Saturday, July 14, 2012

Firetrucks in Heaven

Kinley always mentions Papa John in her prayers.  Every night.  But until recently, it was just words to her.  The past week or so, she's begun asking for Papa John.  She knows every other name that she mentions in her prayers--she's actually met them and knows them.  The other day, her and I were in the car and she asked me if she could see Papa John.  It literally knocked the wind out of me.  God knows how many times I have said those exact same words out loud since he left us in 2005.

I always told myself that my child would know him as well as they possibly could.  He will not be forgotten.  He will not be unknown in my home.  And I knew that the day would come when she would start the questions...I guess I just didn't expect it to be so soon....and so random.

I've told her before that he lives in Heaven with Jesus.  I've told her a lot of things about him.  But it was at times when I felt strong enough to talk about him without crying.  I don't want her to associate talking about him with mommy crying.  But when she randomly asked me the other day, my eyes filled with tears and I had to choke down the knot in my throat before I could answer her.

Every year at the parade, I tell her about Papa John and how wonderful he was, and that he was on the fire department and how excited he got for the firemen fish fry.  How he would sit up on grandma and grandpa's porch and watch the parade go by while all of us kids sat on the curb to be as close to the candy as we could get.  I still remember looking back at the porch and seeing him up there.  I can't make it through that parade without crying at least once.

What do I want her to know?  Everything.  But in time.

I told her that he was in Heaven with Jesus.  I told her that he is her angel and watches over her all day and night.  She asked if it was his job.  I smiled and told her that he had the best job.  She asked if she could go to Heaven with him.  And I simply told her that it wasn't her turn yet.  And that thought brought me to tears even more.

She told me that Papa John was on a firetruck in Heaven and that made my heart swell.  She has been listening all of those times that I told her about him.  I always tell her that he would have been so proud to put her up on those firetrucks and show her around the firehouse.

I told her that Heaven was in the stars--because isn't that how you should explain it to a child?  I guess I want her to have a visual of where Papa may be.  Something that she can understand.

She has confirmed her thoughts about Papa with me several times since that day.  She'll tell me that Papa John is her angel in Heaven with Jesus.  And she seems okay with that right now.  She doesn't understand that he was my daddy.  She doesn't understand the pain of losing him.  She doesn't understand the pain of missing him every day.  But she does know that he's her Papa in the sky that watches over her.  And I think that's pretty good for two--and a half.

What do you tell your child{ren} about deceased family members?  How do you keep their memory alive?

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