Saturday, January 05, 2013
Heaven can wait
Back at the first part of December, I went to pick Sam up at my parent's house after church. He likes to visit with them each Sunday morning while I am at church and choir practice and so I take him by there on my way. For some reason, on that particular day, he asked me a question about dying and heaven. I gave him a short answer while we were there, but knew that maybe it was time to have that conversation about death and dying. On the way home, he brought it up again, and all the way home, I told him what happens when we die. I told him our souls live on, and that even though our physical bodies are no longer on earth, the people we leave behind always feel us with them, and that we'd always be a part of them as they go on with their lives. I tried to make it as gentle a thing as I could, and he seemed content with my explanation.
A day or so later, he was still talking about it, and I gave him a wonderful book to read called "The Next Place" by Warren Hanson. It deals, in a very gentle way, with how our spirits will soar, be happy, free, healthy, and in pure contentment once we go to the next place. I thought it would further explain to him the concept of no longer being here on earth. But, the end result was that now, a month later, he's still perseverating on it all. For weeks, he'd start talking about it and burst out crying. He'd lay across his bed and literally sob. He'd repeat sentences and phrases from the book and cry some more. I finally had to hide the book. I started questioning whether I'd given him too much information to process. I cajoled, I hugged, I wiped away tears and told him that even though we're sad when someone dies, we need to be happy for them as they are in a much better place. I assured him that the sadness from our loss always dims over time. We have wonderful memories instead, and we can smile and focus on how they still live on in our hearts and were a wonderful part of our lives.
Finally, and thankfully, the sobbing subsided, though the chin quivering still remained as he struggled to process the thought of my dying and leaving him. He called me at work one day to tell me that he knew exactly what I needed... a Lifestyle Lift. According to the commercial with Debby Boone he apparently saw, it made people younger. (Hey, anything to keep me around a bit longer.) Then, he progressed to thinking of his own death. He wanted to know if he would be able to have all his books and movies in heaven. He started telling me that he thought his own journey to heaven would be in 2077 when he will be 85. (Not sure how he came to that determination.) God love him, he was trying so hard to come to terms with it all. And all the while, I was reassuring him and telling him that none of us knows when our time will be. And, I told him that of course, all his favorite things would be in heaven. What else could I tell him? All of this is such a difficult and fuzzy concept for a concrete brained child to absorb.
After a month of this constant and daily focus on what happens when we die, my patience is wearing thin. He calls my parents, my sister, and others to talk about it, and his mood has been really sad and morose. He's reading about it on Google. Lord help. I wondered if I needed to get him back on some SSRI's to help his brain be calmer and to help him let this focus on dying become less all-consuming. But, then I recalled that his last area of focus this all-consuming was the weather, and it was happening while he was on two medications. Each day he focused on whether it was going to rain and if he saw any clouds, he was convinced thunder and lightning were sure to follow along with certain power failure. He worried incessantly about it. Every. Single. Day.
So, I know this will pass. Eventually. (Soon?) He's grown so much emotionally in the past months, and he's done so well off all the medication that used to dull his personality to a degree. I'll wait. I'll keep loving and hugging and wiping away tears. And, one day, without warning, he'll just let it go. He'll move on. I know this. He'll have processed this subject that is even hard for those of us without autism to grasp. Then, finally, heaven can wait.