The sun was peeking through the clouds giving slight highlights to our morning as we traced the familiar steps to the car.
My son climbed into his almost too small car seat. I remember when he seemed so small in it and though he will always be my little, he sees himself as big.
I like these morning rides, these insights into his toddler mind as he asks me questions or tells me stories.
The engine reluctantly warmed itself to start in the cold as I adjusted the heat and put on the silly songs CD my son likes to listen to during our drives to school.
A rushed pulling out of the driveway left us headed to school just a few minutes late, because try as we might we can never make it out of the house exactly on time.
As I turned on to the next street I slowed as a kitten ran across the road.
“Oh, no, get out of the road little kitty!” I exclaimed.
“I just saw a kitty run across the road but I don’t want to hurt it.”
“No, because then it would be squished and have to fly up to God.”
I paused at his certainty but responded with “Yes, then the kitty would go up to heaven with God.”
I then gave pause to my uncertainty as I added, “Mommy’s Daddy lives in heaven.”
We’ve talked about it before, but it’s still a hard topic for me to articulate and I think perhaps harder still for him to understand.
“Did your Daddy get squished?”
“No, when I was a teenager my Daddy got very sick. The doctors tried to help him get better but he was too sick, so he went to heaven with God. It was very sad for Mommy. I still miss him every day.”
I could almost hear him thinking. He pondered my answer while the car made tree blurs behind us and silly songs became a quiet background to our conversation.
“But, Mommy, you still have your Mommy.”
“Yes, I still have my Mommy and I’m so glad. And then when I grew up I got you, and I love my family very much.”
I saw his face beam with pride as I caught a glimpse of him in the rearview mirror.
“I love you, too, Mommy.”
It was my turn to beam. And though talking to him about this used to make me cry, it’s now just something of a fact, something that happened, something that is.
Because what I know now is that the loss of my father when I was young was a tragic part of my story, but the knowledge of his existence needs to be an important part of my son’s.
And so I will slowly weave in pieces when they seem to fit, in the gifts of time when pieces of the past give way to blend in with pieces of the present.