This afternoon I was able to enjoy the company of three of my favorite co-workers. We had a good time catching up from the holiday, chatting up a storm in a local diner and making jokes. We enjoyed a few laughs about how a pair of $6.00 red gloves turned into a $130 purchase of red boots and a red jacket to match. It was a good lunch with friends.
Within that conversation was also discussion about family getting older and the recent passings of a co-workers husband and mother. Our family were not the only ones who had a difficult 2010. As I listened to my friends discuss the difficulties of caring for elderly family members and watching their love for them pour out in their words I realized that we are all fortunate for the time we get to spend with each other no matter how difficult it seems or how many hurdles we jump each day. At the end of the lunch, I joked around that I had a blog for this evening. They smiled.
When I arrived home, dinner was almost ready. I gave my kids hugs and kisses, took of my shoes and talked to Tim about a potential job he received an email for this morning. We sat down to dinner and had a nice meal together; I did not mention my lunch that afternoon.
We talked about movies and Tim told me about a new one he wanted to see. It has something to do with Catholic Exorcisms. Maybe not appropriate family dinner conversation, but none-the-less, a snippet of our discussion for the evening (it wasn't as much about the premiss of the movie but that he was interested in seeing it).
Conversation continued to different topics: Kharter's Webkins account that I promised we'd set-up and preparation for the New Year gathering. Seemingly out-of-the-blue, Kharter looks up and says, "Do you remember when we went to Grandpa's house in Indiana and we saw the graveyard?" Conversation halted.
Over the summer, Tim took a weekend trip to visit his grandfather. He took Kharter with him and on the way back, when they passed through a small town, Kharter looked over and saw a cemetery. He inquired as to what it was; Tim answered. I wish I were there to hear exactly what he said because Kharter continually brings it up. I believe he described it as any other father would but it has stuck with him for many months and he keeps asking questions. I took this opportunity to ask him what he wanted to know, in detail, and we talked it through (not that I hadn't tried the same thing before).
I explained to him what a cemetery is and what it means to die in the most sensitive, appropriate way I could to our 7-year-old son. He thought for a minute and started to cry. I didn't expect it. He asked why parents have to leave like Grampy. I started to cry.
This evening turned into a witnessing experience like we've not had before. The remainder of our conversation went something like this:
Me: "Kharter, there is nothing to be afraid of... my Daddy is in Heaven and I'm sure he loves it there. I know he wanted to be here with us but God wanted him there with Him and Grampy is happy; he's watching over us to make sure we're okay from a distance. Grampy was sick but now he's not. Kharter, do you believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit?"
Kharter: "You mean the little baby Jesus who just had a birthday? Yes, I know He's there but I can't see him."
Me: "Well, just because you can't see Him doesn't mean he's not there. When I'm at work you don't see me but I'm still there. That's where our faith comes in."
Kharter (sobbing): "But I don't want you to leave me and me be all alone. I'll miss you."
Me (trying to control my sobbing): "When you were 10 days old you were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, just like Ryen and Trynity. You believe God sent Jesus to save you. You are a good boy and you are sorry when you make mistakes and ask for forgiveness; Mommy and Daddy are the same... someday, when you can't see us-- hopefully a LONG time from now, we'll go to Heaven too and watch you until you come up to see us again... hopefully after a much longer time."
Kharter: "But you can't see Grampy and I won't see you."
Me: "Yes I can see him! Walk with me (we walk into the front living room). Do you see Grampy? I do." Kharter motions to the wall where my fathers photograph hangs. "Any time I want to see him I can walk in here and say hi. I don't hear him say it back but I know he does. And, I know that he's watching us. I'll see him again and so will you. And when you do, you'll know it's him."
Kharter: "But what's Heaven like? Do you have to live there?"
Me: "Yes you have to live there and it's amazing! I'll bet there are Transformers and all kinds of toys to play with there!"
Kharter: "Is there a playground?! And cars to drive?!"
Me: "I bet there is! I like to picture Grampy driving around with the top down on a yellow 1968 Shelby Mustang KR500; our favorite car!" I giggled and smiled as did he.
Kharter: "But I don't want to go into the ground and be covered by dirt."
Me: "Kharter, your soul will be in Heaven. You don't need to worry about being covered in dirt. You'll be there with us on the most amazing playground ever!"
Me: "Yes Kharter?"
Kharter: "I love you."
Me: "I love you more than you will ever know."