The weekend traveling with three boys could have been a nightmare, but it went surprisingly well. There was a lot of sleeping on the plane, which is always a shocking development, and everyone was relatively low-key. But let’s not discuss the fact that Southwest chewed up our car seat and spit it out and let’s definitely not discuss the hateful man who “helped” us deal with the problem. No, let’s not(!).
On the way home we were all exhausted, having spent so much time grieving our family’s loss and also reconnecting with distant loved ones. One of the most tiring aspects of the weekend was attempting to explain death and loss to our boys. How do you tell them where, exactly, the deceased went off to? We say heaven, but where is that? My almost 5 year old suggested that the way to heaven was through the “chute” where they put Greatma’s casket into the mausoleum wall. It was a fun and daunting task to explain that it was only her body, and that her spirit is somewhere else. His eyes were wide as he tried to wrap his brain around that little nugget.
Another interesting question he asked was “how does someone die?”. It seemed to have a simple answer at first, people die from sickness, old age, accidents. But how do they die from those things? Well, their heart is old and stops working. But what makes it stop? Or rather, who?
The more we thought about it, we realized that just as much as life is a miracle, so is death. The thing that triggers a heart to stop is purely supernatural. Even if you see a heart monitor showing a heartbeat fluttering faster and faster, there’s still no explanation as to why it suddenly stops. There’s also no explanation when it starts back up again. Sure, you can talk about electrical currents, but there’s still the why to deal with.
In the end, we simply said that God decides when its our time to go, and that answer will have to do for now. The true answer is one of those unknowns that won’t be known until we can ask God some day. Along with, do aliens exist?, what’s the point of thunder?, who really killed JFK? and what’s the deal with giant squid?. Seriously, giant squid?