We wanted to prepare Addison for Oliver’s departure.  It’s wouldn’t be fair for her to walk into the house after a play date to find her best friend has disappeared.  Addie is a smart kid.  She picks up on nuances and knows something is amiss in our lives.  She came up to me yesterday while we were playing blocks on the living room floor, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Mama sad.”  I thought that was a good opener to talk to her about why Mama is sad and what is going on with Oliver.

Things my 2-year-old does not understand:

  • Death
  • Euthanasia
  • Cancer

Mercifully, she doesn’t understand all of those things.  I don’t want her to.  She doesn’t get that we don’t want to make this decision.  She also doesn’t understand that, if given the opportunity, we would move mountains to make it all better. 

What Addison can grasp is the concept of Oliver living somewhere else.  My goal in all of this is not to lie to my daughter, but to put things into terms that a two-year old can understand.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  We sat down and told her that soon Oliver was not going to live with us anymore.  He was going to have to live with God in Heaven.  For once, in my life as a parent, I am glad I didn’t video tape this moment because the look on Addison’s face – the confusion, fear and disbelief that crossed over her – was one that I never want to see again.  Then she pointed to the door and said, “Oliver, car?”,  asking if he would be going for a ride somewhere.

Since God and Heaven are also concepts we haven’t yet covered in toddler teachings, we had to break it down even further.  We explained that Oliver is going to live in Heaven – up in the stars – where he will be happy and he’ll be able to chase his ball all day without getting tired.  The downside is that we won’t be able to see him anymore, but he will be up on a star looking down on us.  Anytime we miss him, we can go in the back yard and look up into the sky and wave to him on his star.  Addison was getting confused.  And a little upset.  I could tell she had questions but didn’t know how to articulate them.  I decided that was enough for the day.  Maybe I had gone too far.

Hours later as we were getting into our bedtime routine Addison pointed to the ceiling and said, “Mama, Oliver up high?  Star?”  And all I could do was tell her, “Yes baby, Oliver will be up in the stars.  But for now, lets love him while he’s here with us.”