When my little boy was alive, he made a lot of friends, which is pretty cool for someone who hadn’t even learned how to talk. I guess he just had a lot of natural charm, which I suppose he got from his mother.
There was this family two doors down from us. They were what a lot of people would call rednecks or bogans or white trash or pikeys. Their kids loved Jojo and were round our place all the time. They were 13 and 9 and 6 and 5, although I can’t remember their names, except Kaatje the 6 year old. We used to let them take him for walks, and sometimes we wondered if we were doing the right thing. We were though, they loved him.
They came to the funeral, the whole family, there were more than 20 of them, and they cried, just like we all did. It was nearly Christmas, there was a row of naked silver birch trees outside a large, frosty window, and we all sung Silent Night, although half the people there were German and sung Stille Nacht, it worked rather well though.
Afterwards those kids asked where he was, and even though I was an atheist, I told them that he was up in the sky, with God and that he was happy. “What,” Kaatje asked, “like a balloon?”
“Yeah,” I said, “like a balloon.” and bit my tongue to hold back the tears.
How do you explain the words “gone forever” to a 6 year old? how do explain those words to yourself?