Yesterday evening, my wife and kids surprised me with pizza and stromboli for dinner.
“Daddy,” the four year old called. “We got you a special treat!”
I ran down the stairs. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah,” he nodded. “Because you’ve had such a tough day.”
During dinner, my wife excused herself to go to the bedroom. After a few minutes, I checked on her. She waved me away. “Go stay with the kids,” she said. “I’m fine. Really, I’ll be there in a little bit.”
The kids were understandably confused and upset when I returned.
“What’s wrong with momma?” one asked.
“Is she going to be okay?” the other one chimed in.
“She’s just sad,” I said. “She’ll be back in a little bit.”
By the time she returned, the six year old had finished his pizza and was drawing a picture of a fish. The four year old was still eating.
“I think we need to,” my wife whispered.
“I know” I nodded. There are some things I simply am not ready to discuss with them. Unfortunately, my readiness is rarely relevant. I took a deep breath.
“Okay guys,” I said. “We need to talk.”
They ignored me. They always ignore me when I have something important to say.
“Do you remember Uncle Ed?” I asked. Something in my tone or phrasing caught their attenton. Both stopped what they were doing and looked at me, eyes wide. I noticed my oldest son’s chin start to quiver. “He died this morning.” I said quietly.
The six-year old’s mouth dropped open. “He died?” he whispered.
“So we won’t get to see him again?”
I nodded again. A heavy silence settled on our little kitchen.
“Well,” the four-year old said, gesturing with his hands. “There’s one good thing. There’s one thing that’s good. That is, there’s one thing, kinda good. What’s that place called again? That place?”
“Well, no. That’s good, but no. The place with the rocks and the writing.”
“Yes. Now he gets to have his name written on a stone in the cemetary. And we can visit him there.”
I shook my head. “I don’t think that’s such a good thing.”
“Yeah,” my six-year old had recovered himself. “But it’s good that he’s in heaven.”
“That is good,” his little brother agreed. “It’s really really good.”
“Yeah,” the six-year old nodded. “We’ll be able to see him when we get there.”
“Yes,” I said. “That’s true.”
Goodbye, Ed. We all miss you, and I hope you had yourself a little chuckle up in heaven as you watched the kids try to reassure me.