These are the words that make me cry Friday night in the middle of “The Lion King.” I took the twins to see the performance at The Denver Center for Performing Arts. We might just be the only people in America who haven’t seen “The Ling King” in some iteration but there’s a reason. Seven years after their dad died, my children are only now able to bear the story of Simba’s pain over losing his beloved father and king, Mufusa. Like Simba, Casey and Rebecca’s lives have been forever altered and frankly, they don’t like to be reminded of their loss.
It’s not just “The Lion King” that they shrink from: any book, cartoon, movie or discussion involving illness, death, abduction, or darkness of any kind causes them to have one of two reactions: they either cower into my lap (this is what Casey does the other night when Mufusa dies) or they puff up and refute the subject altogether, which leads to “I don’t want to see that, I don’t want to read that, I don’t want to go there.”
In this way, I recognize how different my children are from most. And you’d be surprised to learn how challenging it can be for a parent to avoid these pitfalls, even in innocuous settings like bookstores and libraries. Case in point: our school librarian, a sharp and caring gal, sometimes says, “What about this one?” without making the connection between print and reality. And why should she? For most people, adults and children, this is unfamiliar territory.
And yet for us, it’s slippery terrain. Because as much as my children have processed their loss (through therapy, time and love), these are hard minefields to avoid. Try as I might, I really can’t anticipate every hurt, every book, every dark conversation. I do what I can, understanding at the same time that minefields offer opportunities for growth.
We’re at that stage right now where I feel that Casey and Rebecca are ready to step.
He lives in you
He lives in me
He watches over
Everything we see
Into the water
Into the truth
In your reflection
He lives in you
This is what I tell Rebecca in answer to her question, “Momma, what is a soul?”