Audrey and I were doing our normal morning thing today. Coffee for mama over books from her bin. Usually we take turns reading. First me, then her. I get all kids of versions of stories that she's either memorized or has made up. She tells me what she sees on each of the pages and for a brief moment I get a glimpse into her powerful and growing little mind. We normally end up reading Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, or any number of playful and happy books that go along with childhood. Today was a little bit different though. She's been very interested in reading about "baby Jesus" and has two different children's bibles worn in to the page where they tell of the Good News of His birth. She can open each of the Bibles and almost instantly find the depiction of the baby in a manger. She's fascinated by something about the story and I'm ok with that. But this time she found Jesus on a different page. This time He was nailed to the cross. That horrible, awful, wonderful cross.
She brought me the book and very excitedly exclaimed "it's Jesus! It's Jesus!" And then told me all about his boo boos. She even told me that Jesus needed some bandaids. It really is amazing what her 2 year old brain is capable of understanding... I told her that Jesus' boo boos were too big for bandaids and that he died on that cross. I don't think she knows what any of that means but then she asked me about George Mason. She put together that George Mason and Jesus both had boo boos that were too big for bandaids and that they are both in heaven.
My heart sinks when we have to talk about something as heavy as death with our toddler. I'm always afraid I won't have the words or that I'll scare her or screw her up. I so often feel like I'm fumbling around my brain for the perfect words and instead of finding them just wishing she will change the topic before I really have to give much of an answer. Today though, she wanted an answer. You could tell that she as confused or anxious about something. She got teary-eyed and told me she didn't want to die. Oh sweet girl, I don't want you to die either.
I'm not sure that anyone is really comfortable talking about death but I particularly hate it because it's impossible to do without tears. The well of salty tears just bubbles over and I'm in the middle of George Mason's day all over again. That moment when my innocent little girl could feel the fright of death... to her a complete unknown, made that even harder. I took a deep breath and told her that we all die one day but that she was going to live a very long time and didn't need to worry about that right now. I also told her that Jesus' death on that cross was really important because it's what allows us to be in heaven with him for eternity; just like her brother.
That brief interaction and answer seemed to calm her fear and satisfy her curiosity for the moment. I'm not even sure why I write stuff like down because in the moment it seems so hard, but I guess it's a good way to look back and see the specific ways that God is and has been present in all of this. Those words certainly weren't mine. Mine would've been filled with a lot more anger and despair. My words would have been tainted by this grief and the pain of experiencing death so first hand. Instead of filling that moment with more fear and frustration, God calmed her fears and mine. He gave us both a big hug and let us know in a way only the spirit can, that we are ok; we are going to always be ok because He is God.
I don't like these conversations with Audrey. I wish that life hadn't given us this dark and heavy thing to experience and explain to such a young person. I wish that her life was all about princess and happily ever afters, but God gave us a little boy to love on and mourn and while that's super hard, it's one of the most wonderful gifts and I wouldn't change it for the world. Instead, I'm thankful that even though we all miss George Mason that God is ever present with us. He celebrates that precious life. He mourns the life that was cut short by human standards. He fills our hearts with His love and let's us know without a shadow of a doubt that we are in no way in this alone.