As I tucked the boys into bed, Ben started to sob. He doesn't cry often, but when he does, his sadness fills up all of him. That's how he does everything - wholeheartedly. As I talked to him and listened to him, he told me about the scary feelings he was having, about the worries in his heart.
He understands that people don't live forever. He understands that sometimes mommies and daddies die, even when their kids are little and need them and want them. He knows that families can be reunited after this life, but also that sometimes that can seem like too long to wait.
He told me of his love for me, and how much he needs my love for him. He worried about what would happen if I died. I wanted to tell him it would never happen - that he'd never be left without a mom or dad. But, that's not honest. We've seen too much of these kinds of tragedies in the last few years. We know that life is frail and tenuous, and sometimes ends without warning.
I told him of my love for him. That even if he couldn't see me or hear me or touch me, that I will always love him and protect him and help him as best I could. I told him about the many wonderful people who he could still see and hear and touch, who would come to him and comfort and help and love him if I weren't here to do it.
And still he sobbed, his heart broken at the thought. I lay cuddling next to him, smoothing his hair, wiping his tears, kissing his freckles, and soon he asked me to sing to him.
I sang a few of our bedtime songs, and he listened and cried and shook with sadness.
He asked me to help him pray. So we said a prayer, full of love and hope and worry and feeling. When the prayer ended, he asked for another song.
The words came like a prayer, more true and deep than every before -
Child, I am here.
Can you feel that heaven is near?
a love watch I'll keep
to protect you through the night.
Softer and softer I sang, and softer and softer grew his sobs, until silent hot tears poured down his cheeks. After ever phrase he answered me,
Yes, I can.
I love you, mom.
His eyes closed, his breathing steadied and deepened, his body relaxed, and he fell asleep as I sang him my love.