Joshua is 3. In my eyes, a 3 year old should be naive to the painful truths of life, most importantly a few things : Death, Divorce, and Hate. I want my son to not understand any of these situations until he is old enough to spell the words and use them properly, and I want that for him because I want him to maintain his innocence as long as possible. I think these are normal wishes of a parent of a small child, but already at 3 years old, he understands and knows the meaning of all three of those words, and until I sat and contemplated this, it scared me. Then I remembered, when I was 3, my parents had been divorced for 3 years, my mom was already remarried, I already had a half brother, and my father was getting remarried that year. Then I also realized I'd lost my grandfather, and my grammie Ellie wasn't too far behind him. It hurts to think that at such a young age I became comfortable with death, divorce and hate, yet it somehow relieves me now that I realize Joshua understands them, is not afraid of them, and knows why they happen.
A year and a half ago, my fathers cousin passed away from Hepatitis. I was pregnant with Lucy, and Joshua was 19 months old. I had no babysitter, and took Joshua with me to the viewing hours, as I wanted to pay respects to my family. He obviously didn't understand, but he also didn't do what I tried to at my Grammie's hours (jump in the casket with her, I wanted to nap with my Grammie!). He took in his surroundings, noticed it was quiet and calm, and acted accordingly. I was hoping at this point that this was the last time we would have to deal with this until he was older. Now, just last month, my Pepere passed away. With this Pepere passing, Joshua gathered the death AND divorce in the same timing. Pepere was my mothers second husbands father. He knew that Pepere was Uncle Chris's grandfather and not mommy's anymore, and he knew that Uncle Chris's father wasn't married to Nana. My mother has been married twice, and is engaged again, so Joshua has many grandparents on my side (Nana and Papa, Grammie and Grampa, Memere Poirier, Memere Hamel [Uncle Chris's Memere]) and in my opinion, there is no thing as too much love.
When Pepere Hamel was taken to the hospital, I braced Joshua for the worst. He knew that Pep had been in a nursing home, and was sick, but none of us saw death anytime soon. When Pep got sick enough to go to the hospital, I sat Joshua down and we talked about Heaven. We talked about how when people are old and sick, God takes them to a better place where they wont get any older or sicker, and get to have fun. Joshua seemed to understand and immediately asked me if Pepere was going to be with the goldfish from Nana's work, which I responded yes, and then asked if Pepere was going to get to golf again, and I couldn't help but laugh through the tears. Joshua seemed to understand exactly what was going on, but looked for the good in the loss. He said he would miss our weekly visits to Pepere at Lakewood, and hoped that we would still get to see Memere Hamel often, but that he was happy he could golf again, and didn't need his wheelchair.
Now Joshua's great grandmother on his dads side is sick and suffering with ALS, and probably only has days left of her life. Last night I sat Joshua down and asked him if he remembered the last time we went to see Mimi's Grammie. He said yes, and asked if she was still sick. I told him at that point that Grammie was probably going to Heaven soon, and again, like he really understood, his response was this : "well, if she goes to Heaven she wont be sick anymore, and that is good. Will Grandpa still be there?" ... again, I chuckled at his honesty and compassion with the situation. He truly amazes me everyday.
I wanted to leave death hidden from my children for as long as I could, but since they have been shown the worries so young, I can only be thrilled that they are so understanding, caring, and compassionate about such deep life subjects. I truly have been blessed with amazing children.
Lucy with Grammie, Spring 2011