Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Talking About Death with a Four Year Old

The other day I noticed that one of the nets from our blueberry bushes had drifted across the yard, and thought wow, it must have been really windy.  I went out to put it back on the bush and saw that about four feet from it was a dead bird : (  The fabric was fairly open at the bottom so I imagine that's how the bird got in, ate berries, panicked and then couldn't get out.  What a super strong bird to fly across our entire yard covered in fabric with two clothes pins to boot.  Then to escape and die four feet away from the cloth...very sad, and strange.  The timing however, really couldn't have been better.

My father-in-law is in stage four of his battle with cancer and we had just spoken with Miss B over breakfast about how he is so very sick, sicker than the last time we saw him and that he might actually die.  She seemed to take it in matter of factly, and we talked a bit about what different cultures/religions think happens to us after we die.  We talked about taking some books out at the library about Egyptian after-life ideas and the conversation ended.  Two hours later I found the dead bird.

Talk about a teachable moment.  I told Miss B what had happened and then we talked about what we should do.  Leave it on the lawn for bugs and possibly other animals to eat or put it in a shoe box and bury it.  She said she wanted to bury it. Then all on her own, she filled a box with flowers, making a little pillow at one end and a flower "blanket" out of a giant hydrangea.  I wrapped the bird in toilet paper and set it in the flower bed inside the box.  Together we decided to bury it in the shade of our favorite rose bush so that the nutrients in the body could go back to the earth, feed the soil and in turn feed the rose bush.  Then every year we enjoy the roses we can remember and honor the bird.

Digging a shoebox sized hole was a bit more work than I expected.  But we did it and then we said a few words about how we were sorry the bird got caught in our net and then shared some wishes for the bird if it was going to an afterlife.  I said I hoped it had tons of berries.  Miss B specified that there be no nets.  Then she leaned down and kissed the box and we pushed the soil back into the hole with our hands.

The whole experience was beautiful really, and came at the time when we most needed it.  I am truly grateful.

We're heading up the coast for a couple days, for some much loved cousin time. It may be quiet here.

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