(This was originally attempted to be posted on June 15, before we received our bad news about Nathan's bone marrow relapse, but I had trouble getting the post to publish that day.)
Nathan turns 6 tomorrow and has been fighting cancer for over 3 years. We have never had the conversation with him or Julia (4) that cancer could cause him to die. They have asked the normal age-appropriate questions about death. We have explained simple things like some people die in accidents, and that some people die because of serious illness. We have explained that, yes, sometimes children die. They know, obviously, that Nathan has cancer and that it is a serious illness/disease. They know that illness can cause people to die. And they know that sometimes children die. They are smart enough to put it together and have been for some time. They have never taken it to the next step though and asked whether or not Nathan might die because of his cancer. So far our philosophy has been to let them dictate what they were really ready to learn and understand based on their questions. I suppose at some point this approach may have to change. First and foremost, I think they know now. If they don't, they are purposefully not letting themselves make the connection. The other big thing is that I'm now afraid what they may hear and learn from other kids now that they are in school and involved in other venues around large numbers of other children.
On the way to the airport to pick up her big brother after he just got scanned to check for relapse, Julia said to me out of the blue, "Sometimes kids die". I asked her why she was thinking about that. She said she didn't know. I just think that she didn't really want to acknowledge the reason. Later on in the drive she said to me, "Daddy, I love you. I'll love you forever. Even after you die."
Heavy times in the Gentry household.