My five-year-old son has been interested in looking at all our photo books lately. He likes to point to pictures of his great grandma and great grandpa and ask who they are. I have explained they are no longer with us, that they are somewhere in heaven.
"Where's heaven?" He asked so innocently I had to smile.
"It's a place we go to when we die," I said.
He then asked about his other grandpa, the one he never met.
My daughters, who are older, never had the chance to meet him either. "He's in heaven, too. I bet he's looking down at us." That was the best I could say. Our loved ones may be gone but what they meant to us always remains, like the ghost of a memory growing misty over time.
"Can I die too, so I can go to heaven and see them?" He asked.
What can a parent say to that? It took me a while to find a proper answer. "Not yet," I said, "when it's your time."
I think my words were enough for him. I hope they were.
He smiled and seemed satisfied. "I love you, mom," he said and left the kitchen.
These moments, even if I'm at a loss for a good explanation or answer, are special. They make me appreciate the innocence of childhood.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.
And to my dad, I hope that wherever you are Johnny Mathis songs are playing and you have a hard surface to tap your fingers along to the beat. You are missed.