Upwards

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“Mommy, I don’t want to die!” I could taste the fear in my son’s voice.

“Sweetie, you aren’t going to die.”

“But mommy, little kids die. I’m a little kid.”

Where did this come from, anyway?

I deal with death a lot. I have always been at peace with it in the clinical setting. I grieve, but there is peace.

I attended my first funeral at age four when my little friend from church nursery died from a degenerative neuromuscular disorder of some sort. I had seen her waste away over the months and I remember being terribly sad for her that she could not run or walk or even feed herself anymore. Even then I imagined that she was probably pretty happy about not being in a wheelchair even if she did miss her mommy and daddy. I didn’t cry when she died.

Now, as an adult, with my own mortality creeping up on me, deaths of friends and social acquaintances can hit me pretty hard.

So what to do about my son right now? How honest am I supposed to be with a four year old about death and dying?

I decided on being open about it. “Yes, hon, babies die and little kids die.”

“But mommy, I don’t want to die…” The sob was starting to edge into his voice.

So we talked about dying, how mommy has been with many people, even kids, as they were dying, what happens and why and that one way or another mommy would be with him if that ever happened.

Then, we talked about heaven. Streets paved with gold, pearly gates, mansions…he wasn’t digging it. I thought he might, given the fact he was in the midst of his pirate obsession, but nope. So I told him there would be corn dogs…all of the corn dogs he could eat (with ketchup) if he wanted. That was the ticket. Within two minutes he had relaxed and drifted off to sleep.

So there you have it, folks. Corn dogs. Corn dogs in heaven? I think heaven HAS to be different things for different people. For my son it will have corn dogs.

Do you believe in heaven? What will heaven look like for you? 

If this looks familiar, you are not crazy. It is a rewrite of an old post from last year…

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103 thoughts on “Upwards

  1. Death is the ever present spectre at the feast. I have written poems where I have tried to normalise him ( sorry I see him as a male.) But heaven what is heaven.. No hate, no stress and truly happy relationships.. … Dream on!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That really is a great way to soothe a child. How do you deal with such a subject with young or old? Comfort food! Mine would have fried chicken. Because it is wonderful and if I ate it (which I NEVER do) I would end up in heaven faster than previously agreed upon.

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  3. What a struggle to know how to approach this. You know that I am an atheist, but when my children were young, before they had the ability to find their own answers and come to their own decisions, we processed conversations like this with some version of ‘a heaven,’ probably something rather mystical and fairy tale like, because how do you tell a small child that mom believes that when someone dies your body just stops and there is no more…especially when there is fear involved on their part and as a mom all you want to do is protect them. It is a lie I told my kids, a lie that contradicts my personal beliefs, but a lie, at least then, that I was okay with presenting to them. There was/has been plenty of time for conversations about this topic when they were ready.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. How awesome. I agree I think it has to be a different picture for different people.

    For me all the food I want with consequences. Total health, no pain or suffering. I do believe in heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve told my kids to trust God that they will die when they are supposed to die. I can’t promise that I know when that is, but I can promise that God knows when that is, and that will have to be enough for all of us.

    I picture Heaven as a state of being where we are in the pure, unadulterated presence of God and we commune with each other in a way that goes beyond telepathy, at a level of depth that renders our previous social connections meaninglessly shallow. Not that it’s bad to bond with people now, but we will be able to bond with everyone in a way that’s so much better and fuller in Heaven.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Indeed. I too believe that heaven and hell will be individual. I see our physical form as one step in our development – so “heaven” is next and I suspect it will have as many, if different, challenges as our physical life has.

    I had a colleague -Gary – some years ago who was fascinated by Hitler.Gary knew more about Hitler and his history than anyone I knew. One evening I came across Gary at the office just sitting and staring off into space. I asked what he was doing and he responded that he was just on his way home when it occurred to him what it may be like for Hitler in hell. “What would it be like if, when Hitler died, he had to “feel” the pain and sorrow and grief and fear of each and every person whose life his actions had touched? That he was forced to go through the feelings of every individual in real time, one person at a time, as if he were that person. The 100’s of millions of people who either suffered directly from Hitler’s actions or indirectly by the war he created and not just the soldiers but their families and loved ones. And all the grief caused by his war and actions. If taken one person at a time,. in real time, it would take billions of years in hell for Hitler to just feel all the pain he caused.” Just the thought was enough to make me shudder.

