I have a theory that I should always be honest when discussing anything with my children…which I instantly regret when put upon to chat about the end of life as we know it with two six-year olds. However, I have to be realistic to them and to myself – death is part of life.
One fateful day this August we fell upon Sunny; a tiny fluffy hen chick racing down an empty lane towards, apparently, nowhere. My daughter picked him up and…instantly fell in love. As did her twin brother and younger sister. We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to locate Sunny’s mother, siblings, the farm or house he came from, but, alas, no-one seemed to own him.
So, we realised, he was now our responsibility. We got a box, some hay, a sheepskin, some water – mashed some vegetables up, we tried, in vain, to feed him, to make him drink water. We shone a lamp on him to keep him warm, we wrapped him in wool but alas all to no avail – Sunny cheeped endlessly for his mother. My daughter, miraculously, managed to get him to sleep and we all went to bed worrying for his welfare.
The morning brought us terrible news, Sunny could barely stand, he was bedraggled and, quite simply, dying – he held out most of the day until he finally surrendered and departed this life.
Blimey – what a black day that was.
So we had our first taste of death and Felix (6yrs) was distraught, Millie his twin sister appeared more tough and Betty their 3yr sister wondered why Sunny slept all the time.
We created, naturally, a shoe box tomb. Filled it with pictures, a fat ball, a toy soldier to protect him and some wool to keep him warm. My children worried desperately about his welfare in death; and heaven and its bouncy fluffy clouds offered them great comfort.
Thank, God – there is some consolation to offer a grieving child. The concept of an all-encompassing god-like father figure out there ready to comfort and cuddle with a whole host of big fluffy clouds for little chicks, and grandpa’s, to bounce on was a great relief all round and helped ease the pain of their new-found grief.
If only, I wish to myself, as my father battles against cancer, this could be true.
R.I.P Sunny, bounce on for us.