So a couple of days ago, we were sitting on the couch, watching the news and Marielle says to me, out of the blue, "I miss cancer. I wish I had it again". Ok, big knee jerk reaction from me... I said, "No, don't ever wish you had it again. Be happy you don't have it anymore. Children DIE of cancer".
Uh, oh. We had never actually let Marielle know before that kids can die of cancer. I didn't think it was something a 3 then 4 then 5 year old needed to know while she battled cancer over 2+ years. Yes, children we knew died and yes, she knew that children we knew had died but she never made that connection, that it was the cancer that made the children die.
Fast forward to last night, cuddling on my bed at bedtime and Marielle starts crying and saying she doesn't want to die. Oh man. So I tell her that nobody wants to die, but eventually everyone does die, but hopefully it's when they are very, very old. I even use examples of my dad (who is in his 70's and doing well) and Ralph's Dad who died a couple of years ago in his mid 90's.
Then she starts asking me questions about funerals.... "Will they bury me in the ground? Will I be able to take things into the coffin with me? Will I have a headstone?" Oh my GOD! Where did she hear this stuff? Both Ralph's parents were cremated...no casket, no headstone. We've never talked about funerals because quite honestly, our families aren't "the norm". Most of the folks have been cremated and the ashes scattered or interred very much later. (Ralph's moms ashes were only interred 15 years after she died and after Ralph's dad died.)
Then she starts asking about heaven and who she'll see in heaven....uh, again, where is this coming from? Her religious teaching have been Jewish and Jews don't have heaven.
I'm thinking a mile a minute, trying to answer her questions and put her at ease. She's asking if I can be buried with her, not next to her but can they open the coffin and put us together because she doesn't want to be alone when she dies and she'll wait for me but it will be lonely....and then when I die we can be together...
I keep trying to reassure her, she's crying, Ralph who is also on the bed is saying nothing...not one word, nada, nothing. Later, when I ask him why he didn't say anything he says, 'Well, you were handling it ok, what did you want me to say? Besides, you think faster than me."
So then Marielle asks why we have to die at all. And I tell her that if no people died, there could be no babies. See the world would just fill up with people and no new people could come into the world because it would be too full. She loved that answer. She said, "Ok, then, Mom, it's ok that I die. Because I love babies and I want babies and the world needs babies" I feel much better now. I don't want to talk about dying anymore."
These are the conversations that nothing can prepare you for. I really hope I did it "right" whatever that means. I don't want her worrying about dying or obsessing over it. I did want to give her honest answers, no sugar coating, but I don't want her to be afraid.
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5 years ago