    My point in mentioning this was to say that I too believe that each person’s future after their death is personal and fitted exactly to what is best for the growth of that individual – for better or worse. So “hell” is really just us having to face the negatives we’ve caused and “heaven” the positives..

    Corn dogs sound pretty tasty. 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  7. When my younger daughter was in third grade, she started having panic attacks in the middle of the night. I finally realized they came about because of a fear of dying (my dad had died not too long before that). We had a long talk and I told her that it’s true that everyone dies, but that I didn’t think she or I would be dying anytime soon. I don’t remember what else I said, but it worked, and her panic attacks disappeared.

    I don’t really believe in heaven, although I don’t entirely disbelieve either. I hope if there is a heaven, your son has all the corn dogs with ketchup that he desires–but that it doesn’t happen any time soon! 🙂

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  8. For me it’ll be quesadilla with “everything”, but I’m not having lots of it now in order not to the precede my welcome up there. And yes, I believe it’s a state of being, a different dimension.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Funny how your post from yesterday got me thinking about death and dying and today’s post is just about that.
    I believe once you die, that’s it. As much as it would be comforting for me to think that I’ll have some sort of consciousness after death, some sort of reunion with those I loved and lost, some kind of carrying on I can’t bring myself to believe that. And some nights, when sleep is elusive, that’s what keeps me up.
    Having said that though, if there is a heaven it’ll be filled with an abundance of chocolate delights to endlessly sample and whole herds of fluffy (and not so fluffy), playful dogs running about. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • If there are no fluffy dogs in heaven, I’m not going. Many years ago, about eight months before we moved to Texas from California, we had to have our 16-year-old long-haired Chihuahua named Lolita put to sleep. We took her doggie bed with us and stashed it in the dining room of the old historic house we moved into while we were unpacking everything. About a month after we moved in, we would hear a little dog running across the wood floors, coming from the dining room and then through the downstairs bedroom where we were sleeping. That room had a screen door that opened on the back porch. The dog would run to it, scratch it a couple of times like it wanted to go out, and then run back across the floor. Long story short(ish)—this went on for a year. After several weeks we determined the activity was centered around Lolita’s dog bed, so we moved it upstairs. Yes, you guessed it. Now we were hearing her come tip-tip-tippying down the stairs at night into the bedroom. When one of our other little dogs died from a rattlesnake bite we suddenly had TWO little dogs chasing each other around upstairs. Then, after about a month or so, the activity tapered off and eventually quit. Did they both go to doggie heaven? I can only hope. That’s where I want to go too.

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      • Us too, for a while. Then we got used to it. She would also bonk around under the bed, tripping on the extension cord, and drop Nylabone dog toys on the floor with a clunk. A few times, right after we turned out the light, we would hear her jump down from the couch in the bedroom, and shake her ears. I kept a little flashlight on the nightstand but was never able to catch her in the act. Our other little dogs, who slept with us, would occasionally look up when they heard her but they never growled or acted afraid.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Heaven is a stone house in a forest with my friend Pietro (who died of lymphoma in 2000) as caretaker of all the dogs because for Pietro and for me Heaven would be a forest and dogs. The house is just extra, the one I left behind in California. It isn’t necessary in Heaven. And when I arrive, Molly, Lupo, Cody and Lily will be the first to recognize me and they will come running to me and all the others will follow. Pietro will be grilling bratwurst. He’ll be wearing absurd boxer shorts we used to send him from America (he lived in Switzerland) with Hallowe’en motifs, jack-o-lanters and stuff. Everyone else I’ve loved and lost will be sitting around a big table under the trees. But the important part is the dogs, but, as with your son, the sausages are an important component. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sleep is enough for me. Sleep will do for I do not know what to believe. The experience of non-existence in sleep or simply non-existence are the only things I can imagine with a degree of certainty.

