Bubblegum from Heaven

“Love the people God gives you, because one day 

He will need them back.” 

I sincerely wish I knew whom to give credit to for that quote, but I don’t. Found it while I was trolling Pinterest. At any rate, it’s a keeper.

Now, where was I? Oh, right. Death. Wait….what??????

After peeling myself away from Pinterest yesterday, The Man and I picked The Beans up from school and drove over to Hollywood to run a few errands. As we passed Forest Lawn Cemetery, a place we have driven by hundreds of times…from the back seat I hear, “Mama, what’s with all those flowers?” It was, of course, Sweet Pea, asking. I replied, “That’s a cemetery, baby.” 

BOOM. There it was. Off to the races.

SP: What’s a cemetery?

Me: A place where people are buried. 

SP: You mean where people die? 

Me: No, it’s not where they die. It’s the place they are taken and laid to rest after they die.

BB: (chiming in) People are buried in the ground over there. The flowers show where they are, so you don’t step on them. There are big stones with their names on top of them too.

Me: (silently saying, WTF? in my head) 

At this point, I’m wondering how in the world Butter Bean knows about headstones and flowers and that you are not supposed to step on graves. I am also telepathically thanking whomever taught her. Because I’m certain I’ve never taken her to a cemetery, and to my knowledge, neither has anyone else. So it wasn’t me. My synapses are firing on all cylinders, and I finally decide it must have been Phinneas or Ferb, or  maybe, Spencer from iCarly. Yes. That’s it.

But it’s not over yet. Not by a long shot.

SP: What if they come back alive? If they are in the ground, and have big stones on them, how can they get out?

Me: Well, they don’t get out. Or come back to life. Once they reach the cemetery, that’s where they stay. Forever.

BB: Unless they turn into zombies.

Me: There are no such things as zombies. They are only in the movies, or on television. Oh, and in that game, Office Zombie on Daddy’s phone. But you know that’s not real.

If you are wondering….yes. I am now certain where she learned about cemeteries, AND kicking myself for being the cool mom, who let her play that game, and glimpse whatever zombie crossed our television screen. Seems to more often than not, bite me square in the ass. I am also…no longer thankful. Instead, I am panicked about what else she knows at the ripe old age of 7. F-F-Double F.

Just when I think it’s D-O-N-E, Sugar Bean, who has been silent the entire conversation decides to muddy the waters with, “What about people who are resuscitated?”

Me: Well, if they are resuscitated, then they don’t make it to the cemetery to be buried. Resuscitation means they are brought back to life. 

BB: Like zombies?

(shaking my head)

Me: (to The Man, who has also remained silent) A little help here????

Fortunately, there was something shiny up ahead, and the focus shifted. Whew—crawling out of that hole might have been more difficult that coming back to life as a zombie.

Regardless, the conversation did start my cerebral gears turning, which reminded me I can’t recall being taught about death myself. Not in a matter of fact, logical kind of way that is. In addition, I’m pretty sure I grew up with the idea that children shouldn’t go to funerals. Why? It’s part of life. A sad part, but an inevitable one. Sheltering doesn’t make much sense, suddenly. However, as we mothers often do, I am guilty of subscribing to this school of thought handed down from my own parents. An obvious parenting fail.

My first experience with the loss of a loved one was the death of my maternal grandfather, when I was 18. He was 90, and lived a long, healthy life. No tragedy involved. Somehow that makes it easier, I believe. Ironically, I had the unexpected honor of explaining death to my niece, Meaghan, who was 4 years old at the time, when she walked up to Papa’s casket and asked me to hold her up so she could see him. The conversation went something like this:

Meaghan: If Papa isn’t here, then how is he here?

Me: Well, his body is here, but his soul is in Heaven.

Meaghan: What do you mean? There he is….right there….sleeping.

Me: No, sweetie. He isn’t sleeping. He is resting, but he isn’t going to wake up, because his soul is in Heaven.

At this point she is still looking at me, in silence, with a preciously confused little face, on the verge of tears.

So, I decide to get down on her level, intellectually speaking.

Me: Alright, let me see if I can help you understand. You know when you have a piece of bubble gum, and you unwrap it and put it in your mouth to chew it? 

Meaghan: Uh-huh.

Me: Well, the bubble gum is really sweet and you enjoy it, and you smile while you have it, right? 

Meaghan: Yep.

Me: Then, after a little bit, all the sweet is gone, so you take it out of you mouth. But you still have the wrapper, don’t you? 

Meaghan: Uh-huh.

Me: Papa’s bubble gum is in Heaven, and this is his wrapper. 

Meaghan: (wide-eyed) OOOOHHHHHHH…..I get it!!!!

Mission accomplished.

Without hesitation, I explained death to a 4-year-old. But only because it was right there in front of her. What’s the standard response when it’s not? Perhaps that’s a fine reason to allow children to attend funerals when they are observant and vocal enough to ask about the flowers in the cemetery.Definitely something to ponder.

Strangely, The Man is away this weekend attending the unexpected memorial for one of his family members. I stayed home with The Beans, after remembering children have no place at funerals as it would simply be too hard to explain.

Why didn’t I remember THIS instead?

Because I have zombie mommy brain, that’s why.


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