The saga continued...
So, we get home from the vet, Gacy on Dollface's lap, wrapped in a baby blanket and placed lovingly in an attractive box with a beveled lid.
I went into the house and take Jaysen aside. I explained that Gacy died (I couldn't bring myself to use the word "dead" for some reason). I waited for his reaction. He didn't give me much to go on. I told Jaysen that it would be nice if we drew some pictures for Gacy, and collected some things that he might like.
Should he be a part of the burial? Should I let him see Gacy?
We drew pictures, and talked about Gacy and the good times we've had together. Jaysen asked where he was. I told him he was in a box in the back yard, and we were going to bury him. He wanted to see the box.
We went outside and knelt by his makeshift coffin. I explained that Gacy was inside of the box, because he died, and we were going to dig a hole to put the box in. Jaysen wanted to see Gacy. I told him again that Gacy was dead (there, I said it), and if he wanted to see him, he could, but that Gacy was not going to move around. He still wanted to see.
Figuring that he was put to sleep, and not ran over by a car, so there was no "gore factor", I cautiously lifted the lid, and pulled back the blanket. Jaysen just looked at him.
"Gacy is eyes closed?"
"Yes, Gacy's eyes are closed."
"No, he's not sleeping. He died, honey."
"Ooooh." (long pause) "Goodbyyyyeee Gacy."
I hate when people refer to death as "sleeping". I think it's confusing, and scary. I didn't want Jaysen to think that when he fell asleep, there was a chance Mommy would put him in a hole and bury him.
Jaysen decided he wanted to be involved. He helped dig the grave. He helped me place the box into the hole. He helped cover it back up.
Later that night...
"Mommy, where's Gacy?"
"Remember, he died. He was in the box, we dug a hole, and we buried him."
"Yeah. He died. (long pause) Like my fish."
He was processing!
"Yes, honey, Gacy died, just like your fish."
"We flush a fish inna toilet."
"Yes. We flushed the fish down the toilet. We buried Gacy."
"Ooooh. Goodbyyyeee Gacy."
I think he got it.
In hindsight, I really think I did the best job I could trying to explain the whole death and dying thing to him. Jaysen's a visual learner, so he needed to see it. It helped him understand. I don't know if he understood the whole concept, but at least he related it to his fish, and he knows the fish haven't come back.
My son also amazes me with his empathy. All the day while I was sobbing, he would touch my face and say things like, "Don't cry, Mommy. I'll make you feel better." Which of course just made me cry harder, because it touched me so much. He made sure to wipe my tears away, and when another one rolled down my cheek, he ran for a Kleenex and said "Oops, I forgot one!" He is just the most amazing gift in my life. He has absolutely been my strength these past couple of days.
So, rest in peace my sweet Gacy. We love you and will miss you dearly. And in the words of your buddy, Jaysen-