This week I said goodbye to a friend who was taken too soon. A friend who brought light to the lives of so many (the fact that neither the Church nor the Hall could hold all the funeral goers is testament to that). As I remember him and regret that mini-me didn’t get to know him better I wonder, not for the first time; How much of the cold harsh reality of life should we share with our little ones?
How much do they need to know and at what age do we turn the Fairy lights off?
If you know me (it’s Leah) you’ll know that I live in a world where Unicorns being real is definitely a possibility, some would call it a bubble, others would call it avoidance. I call it my happy place, a place within the madness where I can exist without carrying around all the worlds’ bullshit. But a place like that isn’t a place where the people that you love get c****r or your Brother get’s stabbed breaking up a fight, but the harsh reality is shit happens!
When my Brother was stabbed we didn’t tell his Children or my Daughter, we didn’t want them to know that by trying to help, you can end up being the injured party. That going with your instincts and defending somebody could wind up with you being stitched up while the parties that were fighting walk away. Thankfully it wasn’t too serious, but when he had to return to Hospital due to complications I did wonder “What if it goes bad and they didn’t get to say Goodbye because we didn’t tell them anything was wrong”? Should we have told them, panicked them, made them afraid of the world outside of home just in case it went wrong? Stolen a piece of their innocence and shortened their childhoods even sooner than they’re already being shortened?
Once you know something like that you can’t un-know it and it stays with you forever.
When my friend passed away I told my Daughter. I told her how much he had meant to me while I was growing up and how he had helped me become a more confident/outgoing person when I first met him at the local Youth centre and then when I went on to work with him. I told her he died too soon. I didn’t tell her he died from c****r. I didn’t tell her that he had battled it for 4 years and had been in pain for most of it. I shielded her from the worst of it because she is 10 and Unicorns and Fairies should rule at this stage of her life. I want her to not be scared of the world, but ultimately we’re all gonna die right it’s the one thing we can be certain of and sometimes innocent people get hurt. And while she obviously knows about death and the bastard that is c****r there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to mention it, ever and just pretend that these things don’t happen, safe in my Bubble with the Unicorns and Leprechauns.
I know I have to face the harsh realities, but surely Childhood should be unadulterated joy!