Death. It is not an easy subject to talk about. Let alone talk about with your 4 year old toddler.
At the same time, it isn’t surprising that a 4 year old would bring it up. It is a part of life that they are curious about. It is one of those questions that I would rather not answer but not as annoying as the question, “why?”
I knew that my time with this question was limited. Little did I realize that the question would come up in such a way that would make me question the very subject.
The moment I laid on the Rookie’s bed before reading him his bed time story was not the time I expected it to come up. I expected it to come up at the next funeral we would attend, whenever that would be. I expected it to come up at dinner or while we were watching TV. Why I wasn’t expecting it right then can only be explained as unexpected.
The Rookie asked about a picture he once saw. I am not sure how his toddler sized brain remembered this picture but some how it came out from the depths of it. The picture was of him and his great-grandmother. At the moment we had no idea who he was talking about.
The Rookie asked us about her and what happened to her. We were confused, thinking he was talking about my grandmother who we see twice yearly (not enough).
In the picture she was holding him as a baby, looking down at him with such pride. She cared so deeply about her grand-daughters and cared even more about her great grandchildren.
Responding that he was talking about Mrs. Rookie Dads grandmother we explained that she died and is in heaven with God.
Out of now where the next thing we know, the Rookie is in tears. He moves to be comforted in his mother’s arms and says, “I hope that you guys don’t die.”
How do you explain to someone who doesn’t quite understand that death is all uncertain? You never know when your time is coming.
It is so easy to explain it when you see a dead bug or one of his hermit crabs has died. But when it comes to someone that you are really close to death becomes this subject that is almost unexplainable.
You don’t know if you will end up in a car accident one day or if you will happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As we tried to comfort the Rookie it almost felt wrong to tell the him that we will always be there for him knowing full well that at some point our time will come. It isn’t a subject that anyone wants to talk about but when your child brings it up how do you keep from talking about it?
The Rookie’s nearest memory of death is when my cousin passed. He was but only an infant, possibly walking at the time, but he did not understand what was going on that day.
He didn’t know why is father was helping carry this big black box into a church. He didn’t understand why he was placing a flower on that box.
He didn’t understand and at the same time I didn’t understand why I was having to say goodbye to a cousin of mine that was not much older than me.
Maybe that is why death is such an uncomfortable subject for us to talk about. We never fully understand why it happens. We know that it is part of life and that there is no way to avoid it.