeat what I had done with my mother so many years ago. My Mom toting her two young children to the cemetery to visit her father. I could no imagine a world without my dad, never mind my children living in it with no memory of him.

R rushed back to the car, and I walk over, L was crying. "what is wrong?" I asked him. " I want to see how he is doing " L said sweetly as I pulled him out of his car seat. Together I walked with my two small children through the cemetery.
"Hi Grandpa!" L said. "Grandpa, can you hear me?" R said laying on the grass, face down yelling into the ground. This both made me laugh and tear up again.

They are sweet, empathetic children who are naturally interested in the world and how it works, so it is no wonder I have to field questions from strange to how the hell do I answer that. I don't want them to fear death like I did when I was young so E and I are sure to tell them that people and animals die when they are both very old and very sick. A lie I know, but the painful truth of loss will face them soon enough. Neither our dog or my father was old when they died, but I don't want them worrying about themselves or one of us dying.
"what is Grandpa wearing?" "does he had dirt in his mouth?" "is he with god, or buried in the dirt?" "are there worms in the dirt?" "where is heaven" and "how did he get buried" are all questions I was asked yesterday.
Some I knew how to answer, others I didn't. Some made me cry and others made me laugh.
All in all I came to one conclusion: I am not going the cemetery without E anymore.

6 comments:

  1. hey. what about telling them about souls? little kids can still see them and it might be easier to know that the body is just like a case? i dunno. i plan to tell rio everyone moved to disney and we can't go there because it's too crowded .... :)?!

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  2. My son's understanding of death is limited to his cat. However, he has recently has started asking us about dying and then gets upset because he doesn't want to die. I cannot do anything but listen when he gets like this. I can't lie and say he'll never die and I it won't make him feel better if I say it'll happen a long time in the future. A long time to a child is a week. I just hold him and listen to his fears and answer questions I best can.

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  3. Kids and their innocent questions can bring up great memories but also painful ones.

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  4. That's a tough one. I'm sorry you had to handle that one on your own. I think it's very sweet how they clearly feel a connection to their grandfather though. You are such a devoted daughter. I know many people (including my own husband) who have lost a parent and rarely visit the cemetery for one reason or another.

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  5. Difficult situation. It seems you handled it about as best as you could. Losing a parent early is not an easy thing to deal with. It's been almost 3 years since I lost my dad and at least a couple of times a week I'm fielding questions abut grandpa or being told how much they miss him.

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  6. Kristi5:10 AM

    Losing someone never gets easier, but their questions are awfully cute... and normal. I love this story, I'm just sorry its so painful for you. I can't imagine losing my parents. I don't want to

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