When I picked Shine up from school earlier this week, his teacher asked me if I received her email. I said no. She said it should be in my inbox as she sent it earlier in the day. I was concerned. Did it pertain to Shine? Was everything okay? She hesitated and then said quietly, "We lost two of our students..." My mommy brain took a little while to process the information...then it hit me...oh my gosh...two students died...
It is a very tragic story of two little friends playing after school in a swimming pool...they were only three years old. One was in Shine's class, the other the class below his. I don't know the details beyond that. The email was a memorial to the two students rather than an informative explanation of what occurred. I thought about how I would discuss it with Shine. Mo was going to the gym after work, so I decided I would talk to Shine over dinner when it was just the two of us sitting down together...
I began by asking Shine if his teachers talked to his class about N and D. He said yes and then no and then, "N wasn't in school today or yesterday." I said, "Yes, I know." "How do you know?" he asked. I explained that his teacher told me there was an accident and that N and D's souls went up to Heaven...
"What's a soul?"
"It is the energy that lives inside our bodies. It is what gives us our spirit...makes us, us."
"What does a soul look like?"
"It looks like a very bright and shimmering light. It's pretty."
"Does it have a face?"
"It could have a face."
"What about legs?"
"It could have legs."
"But no arms. Just a face and legs. Well, maybe it looks kind of like a cloud. Yeah...it looks like a cloud with a face and legs and the cloud bumps could be the arms..." he took a bite of mango and reiterated, "yeah, a soul looks like a bright cloud..."
"Do you have any more questions?" I asked him.
"Yes. What does Heaven look like?"
"I hear that it is the most beautiful place you have ever seen. Think about all the places you have seen here on Earth. Which place is the most beautiful?"
"Jamaica...Heaven looks like Jamaica."
He was silent for a while and then he asked," But how do N and D's souls know how to get to Heaven?"
"Your soul lived in Heaven before it came to live on Earth. So when a soul goes to Heaven, it is going home. Just like when a little tiny ant travels far far away from the ant hill...it just always knows how to get back home."
"That's because the ant writes his name on his ant hill with a big stick before he leaves..."
"But how does your soul get out of your body to go up to Heaven?" he asked after a few more bites of mango.
"Well, your body is kind of like an envelope. It is just holding your soul while it's here on Earth. Then when your body dies..."
"How does it die?" he interrupted.
"It could die lots of different ways. Your body needs food and oxygen and a healthy heart in order to live. If it doesn't get those things, then it gets sick and dies. N and D's bodies weren't able to get enough air so their bodies died. But their souls are still alive. Your soul will always be alive."
"So your body goes flat like a popped balloon when it dies...or like a piece of paper...yeah, it goes flat like a piece of paper and then your soul goes vvvooop right out and up to Heaven." He made a swooping gesture with his hand.
"Do you have any nice memories of N or D?" I asked him.
"I liked N. He was my friend. He had a giant belly button. Really, really, really giant. No one else had a belly button as big as his. It made his shirt stick way out like this..." he pulled his t-shirt away from his stomach to illustrate. "May I be excused now? I would like to watch some Tom and Jerry cartoons..."