A child does not understand death even if explained as ‘gone’ or ‘gone to heaven’.
My mother died when I was five. It was a tragic accident. A reporter arrived at my grandparent’s home to ask questions. I wanted to tell the story because I was there when ‘it happened’. I offered my story. He was nice and I believed I told him all he needed to know.
I thought she would return. I would see her again and tell her I missed her. After a year I actually forgot what she looked like. All photos of my mother vanished, so I only had a vague memory of a tall, brown-haired woman who had loved me before she left.
At six years, as I sat with my classmates during Sunday services, I diligently examined each woman who passed by my pew. If one was tall and brunette, I waited for her to stop, smile, recognized me and take me home. Some did smile, but each continued on to receive the sacrament.
This search was a secret. I never felt a need to share these thoughts with anyone, not even my sister. I don’t know why.
I don’t remember how long it was before I finally stopped searching. As I got older, I finally accepted the step-mother who took my mother’s place.
My mother is not forgotten. At times I believe she is here with me, but in another form. I talk to her in my thoughts and wonder what she would say about certain things. I look to my aunt—her sister—and project her love and words on to my mother. I think they would be alike in many ways. Until recently, my aunt filled in missing details about my mother. Now my aunt has Alzheimer’s and can not share any more information. So I live with the memories of a five-year old and am happy to have them. My mother was beautiful and talented.
Several years ago, a story brewed in my mind. So I started writing. Because of my busy schedule, it took twelve years to write a manuscript I hope to publish as a Young Adult novel. The story deals with death and absence of a parent. I think I wrote it because as a teacher, I found students who were dealing with the death of a loved one and I empathized with them as they struggled with the anguish and loneliness. After completing the manuscript I spent the last two years editing and having it critiqued. Once published I believe it will help others deal with the loss a parent or someone close.
Have you lost a loved one? As an adolescent or as an adult, do you have thoughts of a parent or other loved one who has ‘gone to heaven’? How do you deal with it? Share your thoughts with a comment below.