When Mr. Bagel-Eyes lost his nose on day three, Mr. Pants came to me with urgency. I was to call Dr. Sarah (our family doctor) to help him. Mr. Bagel-Eye's nose was broken. So I did what any mama worth her salt would do. I called the doctor on our Elmo phone. I received my instructions and quickly ran out into the cold to replace and set his nose. Crisis averted.
But there was another crisis coming and it was one that mama would not be unable to fix. There would be no rescue from Dr. Sarah. Even Daddy, who can fix anything, would not be able to save him. No one could. Because no one can stop the sun and the rain.
I held him. I tried to explain that Mr. Bagel-Eyes comes back when it snows. That he wasn't hurting, only melting into water to help the grass grow. Anger washed over him, "I don WAN GRASS!!!!!" I was talking too much. So I closed my explain-y mouth and opened my soothing one. And I just kept holding him. I just let him cry and be sad. And when Daddy woke up, he did the same.
Isn't that how we all grieve?
Daddy and I went back on forth on how to proceed. Our desire to demolish Mr. Bagel-Eyes' final remains to get it all over with was weighed against the very real probability that it would look as though his parents, in whom he placed his trust, were, in fact, murdering his friend. So, yeah, we didn't do that. Instead we talked about his snowman friend with him every time he brought it up. We sat with him in the window and let him ask questions about the rain and snow. And slowly, so so slowly, he was able to start living his life again. He would play and be his regular self. Every so often returning to the window to check back in with his friend. His words became more hopeful. He talked about it snowing again. And as the day pressed on, we realized he was working through it. He had gone through the hardest part.
When the time came we took a deep breath and walked out the door. He stopped. My heart sank. He walked over to what was left of Mr. Bagel-Eyes. He was quiet. Then he said to me in a quiet voice, "Mama, he broken. He sad." "He melted, buddy. Do you want to tell him goodbye?" and then my sweet boy placed his hand on his friend and what he said next squeezed my heart and made me have to fight back the mama tears. He said "I wuv you, buddy. A rain no hurt you no more, ok? Ah bye-bye." Then he turned to me and said, "Mama, a go to school."
And with that, we left.
We talked about his friend on the way to school and how we can make another snowman when it snows. How snowmen love the snow because that's their habitat. And he listened to me. He was ready to talk about it. He was through his stages of grief. And I was moved by my three year-old's ability to process his first real loss. It might seem silly but Mr. Bagel-Eyes wasn't just a snowman to Mr. Pants. He was his friend.
And Mr. Pants wasn't the only one that learned a lesson here. Daddy and I did, too. We were reminded that the feelings our children feel are so very real. No matter the reason. No matter how childish the situtation may seem to an adult. They are real and should be treated with respect and compassion. They should be honored. Always.
Oh and what else did we learn?
Do. not. ever. build a snowman that can be seen from the front window of the house. Because, mother hell, it's hard to watch a friend melt away.