Big Girl and I were in my bathroom on Monday morning. I was brushing her hair, and Two was over by the window, watching the dogs play in the back yard. Two named both of the dogs, and Big Girl was quiet for a moment. Then she asked, "Mommy? Where's Rusty?"
She hasn't mentioned Rusty in several months. Rusty was our Brittany, adopted shortly after Hubs and I got married, and he passed away last summer. Big Girl has mentioned Rusty, less frequently with the passing months, but has never asked so directly about him since he died.
I froze for a moment. I didn't know how to explain it to her, because she hadn't really understood death when Rusty died last year, or when my grandfather passed away a few months ago. I had managed to skirt the topic so far, but she wanted an answer. Sooo...
"Rusty went to heaven to live with God. God knew he was a really good dog, and he needed a good dog to help him and keep him company in heaven. So he called for Rusty to come there with him."
I know that's not exactly the way a minister might explain it. I know the idea of animals in heaven isn't exactly in line with Scripture. But Rusty? If any dog would make the cut and get to heaven, he would. This just felt right when I said it, so I went with it.
Big Girl thought for a minute, and then she looked sad, ever so briefly, and burst into tears. I felt wretched when she started crying. I picked her up and she just sobbed, "I miss Rusty." When I told her that I miss him too, the crying just got louder. I had a hard time not crying myself, but I forced myself not to - she gets really upset by the sight of me crying. I managed to soothe her, and she stopped crying and I changed the subject.
She spend most of the day at my parents' house while I was working. Rusty apparently came up several times in conversation. I had told my parents what I told her, so they stuck to my story. Apparently Big Girl asked my mom if God might send Rusty back to her, if he finished with his work in heaven.