July 11th
If Emily looks older in the above picture than she did yesterday, it’s because she’s 5…but it’s also because she learned about Noah today…

I did not intend for it to happen this way, but on the way home from dinner it was just the two of us in the car. (Jason had to leave this afternoon for Chicago.) Anyway, we passed a cemetery and here’s what followed:

Em: Mom, what did they do with Grampa Steve’s body? (She knows her grampa was buried…)

Me: Well, when our spirits leave our body, we die. There is nothing left to tell our heart to pump so our bodies stop working.

Em: Yeah, like when a car runs out of gas and the person has to leave the car and go look for gas. (Said very matter-of-fact)

Me: (In my head: Uh, yeah, you’re so stinking smart!)

Me: That’s right, Em! The car just has to sit there on the side of the road. Anyway, when we know the Lord and our spirit goes to Heaven, our bodies are left here on Earth. Some people bury the person that they loved in a coffin. It’s a long wooden box with fancy pillows in it and they dress the person nicely and put some preservatives in their body because our bodies decompose when our hearts don’t pump our blood. Then they close the box and dig a hole in the ground and cover it up with dirt, grass, flowers and a pretty head stone that says their name and how much they were loved…

Em: (Listening intently…)

Me: And then, well, um…you know how God picked up a handful of dirt and blew life into it and made Adam?

Em: Yeah.

Me: Well, sometimes when people die and their spirits go to Heaven if they loved the Lord, their bodies are put into a big metal box and someone turns a switch that makes it extremely hot and they turn into dust or ash, like Adam. It’s called cremation. There’s a scripture that talks about how we came from dust and to dust we will return. But even when a person is buried they eventually turn to dust, too.

Em: Do you bury the dust?

Me: Well, some people do, but the ashes or dust are put into a bag and then given to the family of the person who died and they decide what to do with them. They can put those ashes in a pretty jar or bury them or spread them on the beach or a garden or in the ocean. Mommy has a dear friend whose husband wanted his ashes to be put into the ocean because that was his favorite place to be. Then, when the waves move throughout the Earth, it’s like his body gets to be a part of it. They are all ways to remember that person.

Em: What did you do with Noah?

Me: (gulp) Well, your daddy and I decided to have Noah’s body cremated.

Em: Even his guts and stomach? You can’t keep those parts in a box…

Me: Even those parts…all of his body, but it all turns to dust. You see, when a person dies, even though we love them soo soo much, we can’t keep part of their body with us, except a lock of hair which I have of Noah’s. So that is why people bury the body of the person they loved or have them cremated. Then they can either go visit where they are buried or have it at their house in a pretty jar or spread their ashes in the ocean, for example, to remember that person…

Em: Where are Noah’s ashes?

Me: Do you remember the day we left for South Dakota when daddy needed to run an errand by himself?

Em: Yes.

Me: Well, your daddy was picking up Noah’s ashes. I know it took a long time, but we were too sad to do it until then. They are in a bag in a sweet wooden box that has his name on it and a teddy bear…

Em: Wow! I can’t believe his ashes fit in a small little box! I want to see it…

Me: It’s at home in Noah’s room. I’ll show you when we get home, sweetie.

Em: I want to keep Noah’s dust with us. I don’t want to throw him in the ocean or sprinkle him in different places.

Me: Okay. (Now going with the flow, different from original plan…) We’ll keep his ashes altogether with us…

Me: Em, what do you think about all this?

Em: It’s okay. I think we should just leave it like you did it…

Me: (Yeah…pretty much have to since these things are irreversible!)

So, I talked to Jason tonight and told him about our conversation. He felt badly that I had to do it alone, but I told him it seemed to turn out okay, better than the day we got home from the hospital and he started to tell her about a big oven! Em had asked Jason what they did with his body at the hospital. She said, “Did they throw his body in the trash can?” We told her ‘No’, but then Jason started to tell her about a big oven. I gave him a serious elbow in the ribs and whispered in his ear that you put cookies in an oven, not a little brother! She lost interest and went and played with her aunts and uncles…

Now she knows…she seemed to be at peace with it all. I guess I didn’t know when we’d have to explain cremation, but knowing her, I knew it would be sooner than later.


25 Responses

  1. Wow, Ade~you are an amazing mother!! Your words to Em are so perfect!!!! I hope you are enjoying your trip! I love the pictures. Thank you for being such a Godly example. Sending prayers from Michigan.

  2. you did a great job explaining things to her and being honest without scaring, or shocking her. she is so intelligent that i have a feeling that you explain much to her little mind that other five year olds wouldn’t even think to ask!

    happy birthday to the princess!

