Emotionally, mentally and this bout of insomnia which I can feel coming on [it’s going to be a long night] we can add physically drained to the mix in about four hours.
I’m drained because my 4 year old son wanted to talk about getting really sick, getting old, dying, angels and heaven. The things that go through little minds…it amazes me that they are as aware as they are…
It was not the conversational night-cap I was expecting when I went into his room at 7:30 to read him his three bedtime books. I was caught completely off guard and I stumbled my way through half-assed explanations filled with too many pauses, ‘umms’ and ‘ahs’.
It was not my finest parenting moment.
He came to me to with lots of questions and seeking just as many answers and I was lost as to how to dumb it down to explain to a 4 year old…a 4 year old who is wiser beyond his years.
The only experience my son has had with death is when my Zio Guido passed away this past Fall.
My son would often go for walks with my dad and they would stop in for visits with my aunt and uncle.
He associated those walks and visits with the balloons, cookies and treats he would ultimately get from my aunt and uncle.
Since my uncle’s passing, my aunt moved and just recently sold the house that my son would visit on those evening walks with my dad. Every time we drive by their old house he always asks if Zio Guido is coming back.
I explained to him, as best I could, that he wasn’t coming back. Zio Guido had gotten really sick and he was now in heaven. I told him that if he missed him that he could talk to Zio Guido in his dreams. I assured him that Zio Guido was safe and that he didn’t have to worry about him. Zio Guido was now an angel and he was happy about being that angel in heaven.
That explanation seemed to have satisfied his curiosity for a few months but lately the subject has resurfaced. He’s concerned about my aunt who is living in a new house by herself. He often says in passing that he’s sad for her because she must be really lonely because she has to eat all by herself and no one kisses her goodnight when she goes to bed.
In the last few days or so, he’s become fixated with people getting older and dying. I know this interest in the subject comes in waves…peaks and valleys kind of thing. And I know it’s natural for him to ask these questions…I mean it’s life…death is a part of it…but this Mommy is having a hard time digesting the ‘how to handle it’ part.
Last week he told me that when he got older he was going to be a scientist and invent a vitamin that would keep everybody he loved young so that they couldn’t get old and die. Cue the heart melting and Mommy at a total loss at what to say.
Tonight he was really concerned that my dad hadn’t been over for lunch in quite sometime…‘Mommy I miss having Nonno come over for lunch. I like when he brings prosciutto and mortadella and the panini. It’s fun having lunch with him. I don’t want to forget what that’s like when he comes over for lunch because he’s getting old…and one day I can’t have lunch with him because he’s in heaven and they don’t have planes for me to visit and eat with him. So Nonno should come over tomorrow because I don’t want to forget. I don’t like that Nonno’s getting old. It makes me sad. It makes my heart break.’
Sometimes I forget that I’m talking to a 4 year old boy when I hear him say things like that…he’s so curious, sensitive and intuitive way beyond his age.
Before he fell asleep, holding my hand in one hand and his stuffed Teddy and Freddy in the other, he kissed me on my nose and said, ‘Mommy I don’t want you to die, ever, I’d be so sad because you couldn’t read me my books at night.’
And with that he went to bed. And Mommy just watched him with a heart filled with so much love I though it might explode. I wished in that one single moment that I could stay almost-37 and he could stay 4 years old forever.
For almost 30 minutes I watched him…with tears streaming down my face.