Beck (my nephew, almost 3, says “Jesus Christ ” a lot and recently discovered the word “buttsniffer”) loved Marley. He loves pretty much all animals, but Marley was Beck-sized and never had a problem with him grabbing her fur and trying to kiss her all the time. My sister prepped Beck for the news about Marley, so when he saw me the other night, he was all over it.
“Are you sad?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m sad.”
“Because I miss Marley.”
“Is she in the sky with Tony* and Papa**?”
“Yeah, they’re taking care of her now.”
Beck thinks for a moment. He’s the most obvious thinker on the planet. He actually looks like this, and it’s completely un-posed:
Then he asks, “Are there fences in heaven?”
Oh jeez. I never spent much time around kids, so all those weirdo questions that people say they ask didn’t so much affect me. I thought they were funny, but never did it occur to me that I would actually have to think up answers for them.
“Uh, probably,” I answer. “But only if someone wants to have them. Having what you want is kind of the point of Heaven.”
“Does Marley have fences in Heaven?”
“Um. Well. I don’t think she wants them. So probably not. She can run around all she wants now.”
“Why doesn’t she have fences?”
(Permanent Lesson Involving Kids #1: there is no simple answer to anything. Attached to every question, every time, is a “why?”. Kids are the enemies of lazy statements.)
“Well,” I began, “Think about it. If she jumps the fence in heaven, where’s she going to go? More heaven? Big deal.”
Then Beck says something that would break my heart if it weren’t so sweet. He has this ability sometimes. Usually he’s just a 2 1/2-year-old boy who likes to destroy things and make zoo noises, but he’s a smart kid and he’s got some sensitivity gems in his pocket.
“She’ll come back to Tony every day?”
“Yes. She’ll come back every day.”
Later, we played cars. He assigned cars to me, my sister, and himself. The last car was apparently Marley’s. Beck didn’t want any other cars hitting hers, so he tug-boated her around and told her he would teach her how to drive. Then he screamed at my sister’s car for not using the blinker.
*Tony was my mother’s boyfriend and another object of Beck’s obsession. He unexpectedly died less than a year ago and was Beck’s first real lesson about death.
**Papa was my grandfather, Beck’s great-grandfather, who died when Beck was too little to really know who he was. He was used to illustrate the Tony lesson, I guess because Tony needed someone to hang out with in the sky.
(Ahem… I’m sorry to keep writing about this dog. You have to understand, though. She was, like, the greatest dog in the universe, and it was way before her time. Now that you understand, I promise to keep this stuff at a minimum of mentions in other stuff.)