14 August 2010
How do you broach death with a young child? In April my grandmother died, and so did my cockatiels (yes. Hobson.) which presented me with several opportunities to discuss this time of life with Lucy - because she was wondering and asking. I never fancied the idea of telling a child that so and so has 'just gone to sleep''. One way to put the fear of sleeping into a child's head. So I have been telling her that yes nana died, and yes we miss her, and we look at photos often. I noticed a photo at my grandmother's funeral of Lucy running after the funeral car and her cousin holding her back. And just the other day Lucy brought up Hobson again and started to get teary and saying she missed him.
The other day we returned to our house to find this dear little waxeye stone cold in the hallway. Blasted cat. Lucy plucked the little bird from my hand and proceeded to 'fly' it. (She did this with Hobson too, for quite some time.) I've always liked the idea of an adjustment/transition period (we're talking pets here) rather than promptly removing and burying it, which brings to mind an embarrassing/alarming situation in my flatting years when I was a twenty-something. A budgie of mine had died and I thought it could just 'rest' for a while in an empty tissue box which I wadded with tissues from a new box (for comfort's sake). A while later my flatmate's friend came over and during the course of her visit she needed a tissue, and before I had a chance to react she whipped one out of the old box and the dead budgie flew out! I don't recall if she ever visited again.
So back to the waxeye, when it came time to tell Lucy it needed to be put in the freezer (now too dark to bury it) she got a bit upset. In case you were wondering, she was fine with me taking these pictures, even asking through the tears after I took the last photo 'can I see me crying?''.