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Heaven Sent

Heaven Sent

Issue 61 October 2009

Death is a part of  understanding life and it was inevitable that I would have to discuss it with my younger children eventually. That discussion was however hastened by a discovery they made in the garden. It was one of those mild days when the children were glad to get out of the house and I was happy to have them out from under my feet.

They all went outside and were soon dispersed, busy in various activities. I put the kettle on and prepared to settle myself down for a nice tea break, but it was not to be...“Mum,” came the call from outside. It was Sobia, my three year old.

Reluctant to leave my hot mug of tea, I yelled back, “Yes what is it?”Sobia insisted, “Mum! Come here and see!” I reluctantly went outside to find her crouching and peering under a bush at a bundle of feathers. Some poor bird had obviously expired and Sobia had found it. “Mum, what’s happened to it?” she enquired. By this time her older sister Hiba had joined us, looking concerned. I tried to reassure her and said, “Honey the bird has flown, it’s gone to God in heaven.”

Hiba looked at me, then looked at the bird lying still in the grass and said, “Did God not want the birdie mum? Is that why She sent her back here?”A more frank explanation was then required. “I meant to say the bird is .....,” I hesitated, “asleep forever, but it’s ok his soul has gone to heaven.” By this time the other two had joined us and all were gazing at the bird. “Leave it alone,” I suggested, feeling squeamish. “Dad will sort it out when he comes home.”

A few minutes later Hakim came running inside whilst being chased by all three girls. “Mum tell them to stop it!” he yelled trying to give them the slip by running around the kitchen table. “They want me to kiss the dead bird!” Bewildered I looked at the three girls and queried, “Why do you want your brother to kiss it?” “A handsome prince has to kiss the bird and she will wake up!” explained Sobia. “Yes, just like that other bird Snow White,” Hiba clarified.

This felt like the right time to speak to them about Death. “People die mostly because they get ill and old,” I tried to explain. “But it’s ok, because when they die they go up to heaven where they can live happily ever after.” The girls asked, “Where is heaven?” to which I replied, “It’s high up in the sky.”

I walked away leaving them to organise the burial for the bird, feeling satisfied that I had handled the topic appropriately. However my children were soon to prove that wrong.We had gone to stay with the grandparents for the weekend. The adults were sitting chatting and the children were playing on the carpet within earshot. After an hour, their grandmother said she had a headache and wasn’t feeling well, so she was going to her room to have a lie-down for a while.

Upon hearing this Hiba ran over from where she was playing and threw her arms around her Gran giving her a firm hug. “No, please don’t!” she said holding on tight. “Don’t what my dear? I’m just going for a lie down,” said the bemused granny. “Don’t die!” Hiba cried squeezing her grandmother harder. “Mum said you die when you are old and ill. And you are already old...” I jumped up to intervene at this point, with further explanations being required to both grandmother and granddaughter before Hiba would allow her Gran to proceed to the bedroom.

A few weeks later, we were returning back to our car which had been parked at the top of a multi-storey car park. The lift seemed to have malfunctioned and so we decided to traipse up the stairs.

It was hard going with the kids. Even Hakim who normally races on ahead of us was flagging and we had just gone half way. “Come on!” I encouraged the others. We all had a rest and then proceeded to climb yet another flight of steps upwards. “That’s it,” I said as we reached the last lot. “We are nearly there now.” Sobia who by now had refused to walk any further and was being carried by her father, looked down at all the stairs we had just climbed up and exclaimed, “Wow! Are we in heaven now?”

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