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There is nothing like being a mom, to make you come face-to-face with mortality.
In all I have survived in this life thus far, I am still alive and kicking - figuratively and relatively. But, there is nothing. And I mean, NOTHING - That has made me look Mortality dead in the face – screaming – I AM NOT READY or NOT NOW - like being a mother has.
Our night time routines are rather long with our children. Well, I should say, my bedtime routine. I have a series of loving steps that I like to take each night with both of my littles to remind them that they are cherished and loved. Appreciated and heard. Unique and special.
We start with our prayers and then go into – what I like to call positive affirmations. Continue by talking about our day and acknowledging that maybe we made some not-so-great decisions, but tomorrow is the start of a new day and the slate is wiped clean.
One particular evening recently, during my bedtime routine with my oldest, Mortality crept in there in the most unexpected way. Usually, I will wander off into the future of possibilities for my littles. Flash forward and I see them graduating college, finding their way, learning new skills, getting married, and possibly having children of their own. Naturally, in these thoughts of the future – a time that has not yet occurred; I face Mortality – heaving from its dark cavern. I can feel the chill of its cold breath breathing on my skin. But then, I quickly jump back into my daydream or lock on ever so tightly to the present moment.
This night, I am lying on the floor next to my son’s bed. My youngest is cuddled beside me with her pillow and blanket nestled in the sliver of space that remains between my son’s dresser and myself.
Our bedtime routine was going great until he began to ask what happens if he dies. My heart skipped a beat. And for a second I became silently panic-stricken.
Why would he ask a question like this? Does he have some secret and special insight that I am not privy to?
His questions pour in as my emotions pile up on the inside.
“Will I go to heaven? Will I be alone? If I die and go to heaven, can I ask God to make me real again? Will he listen and make me real?”
The questions just flow effortlessly from my son’s small little mouth. Okay, he is 6, BUT still too small to be worrying about MORTALITY!
“I wish you were 15.”
Thinking to myself – well that’s odd, I responded with...
“Well, if mommy was 15, you would not be here right now.”
“But you are so old and I don’t want you to leave me. I don’t want to be alone,” he rebutted.
Now out of any other mouth, the words: You are so old would have perhaps been insulting. But I’m a Mom and the words I homed in on were “I don’t want you to leave me – I don’t want to be alone.”
And then with very real and completely raw emotion, he began to cry and had this awful look of distress on his cute little face.
“If you die, will you forget me? Would you ask God to come back and be real again, so you can be with me?”
With every heart-breaking question and teary-eyed – emotional response, I fought back tears myself.
I wanted to tell him that his Mommy was going nowhere and that he needn’t worry about me, his daddy or himself leaving this world, dying or going to heaven anytime soon. I wanted to cry right alongside him and confess that I, too, was scared.
But instead, I told him…
“You know that everything and everyone will die at some point, right?”
He shook his head yes.
I explained how Heaven would be so amazing because there would be no pain, no hurt, no homelessness, bad, evil or fear, etc.
That I believe that Heaven is the most wonderful place. Even more amazing than we could ever imagine.
As he listened, his stressful look of worry was dissipating. So, I followed with…
“If it is my time to go, I will always be here with you because I am always in your heart. You will never be alone because you will have your sister and Daddy, and me in your heart. “
As I placed my hand on his chest, I thought for sure I was in the clear, but then he asked,
“But, what if daddy dies, too? I will be all alone (completely forgetting his sister entirely)!”
Holding back the immense urge to cry right alongside him, I simply said,
“Well, daddy and I will make sure that you will be taken care of.”
He countered very matter of fact.
“But what if they die?
Then with fear increasing in his voice.
“I don’t want you to die and forget me. I will be all alone. I don’t want to be alone.”
Oh, my goodness. My poor baby. He is terrified of being alone. A feeling I can relate too. Thoughts scuffled within the remaining headspace that wasn’t trying to fight off a total emotional breakdown.
“Hopefully when it is Mommy’s time to go to heaven, it will be long before your time and I will watch over you from Heaven and wait for you and Daddy and your sister to get there, too. Then, we can all be together again,” I stated with as much optimism and positivity I could muster despite being on the verge of a teary waterfall.
“Mommy and Daddy are doing everything in our control to stay here as long as we can but who created us?” Trying some of that tried and true reverse psychology now.
He replies meekly, “God.”
“And You?” I continue.
“And your sister?”
Feeling like I finally had some control of the conversation now, I began to reassure him the best way I knew how. With what I believed to be true and without sugar coating it too much.
“So, when God determines that our time here on earth is up and it is time to go to Heaven, then it is time for us to go to Heaven.”
As he was calming down and the questions were ceasing, I asked him what brought on these questions. To which he replied.
“I don’t want to be alone. I love you.”
My heart was equal parts warm and sad.
I gave him a hug and a kiss on his forehead before telling him that he shouldn’t worry about these things. Instead, he should focus his energy on making good choices, using his listening ears and being kind.
Then, I proceeded to sing to him a song that I sang to him as a baby. He turned, now with a calmness to his face, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said I love you one last time, before closing his eyes and falling asleep.
One day I am going to die.
I don’t want to. I am sure as heck nowhere near ready.
But MORTALITY has once again reminded me that ONE DAY my body will cease to live.
My faith, however, reminds me that my heart will live in others and my soul will live forevermore.