Gavin doesn’t understand
Gavin tries so hard to understand, but his little mind just can’t comprehend the idea of heaven or spirits and I don’t know how to help him with it. It’s okay, he isn’t hurting or suffering over the confusion at all, but I wish there was a way to teach him what is so grossly intangible. He believes that Ty went on a rocket-ship up to heaven and that it is located in outer space. We never told him any such thing, but ever since he saw the hyperbaric oxygen chamber that one time (we called it “the rocket ship” in an attempt to make it exciting for Ty) that is just what he came up with. I think it’s because we always say “Hi Ty” whenever we spot the brightest star in the sky, too. Truth is, he also believes there are other places in the universe where Super Heroes are real and where they live. He’s four/almost five and this is just how his mind works. Our conversation at the kitchen table today:
“Why did Ty have to go to heaven?”
“Because his body was too sick for him to continue living in his body, so his spirit had to leave and go to heaven.”
“I KNOW THAT!” he said shaking his hand and looking annoyed with me (because Gavin knows everything, by the way), “but why can’t he come back?”
“His spirit is free and he can’t come back because he can’t live in his body anymore like we can.” (I was winging it, this was an unexpected conversation.
“Why did he get sick?”
“I don’t know.” By this time, my insides begin unfolding but outside I keep it together. There is a tidal wave of tears building inside me while on the outside I try to gently tip my head to the side, smile softly and think of what else I can say to explain this to a four/almost five year old.
“Look at this chair I made!” Gavin shows me in excitement! He bit into his slice of apple and it looked like a chair. Then he ran off to see if his Lego guy could sit in it.
The wave inside me began to subside. The difficult conversation was over. I wanted it to be over because it was sad and unpredictable and I was afraid it would end with me crying and upsetting Gavin. And I didn’t want it to be over because I want Gavin to always be interested in talking about Ty. I hope he always asks questions. I hope everyone does.
Ty was different when it came to understanding heaven and spirituality. I truly believe that was his gift. I feel he saw angels for a long time before he passed away. I like to believe they comforted him and helped him feel more comfortable about dying. When I had this conversation with him last September, he just looked into my eyes intently, nodded his head, and whispered a slight “yeah” as I spoke.
"I know that Daddy has told you that you are getting better now. That you are going to walk, and run, and jump in muddy puddles. Do you know what else you're gonna be able to do? Fly. Do you know what heaven is, Ty? Heaven is where God lives, and you know how much he loves you. In fact, heaven is filled with people who love you more than you can imagine because heaven is made of love. There are so many children just like you there. And they want to play with you. A lot of them even had cancer like you, and they just want to hold your hand and have fun all day long! Heaven is filled with rainbows, and at the end of every rainbow is a giant pot filled with candy and chocolate coins. And you know what else? There are muddy puddles everywhere. You can take the hand of your new friends, run super duper fast, jump as high as the sky and then SPLASH!!"
It still seems surreal that I had this conversation with my son just days before his fifth birthday. That I knew he was going to die, and I think he did, too. It still doesn’t seem real.
For those who missed the segment on Katie Couric yesterday, you can watch it via the link below. It was an incredible segment and Katie is a special person. So grateful.