  3. Adrienne, wow you always blow me away! Thanks for reminding me to take the time to help our kiddos understand life! I hope you are having a wonderful day and that Em enjoys her second day being five! Love you all… Wendy

  4. Adrienne,
    You have the most wonderful way with words. You know how to explain the truth to children without instilling fear or doubt. You are an amazing mom and Noah and Em are so lucky to have you. Em isa very special little girl, you are doing a great job!

  5. Hi Adrienne,

    I came across your blog by accident a few months ago, ever since I haven’t stopped checking back to visit. You are an amazing woman, definitely making your Heavenly Father proud of his daughter, and 1 little Noah very proud of his mommy.

    Your strength, courage, and love for God and family is magnetic. Your sharing the life and blessing of your son draws strangers like myself in to be inspired by your family and the life and spirit of Noah.

    Thank You.

    I have read most of your entries and have smiled and cried while looking at the pictures you’ve posted. How truly blessed are those that are lucky enough to know you in person and be your friend.

    I humbly ask if you would recap the story of Noah. I dont understand what caused him to become ill?…or what symptoms lead him to become hospitalized in the begining? Did the doctors never find out why?

    I’ve read many of your posts but I dont know where it starts… except with the birth of such a special baby boy to a very special family.

    I will keep checking back. Know that you have friends in the world that you dont even realize.

    Many Hugs and Prayers.

  6. Adrienne,
    You never cease to amaze me with your knowledge of words. God was certainly guiding you as you explained things to Emily and I just know Noah was watching you saying “Go Mom”! I know he is so proud of the way you handle yourself.

  7. So neat, Ade! Em reminds me so much of my Noah. These amazing minds the Lord has given them – sometimes assimilating and understanding things that some adults don’t even grasp, or at least take note of. I do hope we can all meet one day before long! Many blessings to you today.

    Love in Christ,
    Jodie R

  8. Happy Birthday, Emily!

    Adrienne, you explained that beautifully. Isn’t it wonderful how the Holy Spirit gives us words when we think we don’t know what to say? Emily is one smart little girl. And a blessed one, as well.

  9. Wow, what a sweet and sensitive little girl you two are raising! 🙂 That must have been a difficult conversation, but you handled it so well! God always gives us the words when we really need them, doesn’t He?

  10. You description is quite extraordinary. What a perfect way to explain death and how we deal with bodies here on earth. What an inspiration you are and how well you state the hard truth of things…so gently and well understood. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with me. Your strength and courage have given so many hope. I truly pray that one day our paths will cross and I can meet you face to face; spirit to spirit.

  11. I don’t think you could have explained it any better to Emily. She is so intelligent and so bright…I love how inquisitive she is and how she is so understanding…I believe she gets that from her wonderful parents! Hope she had a wonderful birthday!

  12. You are amazing, Adrienne. Em is something else, what a perceptive and bright little girl. You did one heck of a job thinking about a difficult topic and delivering a meaningful explaination on the fly.

    I hope Miss Em had a fantastic b-day … and do you realize what an special person YOU are? You are a rock for so many of us …

  13. Adrienne,

    I have been reading your blog for awhile. When I first found it I was captivated by your story and read the whole thing in one sitting (with a box of kleenex).

    I too have explained the process of cremation to a young child, which is a tough one.

    You and Jason seem like such amazing people. May the Lord continue to bless your family.

    Happy belated birthday Em!!

    Amy – Indiana

  14. Happy Birthday to Em! I was nervous FOR you reading that conversation. But it sounds like it went great.

    Say a prayer for the Mays family, if you think of them. Allen Mays was an elder in our church, and he and his 12 yr old son were killed in a car accident on Sunday. His wife Rachel taught my 2 yr old’s Sunday School class all year last year, and their daughter Tabby is in 5th grade, like my Anna (I taught their class a couple years ago). The funeral was today, and it really was very uplifting (though heart-wrenching). Allen (the Dad) and Madison (the son) both really loved the Lord. In fact, Madison just made a profession of faith 3 weeks ago, after a church camp. We don’t grieve as those without hope, but I can’t imagine the pain that Rachel and little Tabby are going through right now.

  15. Amazing. I hope I can only be 1/2 as eloquent with the “tough questions”.

    Great pictures too… hope you all are enjoying yourselves!

  16. Very sweet! Check my blog when you get a chance ( you have received a reward). I never make comments but I read daily! Thanks for sharing your journey with us all!

  17. You are amazing…So eloquent and yet without sacrificing honesty. I hope one day I can be as graceful and true with my 11 month old daughter as you are with Emily.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us…

  18. I really just don’t know how you do it. You are so wise and genuine. You are such a great mom to Em…even though I’m sure your heart is breaking inside as you talk about these things. God bless you for the love you give your children.

  19. You are such an incredible person. Your strength and humbleness has helped me in so many ways. I found your blog through a friend of mine’s blog and read it from time to time. It is always so encouraging and touches my heart.

    God Bless You,
    Rachael, Alabama

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