    Corn dogs in heaven, why not? It is his heaven anyway. Imagine him entering the gate and Peter asks him, “what brings you here?” and the boy says, “corn dogs and ketchup.” Peter would either look surprised or displeased. The boy would simply say, “I like corn dogs. Let’s have a corn dog together.” Peter would accept the corn dog and smile and bring the others. Then the angels sing, “and they ate corn dogs to celebrate eternal joy!” Because corn dogs, why not?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Corn dogs sound better than the heaven a lot of holy rollers thump Bibles about. When I always hear them, I hope a heaven does not exist, and if it does, place me elsewhere.

    I don’t believe in a heaven but I don’t not believe either. Like with ghosts. I figure I’ll never know for sure until I’m dead, so in the meantime I don’t give it much thought. “Supernatural” had an episode where they gave a glimpse of a heaven as I thought of it…Everyone has their own. Whatever you think in life is heaven, is the heaven you get. Corn dogs anyone?

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  13. Just be careful the next time you serve corn dogs. Kids take things so literally that he might decide the corn dogs are an indication that he’s going to die and go to heaven RIGHT NOW.

    I only say this because when I was expecting my third baby, my middle child asked how the baby would “come out.” We told her the doctor would help. A week or so later, I had a doctor’s appointment, and – you guessed it – the kid expected me to walk out of the doctor’s office holding her brand new brother or sister.

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  14. I am an Agnostic, but I have never really believed in heaven or hell. I did not grow up in a very religious family, though grandparents did believe in God and heaven and he’ll. When I heard people speak about heaven I thought, ” sure, sounds nice”, but it never had an effect on me. As I child, I never thought, “if I steal this cookie, I’ll go to hell, or if I share my cookie with my little brother, I’ll go to heaven”. As an adult I feel the same. Granted, the stakes are higher now than stealing or sharing cookies! Lol

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    • My parents were overly, insanely religious so I grew up immersed in it, the concept of good and evil and trying to avoid the ultimate damnation. As an adult I approach it more from the standpoint of grace, the acceptance that no one is perfect and no one can ever earn their way to heaven. It has been very freeing! Helps me love difficult, imperfect people. Some are good enough to love everyone anyway, I am not. I need the extra help! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell. Just the other side. Another dimension.
    But if cor dogs worked, then I’m thrilled for you both, because really, there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest that the welcome mat may be whatever our brains prefer 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  16. A lighter take on how “mortality is creeping in on us” when I think about how many of my good friends had suddenly been taken to the park with corn dogs or whatever fancy stuffs they have there …

    Good to have a chance to read good stuffs again! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. When I was a little boy of five I had heard that Heaven had golden streets that were always clean. And that people who died went to Heaven when they were buried. I thought that anything that was buried went to heaven; so I buried cigarette butts and bits of trash to litter Heaven.

    I think of heaven as a state of mind…and not at all littered.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Heaven sounds so boring. But of course if it does exist, I will not be going there! Actually, when my father was dying (lung cancer) we discussed death; the way he made his peace with it helped me to do the same. We all die…so cherish the life you have.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I agree about heaven being different for everybody. I think this was portrayed well in the movie, What Dreams May Come which had the dead guy, played by Robin Williams, reuniting with his dog. I definitely want to see all my old dogs in heaven.

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  20. Corn dogs! A precious way to ease the fears of a four-year old boy. Great job, Doc Mom. You’ve even eased a little of the trepidation for a 56 year old as I too am a fan of the mighty corn dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. As an atheist, my take on afterlife is that there isn’t one and I wouldn’t be aware of non existence. It would be like being asleep or before I was born – nothing to be aware of.

    But I don’t know if I’d tell a scared kid that, because perhaps it would make falling asleep really scary!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: My Article Read (7-26-2015) | My Daily Musing

  23. I’m pretty sure heaven should have corndogs & definitely ketchup.I remember daydreaming about heaven as a child. And, of course there was the big golden gates on top of white fluffy clouds. All of the souls would have the same image of who they were but kind of like rainbow holograms floating everywhere. Now, I imagine heaven as acceptance. To become apart of the Universe and all things.

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