Yesterday was a blur. Despite my intentions to get some rest after learning the news, I wasn't able to sleep. I ended up lying on the couch, closing my eyes and desperately trying to escape the reality of the news I was trying to absorb. Eventually I gave up and began to drink copious amounts of coffee.
As my mind was swirling, it dawned on me that I was going to have to break the news to Robby. My little Koopa does not accept change gracefully, and I was dreading breaking his heart. While he knew that his Candy Papaw was ill, Robby was still grasping the hope that he was going to fully recover. In his young mind, any other alternative was unacceptable.
When he finally emerged from his bedroom and curled up on the couch, I could sense that he knew something was amiss. I curled up next to him and began to break the news. He cried, screamed and tried to run away. I let him have a few moments alone, hiding under his covers, but soon went to retrieve him. Although it was a difficult lesson, he also needed to learn that we do not hide from our emotions.
After talking with Robby for awhile and as the news began to sink into reality, it became clear that he was becoming angry. He wasn't angry with his Candy Papaw for dying, but he was furious that his prayers for healing and recovery were not answered. This was the first time that he wanted something so badly and it did not happen, and he was livid.
I tried to explain that prayers were not guarantees, but rather suggestions for how you would like things to happen. God has his own plans and, while praying makes you feel better and will not hurt, it doesn't necessarily mean that God will grant the request. In a way, I explained, prayers are like voting for an outcome. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don't. But either way you have to accept the result and make the best of it.
Robby seemed okay with the explanation, and was actually composed enough to go to school. When I received a phone call from the school a few hours later, I assumed that his grief was manifesting and expected a request to come home. Instead I heard his teacher chuckling.
During circle time, Robby took the opportunity to share his news about his Candy Papaw. After accepting the condolences of his friends, he continued by sharing his new understanding of prayers. "When you pray, it doesn't mean that God will do what you wanted. Think of prayer like Congress. Sometimes it doesn't really matter how you vote because they are going to do what they want."
Somehow, I knew that his Candy Papaw was smiling.