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Nightmares

June 8, 2011

Last night, AJ woke me up at 4 a.m., sobbing.

“I dreamed that Mr. and Mrs. Stein came back and I was really happy and then all of a sudden they were gone.”

Mrs. Stein is still a big hole in our life, especially for AJ. When you don’t have a sibling, a pet is, I think, even more important to you. She’s your friend, your companion, your comrade-in-arms. AJ’s fish are “nice and swimmy,” as he used to say, but they are not really the same thing as a fuzzy cat that sleeps at the foot of your bed or in your beanbag chair while you do your homework and plays with you sometimes.

Death seems to be occupying AJs mind lately. One of the things he brought home this week, was a journal he’s been writing in at school all year. One of the things in it was a list of the 10 best and worst things that had happened to him:

10 best:
1. won basketball tournament
2. went to [grandparents’ house near the beach]
3. went to [grandparents’ house in the mountains]
4. being born
5. moving to [town we live in]
6. getting Wii/Xbox
7. getting cats [For the record, he doesn’t remember getting cats. They predated him by many years.
8. playing football
9. getting fish
10. met The Boy Across The Street

10 Worst:
1. coach tripped me during baseball game
2. got surgery
3. cat dies [he’s talking about Mr. Stein, who died when he was, I think, 3; this was written before Mrs. Stein’s death]
4. never getting to see my grandpa [I think he’s talking about Mr. Spy’s dad, who died when Mr. Spy was in college]
5. gifted program ending
6. dying in the future
7. going to school
8. falling off golf cart [Note to self: must remember to ask him about this. It didn’t happen on my watch.]
9. Falling down the stairs
10. being alive (see above)

I asked him about that last one, which alarmed me somewhat, but he said he meant he was happy to be alive after falling down the stairs. He just forgot what list he was writing for a minute. I do like that he had to mine future events for bad things that had happened (“dying in the future”).

A few days later, they had to write a list of things they wondered about and then pick one and write about it. Here is AJ’s list:

I wonder…how someone found out that our bodies are 70% water.

I wonder…what you see when you die.

I wonder…(and hope) if there is life after death.

I wonder…how a radar measures your speed.

And here’s what he wrote about:

I wonder what it feels like to be dead. You’d think it has to feel like something. Is it just black, or seeing stars, or up to heaven, or what? It must be scary. Unless you go to heaven. Then it’s awesome. Then again, what does heaven look like? A reincarnation, or like you walk on clouds like in cartoons? I hope there is a heaven.

This may make AJ sound like a morbid kid, and he’s really not one. He’s a kid who worries, a kid who doesn’t trust things he can’t explain, a kid who stews about things that don’t make sense until they turn into either answers or anxiety. I can’t imagine where he gets that from.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2011 9:22 am

    I think anxiety comes along with the intelligent and sensitive package.
    You know, I’m a big advocate of getting another pet. A new one won’t “replace” Mrs. Stein, but there are so many cats (and kittens, this time of year) who need homes and don’t have them.

  2. June 8, 2011 10:47 am

    He doesn’t sound morbid, he sounds brilliant, and like maybe he has some stuff he just can’t quite wrap his head around at the moment so he’s working it out.

    Not for nothing, but he also sounds like a kid who might be in dire need of a corgi. Just saying.

  3. freshhell permalink
    June 8, 2011 11:24 am

    Poor guy. Losing any member of the family, be it covered in skin or fur, is hard. As is growing up. And it doesn’t get any better.

  4. June 8, 2011 11:59 am

    Dave, I am certain that AJ would agree with you about a Corgi. This boy is in serious want of a dog. I’m just not sure I’m ready quite yet.

  5. freshhell permalink
    June 8, 2011 4:14 pm

    When Dusty and I visited the Humane Society, I did notice that the smaller dogs were MUCH LOUDER than the big ones. We did see a cute circus terrier who kept leaping up in the air to get our attention. I felt bad for him because we are cat people. But he was cute. Maybe AJ needs a pug? My sister would come over and take care of him.

  6. June 8, 2011 6:17 pm

    Oh, that dream made me tear up, probably because I have dreams like that about my dad and my brother. I think wondering about death is normal for kids, and the sadness and anxiety surrounding the illness or death of a family member or pet could certainly set a child’s mind to wondering….The charges lost two grandparents within a 6-mo. period a few years ago, and we still have conversations about them, where they might be, what heaven is like, etc. etc. I am sorry AJ is grieving, but I am glad his rational mind is trying to make sense of it as well.

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