Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dreams of Death



It was 6:30am. 

Time to make the donuts wake the child... 

I have a 10 minute window from that moment to the moment at which she needs to be happily chewing on her breakfast of toaster pancakes, milk and Fruit-Eze, watching her favorite shows on TV, while I braid her impossibly long hair.

I leant over her sleeping form, always amazed at how un-rumpled her sheets and blankets are, how quietly she breathes, how she looks like she couldn't possibly have moved even one inch from the position she'd been in when I'd tucked her in the night before, gently kissing her forehead and wishing her sweet dreams before leaving her room. 

Rubbing her back and bidding her to awaken with the simple request, "Wake up, sleepyhead..." she began to stir, eyes still closed...

And then she bolted upright, her blue eyes wide, pupils still pinpricks in the dim light of the room.

"Mommy!  You're all better?"

Ahhhh...so she does dream...

Yes, baby, I'm fine.

"You're not sick?  You didn't go to the doctor?  You didn't fall out of bed?  You didn't die?"

How to answer...  I surprised myself by not being completely freaked out by the questions.  This is motherhood.  Allaying the fears and nightmares of the young, reassuring them that all is well.

No, baby.  I'm not sick.  I'm perfectly fine, and right here with you.

She repeated her concerns again and again, not upset, just relieved

Then she surprised me.

"You're not a cat?"

It didn't take me long to remember that her only real frame of reference for death had been the passing of our two elderly cats a year ago. 

Cats die.

I immediately wondered when it would be prudent to tell her that their ashes are in the two little wooden boxes on the shelf.  That Addy and Delilah are still here, in a way... 

One day...

Not now...

Glad that shelf is too high up for her to read the names inscribed on the fronts...

Coming home from work yesterday, kissing her hello, she asked, "You didn't die?  Everything's back to normal?"

I wonder what she thinks, why she repeats the obvious, how much it actually takes to reassure her that all is well

Little things affect her more than we can comprehend, and we need to stay conscious of that fact.

She's got a keen mind, that one...

5 comments:

Mardra said...

Marcus talked in his sleep before he could talk. Or should I say, Marcus babbled in his sleep before we could understand each other, but that mind was always working and, like all of us, figuring things out with dreams.

Now it is common for him to ask about my dreams and talk about his. I think it's very interesting...

Lisa said...

Ok you just sealed my decision - I'm not taking my kids to my grandpa's funeral. Cate has never talked about dreams so I don't even think about stuff like that - not sure I would have been so composed! I was pretty sure about it anyway but mostly because my 4 year old is already very dramatic and gets upset about so many things, but this gives me a good reason on Cate too and I'm vrey sure none of us are ready for the humans die too discussion quite yet.

Becca said...

Lisa - we took Samantha to my grandmother's funeral a year and a half ago, just before Sammi turned 6. We didn't actually tell her where we were or what we were doing or why, and she didn't ask. She just enjoyed talking to family members. I think she actually provided a little levity that people were grateful for. I think if we were to do that now, when she's 7, it would be very different. We'd have to have the "conversation" with her, like we did with the cats.

JW said...

That's so sweet, she seems so tender hearted. I think death is so difficult for kids to comprehend and I bet repeating that you're okay makes her feel more secure!

Jenny said...

Aw, sweet girl.