The conversation drifted into our sunny playdate like an errant cloud.
"Mommy, my flower died," Reid held up the sponge-painted clay pot he created for my Mother's Day gift this year. We were in the middle of building castles and mountain-covering roads in our backyard sandbox yesterday.
"We can plant another one in there if you'd like. I bet we'd find a nice flower at Home Depot..." I encouraged.
"Does everything die?" his newly four-year-old voice crafted tiny, innocent words.
"Yes. Everything dies...when it's time." My calm exterior hid the storm of explanations churning inside my mind.
He added support for my claim, "Flowers die. Bugs die. Even PEOPLE die, Mommy."
I avoid the topic like the plague in books and stories and even in real-life. I don't know how to explain it. What, we're alive...and then we're not...it's like sleep -- no, scratch that...you'll be afraid to go to sleep tonight -- and then we'll wake up in heaven.
Around Easter, the question du jour was, "How do we get to heaven, Mommy? Will we take the car?"
Gosh, I hope not. That's my worst fear. WORST.
He broke into my thoughts, "Well, how do we die?"
From the rolodex of possible scenarios, I picked the easiest. "Someday, when you're old, your heart will just stop beating...because it's tired and you've lived a long, happy life."
"Will you die?" The small words exploded like faulty fireworks sputtering along the driveway.
Lord, give me wisdom to answer this sensitive child.
"Yes. I'll die someday when I'm old and you're old."
"Will you come back then?"
"No. When we die, it is forever. But, I'll be in heaven with Jesus and you will too someday. Then, we'll be together again."
"Don't die, Moooooommmmmmmyyyyyy," his little voice pleaded.
"Are you scared that I will?"
My heart lay bare in the afternoon sun, writhing in the depths of the unknown... My fears. His fears. They mixed in a way only abstract artists appreciate.
"Yessssss. If you do then I won't HAVE a mommy."
While two chocolatey eyes searched mine, I wrestled God to gift me with enough time on Earth to raise these two blessed cherubs. Thoughts of my cousin's two small children -- losing their own mommy at ages seven months and four years -- competed mercilessly.
"I'll always be your mommy," I cooed as he slid into my lap and curled up like his two-year-old self, "and I'll always love you. Soooo much."
With only a second's pause, he climbed back toward the sandbox and grabbed his favorite plastic digger from the gritty pile of toys.
"Let's build another road, Mommy."
And just like that, the sun reappeared and the project resumed.
But he has me thinking...