In November, I had to put my horse Joshua down. I'll probably write more here about him later, as he was dignified and loving and just a super horse for me for a decade of my life. He also made me very proud in the end; in his final moments he was still giving.
My little Henry is dealing with Josh's death also, and we talk often about Josh's body versus Josh's soul and where exactly he is, especially when we pass the un-miss-able dirt mound in the field on our weekly walks at the farm. Here's a conversation we had last week.
H: How do you get to the big barn in the sky, Mama?
H: Because maybe Joshua could come back to visit.
Me: Honey, Joshua's gone. Joshua died.
H: Like the bird who fell off the roof?
Me: Yes, exactly like that. And we buried his body, but his soul went up...
H: To the big barn in the sky?
H: Did he fly there?
H: Because that's silly. If horses have wings then you'd have to hitch them down to ride on their backs.
Me: That *would* be silly.
H: So you have to get a new horse... and I want a pony!
So maybe this just-three-year-old doesn't exactly understand the concept of death, and how do you even explain? Just when you think it's about to get too real, the practical toddler mind takes over. And at least he's focusing on the positive: we remember those we've lost, life is to be celebrated and can be silly and fun, and "I want a pony". Noble thoughts all. I'm enjoying watching him grow so much.