Last night on the way home in the car--it was just me and Evan because Dad and sister were in another car--Evan's joy was palpable. I am reminded of that old song, "My Cup Runneth Over." Evan's cup was definitely pouring out all over the back seat. He kept telling me how much he loved me and what a great day he had had and at one point said, "I'm happy I'm alive." I told him that he had many blessings and a thankful heart and he agreed.
Last night when it was time to go to bed we "snuggled" together for a long time. Suddenly Evan turned serious and mused aloud, "I guess I'll be too big for the children's museum soon." I told him of course he wouldn't--that there are adults going to the children's museum all the time. Then he stated, "I miss my younger days." I told him I did, too, a little. He responded: "But we can't reverse the days."
No, Evan, we can't.
"We can't time travel."
No, Evan, we can't time travel.
I asked him what he missed and he said he missed some of his old toys and sitting on my lap and his preschool class (even though we homeschool our children Evan went to the half day preschool at our church for a couple of years). I told him he could still sit on my lap and he said, "Yeah, but pretty soon I'll be too big to fit." Then he started to cry: "I miss Mrs. Bolt [his preschool teacher, who died several years ago from breast cancer]. And I miss Grandmother and Granddad. And I miss Trevor [his brother, who is away at college right now]." The sobs became loud and furious.
I hugged and comforted him, of course, and once he calmed down we talked. I told him I understood his sadness because the passing of time is a hard thing to accept, but we have no choice but to do so. God made him to grow and to some day grow up, and that is what he is going to do. I told him that parents are sad sometimes to see their babies grow up but that at the same time they are overjoyed to see all the wonderful things that come with those babies growing up and that I was so excited to see where life would be taking him. He took all this in and then said, "Some people don't have children."
"No, Evan, some people don't."
"Yes, that's sad. But some people have a different calling. Not everyone gets married."
"But some people get married and still don't have children."
"That's right. For reasons we don't understand, God does not send children to all married people. It might be that He has other plans for them--other things that He wants them to do." I gave him the example of a faithful Lutheran couple in his life that do not have biological children but that have many, many people that they serve and care for in other ways, including spiritually. And then I told him that there are seasons of life--that there is a time for having babies and a time for not having babies. He looked up at me questioningly:
"We're not going to have another baby."
"No, we're not going to have another baby. Right now Dad's and my job is to take care of the babies we already have."
At that point the conversation took a different turn--I think it may have been to tell me about the Sponge Bob episode he watched earlier--and I instructed my newly minted 8-year-old to get his pajamas on and brush his teeth. We met in his room a little while later for bedtime story and prayers and I pulled out a family favorite: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. I couldn't remember if I had ever read it to Evan. If I had, it had been a long time ago and he didn't remember either.
We started to read the book and already on the very first singing of the "Love You Forever" poem on the first page I started to choke up. But we forged ahead. I told Evan to keep his eye out for the kitty in the story, which is on every page until the boy in the story grows up and moves away from home, at which point that first kitty is nowhere to be found but a brand new baby kitten can be seen at the now grown up man's new house. Evan had fun looking for the kitty but I could tell he was taking the book very seriously. As we neared the end--the page where the man visits his old, sick mother and holds her on his lap--I wondered to myself, "Oh dear, what have I done? What was I thinking in pulling out this book?" I offered to put the book away and told Evan we could finish it another time. Amidst his tears, he said no. He wanted to read to the end.
I think that to the extent that an 8-year-old is able, he understood the book. He understood that some day that old lady with gray hair and glasses will be me and he will be the grown-up man who holds his elderly mother on his lap and sings her the "Love You Forever" song before going home to sing it again to his newborn baby girl. After we finished reading, tears streaming down both our faces, I told Evan that this book is about the passing of time and how we grieve the things we leave behind but how we pass those things on to our children, and our children pass them on to their children, and how it goes on forever and ever until the end of time. The book does not come from a Christian viewpoint, but I reminded Evan that the love that gets passed down through generations started with Jesus and will end with Jesus when we join Him in heaven.
With watery eyes, Evan looked at me. "That's a sad book, Mom."
"Yes, Evan, but it's a happy book, too."
"Yes, it's sad and happy. It's almost got too much sadness and happiness to take."
Welcome to the rest of your life, Evan.
He went to the shelf to get another book.