Carrying love

Nesta (Kittycat), basking in the sunshine

Occasionally, I interview the children. I ask questions and share what they say with their parents as a way to help us all understand how children relate to their experiences.

“How do you know your Dad loves you?” 

I sat in the rocking chair in the backyard at Starr’s House while Brennyn skipped a circle, hopped over a rock, and smiled broadly before stopping in front of me to reply, “Because he died and now he’s in my heart."

Later, I asked the director of the school, “Did Brennyn’s dad die?” He did. I didn’t know. 

Brennyn’s response reminds me of the day Carly, our class gerbil, died. We found her when we arrived for class and placed a polka-dot-patterned doll blanket over her. We told the children what happened and invited them to gather in a circle around her to say goodbye. Carly’s face peeked out from the cover.  The children took turns appreciating her.

“Carly, you were a nice pet.”

“Tell God hello.”

“I liked watching you exercise.”

Then Tomas threw up. One of us helped Tomas. The other children accepted this and continued.

“I thought you were a hamster, Carly.”

“I’ll always love you.”

“Now you’re in our heart, Carly,” said Maxwell.

After all of us said what we needed to say, we went back to circle. One of the children suggested we sing, “I love my Montessori Classroom.” We sang. Then we buried Carly outside our classroom window. 

I'm thinking of my cat Nesta, who passed peacefully today. She was 21 years old. Found on the street and named Nesta by my daughter Erin.

Pets provide opportunities to practice loving, letting go, and accepting the cycle of life. 

I know what Brennan and Maxwell mean when they say we carry those we love in our hearts. I feel that about my son, who died six years ago, and since that experience, I understand better that I carry all the love I have for others with me, including sweet, gentle Nesta.