But in one corner of my broken heart, I have to admit that I am just a little bit jealous.
Because as terrifying and impossible as these conversations are, my friend knows that her little girl is ok with leaving. That she has faith that she will escape her tired body to a better place and that they will not be truly separated.
I was too scared and too shell shocked to have those conversations with Zoe.
With such a short time left, I thought that she would be terrified to be leaving us, so we made the decision not to tell her she was dying. Perhaps if we had talked about the concepts earlier, it would have been different. While it might sound like I was living in denial, with Zoe in remission for over two years, I thought we could breathe again, that we had a long time left to us to talk about the concepts of dying and God and Heaven as they arose naturally. Zoe had only a few weeks previously informed me in a brief conversation that she knew people could die of cancer and that she believed people went to Heaven to be with God when they died.
After she died and when the fog of those few weeks began to lift, I began to be wracked by guilt. What if we made the wrong decision? What if Zoe did know she was dying, but didn’t talk to us about it because she wanted to protect us from sorrow? What if she felt alone and scared in her knowledge?
What if my failure to adequately care for her soul meant she did not go to heaven?
While I have not completely let go of this guilt, I have come to come to the conclusion that the God I believe in doesn’t punish six year old children for their mothers’ spiritual failures. That He sees us and understands our fears, doubts, failures and imperfections. And most of all that He welcomed Zoe to Heaven, as promised in the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”. Then he put his arms around them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.
I haven’t had any phone calls from Heaven yet. But like my friend, I will spend the rest of my life listening out for them.