Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Saying Goodbye

For two days, I dreaded having a conversation with my 3 year old.

Helen, a family friend, recently died from lung cancer. Only a few weeks earlier, CJ met Helen for the first time. He brought a bag of dinosaurs and a shy smile with him to her house.

Although Helen had an oxygen tank and tube to help her breathe, CJ didn't seem to mind. After his usual initial moments of shyness, he soon settled in and began to scour for food. Helen had leftover Christmas goodies, so CJ quickly became her best friend.

I knew Helen was seriously ill, But, I had no idea that we wouldn't be able to keep the promise we made as we were leaving to come back to her house for lunch, bringing a bag of hamburgers with us. The moment to tell CJ about Helen's death would be coming soon. It happened during a car trip two days after her death.

"Mommy, look, I found my dinosaur that I had at Helen's house," says CJ from his car seat.

"Really? It must have fallen out of your bag," I say.

"We need to take some hamburgers to Helen's house," he adds.

Uh, uh, here it comes, I think.

"Pumpkin, we won't be able to visit Helen's house. She was very sick and she died like Casey and Lady (these are two pets that recently died )," I say.

"Why?" he asks.

"Her lungs were very sick," I continue. "Remember how we prayed for her and her lungs to get better? They just didn't get better and she died."

My tears don't start until this point in our conversation.

"I'm sad," he says.

"I know, I'm sad, too," I finish.

"I sure am glad I found this dinosaur!" he exclaims.

"Me, too."

With our conversation about that topic finished, I start another train of thought and we move on.

I met Helen when I was around 8 years old. I always loved how funny she was and how she never talked down to me. She loved my drawings. I learned at my last visit to her house that she kept a drawing I did in high school. I never knew until visitation at the funeral home that she also made drawings. 

I'm so glad that Helen is no longer suffering. But, I'm so sad that this world goes on without her. My family will miss her.

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