Simon looked very tiny sitting on the edge of the three-seater couch in my counselling office. His feet dangled well above above the floor, and the New York Mets baseball cap, likely not his own, completely covered both his ears. His face was wan, but his eyes were bright and curious as they peered at me from under the wide cobalt blue peak.
Simon had just turned six years old and his Dad had been admitted to the hospice with end stage colon cancer the day before. Sally had phoned to ask if I would see Simon, because he had questions about dying that she didn’t know how to answer.
“Where did you get your Mets baseball cap?” I asked.
“From my Dad,” he said. “For my birthday.”
“Do you play baseball?”
“Does your Dad play?” I asked.
“He did, but now he’s sick.” He paused, looking down at his runners, his hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans. He lifted his head and asked. “Where is heaven?”
“I wish I knew the answer to that question.” I said. “No one really knows where heaven is.”
“Mum told me heaven is way, way up in the sky, higher than the airplanes, higher than the sun and the moon,” he said. “She says it’s a nice place, where Dad won’t be sick anymore.” He smiled a thin smile.
“I’m sorry your Dad is sick and can’t play baseball with you anymore,” I said.
“Me too.” His eyes began to water. “Will he be able to play baseball in heaven?”
“I don’t know, but I hope so, don’t you?” I said.
“Yup...Mom said you don’t have a body in heaven,” Simon said.
“That’s right. When we die, our bodies stop working and we have no more thoughts or feelings.”
“Where does the body go?” he asked.
“The body is either put in a wooden box called a coffin, and then buried in the ground, where the earth keeps it safe, or the body is cremated, which means it is put into a fire until it becomes ashes. The ashes are then sometimes scattered in a place that is special to the family, like the ocean, or on the top of a mountain, or the ashes are buried, like the coffin, in the ground.” Simon was listening intently.
“So, if you don’t have a body when you go to heaven, how do you keep your baseball glove on?” he asked.
“Good question,” I said.