May 17, 2012

The Caterpillar and The Six Year Old. Hankies ready?

It’s not very easy explaining Heaven and death to a six-year-old.  We’ve been blessed not to have the need for this conversation for some time.  So, you can imagine my surprise yesterday morning when my six-year-old mini-me decided the ride to school would be the perfect time and place.  He wanted to confirm his Grandpa Doc and Grandpa Pete were in Heaven.  Both men solidly believed in the Lord. 

“Yes, baby.”  I eyed his reaction in the rear view mirror.  His brows furrowed up with thought for a moment just before his eyes found mine in the mirror.

“Are they like butterflies?”

“How do you mean?”

“In my class we are studying butterflies.”

“Yes, you showed me their cocoons-“

“Chrysalises, mom.  They’re called chrysalises.”  He quickly corrected me.  “And yesterday three butterflies emerged.” 

“I remember!”  The proud smile pulled at my heart because yes, this is exactly how my six-year-old talks.  He loves big words and now big concepts. 

“So, mom, are our bodies like a chrysalis? “

“How do you mean.”  I searched for the nearest shoulder in the road.  Things were about to get heavy.  Six-year-old mini-me wears every emotion he has on his sleeve and in his big look-at-the-wonder-of-the-world eyes.  If he wanted to talk death, then there was no way to steer him around it because he’d been contemplating this conversation for weeks.  And I couldn’t find a place to pull over.

“I think that we are like the caterpillars.  And we live our lives and then, when we die, we go into a chrysalis.”

“I never-“

“Actually, mom. I’m not done.”  His dimpled smile made the cut much easier.  “You know how the butterfly emerges?”

I nod and get another dimpled grin.

“I think that’s how it is.”

“How what is?”

“When we become angels.  We leave the chrysalis and the people who are still caterpillars bury our body, but who we are is now  free ... flying like a butterfly.  Like an angel.”

I still can’t find a place to pull over and, now, I really need to because I can’t see the road through the tears in my eyes.  How precious. How simple.  How utterly right he is.  It doesn’t make death any easier, but to a six year old, and now his mom… we won’t ever look at a butterfly the same way.

He quickly moved on to the newest Lego Ninjago figure he’d like to “acquire” for his collection, he is still only six and I’ll be cherishing his pure thoughts for as long he shares them with me.

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