Last night I had a really difficult conversation with my two little boys. I told them that I was going to another funeral. This is my third funeral in just one month’s time, and I have to be honest, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the thin line that separates us from life and death. As an Empath, I feel so many things, and the one thing I know deep within myself is that we are all connected. I know that when I die, the part of me that connects with this Universe will go back to its metaphysical state. It is only my physical self that will be gone, but my physical self is doing a really big job right now: taking care of my boys.
When I told them that I was going to another funeral, my seven-year-old looked at me with melancholy eyes, “I don’t want you to ever die, Momma.” I put my hand on his cheek, and I wanted to tell him that will never, ever happen, but there was something in me that stopped the words from forming. It was the piece of me that knows the stories of children who lose parents and they never recover, they never move on. The death of the parental figure scars them for life, and they become stagnant and filled with fear. My ex-husband was one of these people. His father died suddenly in his sleep after his 42nd birthday. My ex-husband was only 14 years old at the time. He was damaged by this loss and also from the reaction of his mother. She shut down and went into herself. She convinced her boys that their lives had changed for the worse and there was no climbing out. She taught my ex-husband that life is unfair and it needlessly takes the ones we love. She taught him that the death was the end of everything and needed to be feared and fought. She raised a man who was negative, dark and afraid. I was scared that if something did happen to me, the boys would not be able to see the world in the right way again. I felt that this was one of those moments that I could teach them something they could use if the worst happened.
“Well,” I answered, “I do not think that is going to happen for a long, long time, but here is what you can do if it does.” My ten year old looked up from his Pokemon cards. “You can know that you are not alone and that I am always with you. You can know that all you have to do is say my name, and I will find a way to be with you, even if you can’t see me.”
“But how will we know you are there if we can’t see you?” One of them asked. It was a good question.
“You will feel me there,” I answered. They both raised an eyebrow.
“No, really, Mom. How can we know?” They both asked at once. I had to really think and then it came to me.
“I will send you a sign,” I said. “What should it be? If you call for me, I will be there and you will know you because I’ll give you this sign.”
“Hmmm,” my oldest started. “You mean like a street sign? How about a stop sign?”
“No,” I said. “It has to be something like a bird or a penny in the street. ”
“Oh, ok, how about a butterfly?” He pointed to the butterfly tattoo on my ankle. “Whenever I see a butterfly, I will know it is you.” I nodded in agreement, and we all determined that this would be the sign.
“So this way you can know that I will always be with you and looking out for you no matter what.” The boys seemed okay with this idea and we moved on to talk about simpler things. The next day was a play date with my son’s friend, Jake. Ellen’s 60th birthday special was on again today.
The conversation moved on, but I am still stuck in my head. Is it wrong to discuss these types of things with two young boys? Does it do more harm than good to have conversations about morbid what if scenarios? Will I truly have the ability to send a sign when I am gone? I still don’t have the answers, but I hope that I in some way made a tough situation a bit better for them. Perhaps someday, many years in the future, when they are grown and old and I pass on, they will be sitting somewhere sunny and a small butterfly will land next to them and they will think of me.