August 2, 2010

Hayden's Plan

As a mother, every now and then you will have a moment when your child makes you so proud, and at the same time, pulls at your heartstrings. This afternoon Hayden & I were leaving a building following an appointment he'd had. As we were walking down the hallway I couldn't help but notice the smell of it reminded me of my Grandma Shearer's house when I was growing up. I've heard that out of the body's five senses, the sense of smell is more strongly linked to a person's memory than any other sense.

I told Hayden about the hallway smelling like my Grandma's house. He did know my Grandma, but unfortunately his memories of her consist of watching her wither away due to late stage Alzheimer's. I took Hayden with me to the hospital when I'd visit Grandma in her last weeks. It always amazed me how gentle he was with her. In fact, the day before she died he wanted to brush her hair. That's the last memory I have of her is watching my little boy brush her hair and seeing a smile come across her face because she knew she was being cared for. 

Of course during the funeral Hayden was very concerned about the casket. Was Great-Grandma in there? Was she sleeping? Where was she going next? I couldn't help but wonder what was going on in his mind. Death is hard for any child to understand (even adults!) but when his brain doesn't work normally, I can only imagine the idea of death being even harder to grasp. I think the hardest part for him was not understanding where Grandma's body went after the funeral. I tried my best to explain it, but felt like I failed miserably in that department of parenting.

Today when I mentioned my Grandma the first thing he said was "Grandma die." Even though it's been nearly three years, he is still concerned about her death and funeral. He followed that with "Grandma buried?" I answered that yes, my grandma wasn't with us anymore & we can't see her, but that we can still think about her whenever we want. And then he said something that for some reason just broke my heart, but also filled it with warmth. He was tagging along beside me in the hallway and asked, "Mommy die?" I hate to think about this, I don't know anybody who does, so I tried to answer matter-of-factly that yes, Mommy will die and that everybody dies at some time. He proceeded to tell me his plan: "Mommy sick, Hayden take care. Mommy die, Hayden bury."

Ack...hang on, let me get a tissue! I can't even describe to you what this meant for me. I remember years ago, while visiting this same Grandma in the nursing home,  I had an awful feeling that as I get older, I may never have a child who is able to look after me, care for me, visit me in a nursing home or hospital. It was almost a feeling of panic, not only would I be alone, but Hayden would be on his own if I were sick. Granted this is years in the future, but at the time it was a daunting thought for me.

Many times Hayden has surprised me with his insight and I have come to realize he comprehends a lot more than I realize. This was one of those times. I had no idea that it was even a thought of his that he'd try to take care of me. Like I said, it just tore my heart out when he said it, but at the same time I was overcome with a feeling of proudness that only a mother can feel. Apparently I should not be worrying too much about the future, for Hayden has a plan.

1 comment:

  1. Trish, this brought a tear (tears) to my eye.