So, lately daughter has been using the “d” word a lot. Died. Dead.
She found a picture of the cat I had growing up and asked me about it. I told her I had the cat for a long, long time and she isn’t here anymore. “Did she die and go to heaven, mommy?” I was a bit surprised. I asked her how she knew about that and she said “My yiayia (grandmother) told me about her Uncle who went to heaven.”
Wow. So I’ve been wondering exactly how much she actually understands about the word, the concept. I didn’t pursue it further since she really didn’t ask.
Then, I got my answer when she came home from JK yesterday and started talking about Terry Fox. Her school held their annual Terry Fox Run/Walk around the neighborhood. Terry Fox (for those who don’t know) was a young man who developed bone cancer, lost his leg, then started a run across Canada to raise awareness for cancer and raise money. He never finished his run. He made it as far as Thunder Bay when the cancer that took his leg returned. Every year since (this happened in 1980-1981), schools and communities across Canada hold an annual Terry Fox run to raise money for cancer research.
We asked her what she learned about Terry Fox.
Daughter: “He got sick in his leg.”
Daddy: “Then what happened?”
Daughter: “The doctor took his leg.”
Daddy: “And then what happened?”
Daughter: “The gave him a robot leg and he started running.”
Daddy: “That’s right. Then what happened?”
Daughter: “He died and went to heaven.”
(By this point, I am almost crying watching this exchange.)
A few minutes later, my daughter says, “I hope he gets better.”
So there’s the answer to my question. She has no idea what it means to die and go to heaven. Phew. Wasn’t sure I wanted to explain that just yet. I mean, she isn’t even 4 yet! I don’t want that innocence lost just yet. I don’t even believe in heaven really, so I’m not even sure how to handle that question. I hope I don’t have to for a while.