Life and Death and the Meaning of Easter

I’ve been trying to explain to the girls for the past few years about the meaning of Good Friday and Easter. Not just Jesus, but death in general. You see, the girls have never experienced a death in the family. Camryn recently had a classmate die due to asthma complications and that was difficult to explain, especially the finality of death, the transfer of the soul to heaven, and the body that remains on Earth.

It’s not an easy concept to grasp. For anyone. The kids have never experienced a death in the family. Until today.

One of our barn cats died last night sometime. And Camryn found him. Dips was laying on the driveway by the garage, unresponsive. Crying hysterically, she ran into the house, telling me he’s just laying there and won’t get up. I ran outside with both kids and went to Dips. It was too late. Way too late. He was already stiff with cloudy eyes. He’d been dead for a while. I had to answer why I didn’t call our vet to help him. I had to answer why he died. I had to answer why he didn’t cry for help. I had to answer lots more whys.

I wasn’t very good at it. We’ve told our kids that our barn cats have a good chance of death or disappearance out here. And we started that as soon as we got them. There’s always a chance that one day you’ll just never see the barn cat again out here. The kids knew that death was a possibility as we’ve candidly spoke about death over the years. But because they’ve never experienced  it, the concept was always abstract.

Dips was cool as shit, pardon my French. Just take a look.

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He was about 6 or 7 months old. And you could call him, and our other barn cat, Chips, like a dog. They’d come right up and sit on your lap and expect affection just like a dog. Dips was a hot mess with his long hair, his affection for hunting, and bringing dead animals into the barn to eat in front of a live audience. He even went on a Steed Tile work trip recently. The people-averse cat turned into quite the ham with his family. He certainly loved his humans. And we loved him.

The girls cried a bunch today. I pretty much held it together until they started to write  letters to put in his box when we buried him. They were so sweet and heart-felt. And for the first time, the girls understood the finality of death. So I cried. I cried for them. I cried for Dips. I cried for his brother, Chips, who is now awfully lonely.

But it’s Easter. And as I’ve been trying to teach the girls about death, souls, resurrection, and heaven, Dips dies. And I now have something very concrete to explain it to them. And they get it, and it hurts. And they cry. And I cry for them, with them. As Dips’ soul goes to heaven with the notes and toys we’ve buried with him, the kids understand now eternal life, and the death of a body and not a soul. Because like I said, Dips was the shit.

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