So, Grubby the Caterpillar didn't make it. Last night, K came into the house with the lifeless larva on a leaf, and asked if she was dead. K started crying because she thought she didn't do enough. This is the little girl who built a bed of leaves around the caterpillar, covered it up, gave it water and then ran into the house to tell me about the "habitat" she made for Grubby. Sean and I reassured her that she did everything she could to give Grubby a chance. After a bath, K came into the living room in her little yellow night gown. She told me she wanted to take Grubby back outside and put her on the ground "where she belonged". When we did, K very gently stroked her caterpillar friend's back. Odd to see such a small hand weighed down with such a heavy emotion.
"Is she going to be okay?" she asked. "Grubby doesn't need her body any more, baby," I said. I've never been one to sugar coat things, especially natural things like life and death. "What will probably happen is that a bird will eat Grubby's body so that it can live. Grubby's soul will go on though." (Yes I think animals have souls.)
"How?" "I don't know," I said. "Maybe her soul will become a butterfly or moth somewhere." "Will Grubby's soul become a new egg?"
What a beautiful thought! I told K that I thought that was lovely and she said, "Maybe she's going to be an egg and she'll hatch into a new caterpillar and come see me!"
It's so awesome to watch her grow, to make her own ideas. And holy shit, my kiddo independently thought of reincarnation as an option! Sean and I have told her that no one really knows what happens after someone dies. A lot of people have ideas but no one can be certain. I have told her, though, that dying is okay. It's a natural thing that everyone will experience. It can be sad. It can be hard. But, in the end, it's okay.
This is a conversation we've had to have this week. My grandmother showed the earliest stages of congestive heart failure a few weeks ago. Last weekend she went into the hospital and was admitted for pneumonia. The next day, however, she was released as "fine other than being 90". When she got to my aunt's house, my grandmother sat down for a long talk.
She says it's near time.
When my grandfather died 7 years ago, Grandma had a dream of him in his prime. In her dream he showed her a lovely place, green and lush. She could hear the sounds of hammers striking wood. Grandpa showed her that he was helping to build Their House on the other side. So, every now and again, Grandma will dream of him and the house is closer and closer to completion. She says the last time she saw it there wasn't much more, just that they weren't quite ready for her to hang pictures yet. *grin* When I talked to her yesterday, she said it's almost time to go see Grandpa and the house.
That's okay. She's lived a long life. She's ready. It's okay.
Today she's doing a lot better. Up and moving. Not hurting all over. Still very tired, but that's par for the course at this point.
I haven't seen her since 2007 (when I was back home again in Indiana for my other grandmother's funeral). She's met my daughter and husband. But, I want to go home. I want to see her and hug her and tell her I love her one more time. It's a rare opportunity to be able to say goodbye on good, healthy terms. She's not suffering. She's not fighting cancer or in the last stages of something like diabetes. She's got all of her faculties (well, as much as any of us in that family do). And, this may sound selfish, I don't want to go home for another funeral. Nope. Not doing. I moved away in 2004 and only went back in '07 for a funeral. Nope. Not going back for funerals.
Plans are being made for me to fly away home on a solo expedition. Sean and K have to stay here and keep Phoenix in check. Indy peeps, get ready for massive hugs.
Grubby's story was a great way for me to explain to K what's going on with her great-grandma. It was a good way to approach a very sticky subject. Now, I just have to explain that me being gone for a week or so isn't such a bad thing.
The moral of the story? Hug your family, dammit.
Have a great day, y'all. The kid and I are going to go look at some fish.
EDIT: So, I forgot...while we were outside with Grubby, K essentially crafted a funeral. She said a few words about her "friend", wished the caterpillar sweet dreams, and then piled rocks around the corpse so that "people could find her". I melted. That is all.