"I wish I had died when Daddy died."
"Because don't you know I haven't seen him since I was five? Don't you know that's such a long time?"
He has come to a new awareness of the dad-void in his life. He talks about it much, cries about it easily, and has a bittersweet relationship with pictures and memories. He says, "I want to look at that, but … I just can't." He shrugs tears back, even though he doesn't have to.
"I just wish I had died."
"I can understand that. I've wished that sometimes too. But the thing is, once you go to heaven, you can't come back. That's why Daddy isn't here."
"I know." I know you know. I'm not trying to patronize you. You know all too well, my love.
"So, if you died too, I'd be here without you. And then I'd look around and think, 'Well, now what am I supposed to do?'"
I made him smile. He leans into me, and I have to stretch a little to rest my chin on his head. My tall boy.
What I love most is that he can tell me things like this, tell me that death doesn't scare him and sometimes sounds okay. It's not the same as wanting to end his life; it's the longing to go see the home that's being prepared for him. Because to us, it's very real.
"But just think. Someday you'll get to go, and Daddy will be ready for you. And you'll get to introduce him to your wife and your children, and he will love to see everything you did while you were here. He doesn't mind waiting for you. So go ahead and stick around. With me. Kapeesh?"