Tonight the whole family was hanging out in our bedroom, reading books, talking, Marc had A Prairie Home Companion going on the laptop. During the middle of it all Luke brought up the subject of dying. I was going to say, ” I don’t remember how it came up”, but then I remembered that we were reading Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever, and that‘s why he brought it up. He asked me if I was going to get old like the mommy in the story and when I said, “Yes. I will get old and so will you. We all grow and get old.” that’s when the death conversation started.
Now, I’m no longer of the “I’ve got a mansion over the hilltop” mentality, so it’s a little bit more difficult to answer these questions when there are no tangible examples to give. Marc and I both did a lot of talking with them about how we will be with God and everything will be good, there won’t be any pain, and the way the world is broken now will be fixed. The kids, however, think in those tangible ways. So there were questions about “will we have the same house in heaven”. Luke asked if we’d have a house with a downstairs. Olivia asked if we had a house with an upstairs. (Can’t tell we live in a trailer at all, hey?!) I said I didn’t know, but that we would have everything we’d need.
Luke was actually quite concerned as he learned of his own mortality. He said he didn’t want to get old, because “when you get old you shake and then you die”. And he asked several times what it felt like to die. Throughout the conversation I was struck with what a special, sacred moment this was. It didn’t look like much of a moment — folk music blasting from the laptop, Madeline sitting on the edge of the bed drawing silly pictures, Olivia laying on the bed sticking her toes in my face, and Luke pacing by the edge of the bed asking questions. But it was a sacred moment.
There are all kinds of sacred moments. And tonight’s was mixed with a bit of everything — some tears, a lot of questions, a few answers, and laughter sprinkled in the middle. When Luke asked whether our bodies would be the same, Madeline and Marc started answering at the same time. Madeline got out a few words and then Marc continued on, after which Madeline said, “That’s what I meant!” It was something about being the same but different physically. Or something like that. It was rather deep, even for Madeline. But she kept saying that phrase over and over again for the rest of the conversation, like a stand-up comedian who’s got it all figured out and who finds that one bit terribly amusing, so he keeps going on and on about it. Then later, in the “house” conversation, Madeline assured Luke that she was pretty sure he would not have to pay taxes in heaven. And then the conversation was rounded out when Luke asked if we’d have the same car in heaven, or maybe if we’d have a red car… with no roof.
The boy would like a red convertible in heaven.
I guess I leave that conversation feeling comfortable that I don’t have complete answers. I told Luke that no one knows what it’s like to die, but we do know that God is there so we don’t have to be afraid. And that is what I left him with tonight — the promise that he can hold onto: that God is there in heaven, as he sleeps tonight, and in the middle of all of our moments, sacred or otherwise.