Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pillow Talk

One night not long ago, after The Bug fell asleep, I snuggled in next to Sweet Pea on her "kitty bed," as she calls it (her sheets have pictures of kitties on them). She wasn't tired enough to fall asleep yet so we chatted a little about this and that.

We were silent for a bit, and then I thought I heard her say, "I hope you don't die before I do."

"Did she really just say what I think she said?" I wondered, but decided that since it was late and she really needed to go to sleep, I would not pursue such a deep conversation right then. I remained silent.

Sweet Pea, however, continued, telling me how much she loves me and again that she hopes that I don't die before she does. I told her, "well then, I guess I'd better live a good long time."

She kept on, becoming more and more upset.

"Mommy, if you die before I do, I want to still keep you, because I just love you so much." (If that sounds morbid to you, keep in mind this is a four-year-old with very little knowledge of decay, etc., saying this.)

With tears in her voice she continued, "I want to be able to hear your voice when I wake up every morning. Mommy, I want you to make a recording for me, so that if you die before I do, I'll always remember what your voice sounds like." Her voice broke and she was actually crying.

At that point I began silently leaking tears into her pillow. I kept my voice as normal-sounding as usual, though, and told her that we can't worry about each other dying all the time - we'd go crazy with worry every day if we did that. I told her that what's important is to wake up every morning and be happy to be alive, and happy that our family members and friends are alive, and that we should just love each other as much as we can every day and be happy about what we have here and now.

I don't know how well my suggestions quelled Sweet Pea's fears, but I also hugged her for all I was worth and said other soothing things to her, and she did calm down and go to sleep relatively quickly after that.

When I got downstairs and began washing the dishes later I felt so very sad. What a heavy conversation to have with such a young little person. What big, scary things for her to have on her mind. I do remember my now-20-year-old niece asking me about death when she was 4, though, so maybe that's the first age when they start to understand a bit about death, I don't know. A friend and Slipshod both suggested to me that perhaps Sweet Pea's fears were connected to her having seen me almost completely incapacitated for a couple days with food poisoning the week before the talk. Makes sense. Mommy's usually on task 24x7 and then suddenly Daddy has to stay home and take care of everything because it's all Mommy can do to get downstairs to sit on the couch. I can see how that might be a little rattling for a young one.


The Pizzitola Family said...

Rebecca and I haved talked about his before as well. It started right at Christmas time when her school was talking about Jesus dying. And as I was working with the Relay For Life and her asking about Cancer and stuff. Could be since Roz died too in January. But it's weird, she said the same exact thing Sweet Pea said to the T! Hmmmm. Maybe it's just their age, they're getting older and realizing that life ends at some point. Who knows. It's tough to even think about. Hang in there, I'm sure their questions will only get harder as they get older! Great!

Holly said...

One of my first memories as a very young child is thinking about what happens when you die and what it would be like if my dad died and how I would crawl into the ground with him and go with him. I don't know how old I was, or that he wanted to be cremated as I know now, but children do start comprehending death at what seems is a very young age. You did a great job with soothing her.

Christina said...

Wow, I didn't know I'd have to prepare that early for a talk like that. I don't remember thinking about death and dying for at least another year or two - Sweet Pea is ahead of the game, I guess.

We had Cordy tell us that she was scared she wouldn't wake up, but I don't think she grasps the concept of death yet. It's scary enough for adults - I can't imagine how scary it is for a child when most of their life is out of their hands at the moment.

I think you handled it the best way possible, though.