Does My Son Understand Death

I lost my dad a few days ago. It is a hard time for my family. My aunts, uncles, cousins are all here to offer their condolences and support the family.
A time to reflect, to let go, and reach higher levels of understanding.

In the midst of all this, a well meaning aunt asks me if my son, Mohit ‘understands’ the situation. He is 25, on the Autism Spectrum and communicates his needs using words and short sentences.
“Well”, I say, “I did tell him when dad was admitted to ICU. He tapped my head a couple of times- as if in blessing.”

“Oh, okay…” says my aunt

“Then when dad passed away, I held him close and told him. He looked deep into my eyes and smiled at me, as if he was comforting me.”

Aunty nods.

“When he came to dad’s home, he went straight to his favorite sofa and announced that he wanted to eat ‘seera prasad’ (halva). This was dad’s absolute favorite too,”

“Oh really?” says Aunty.

“When dad’s body was brought home, Mohit sat at his side and touched him gently.
When my husband asked him to take dad’s blessings, he touched dad’s feet,” I say emotionally.

“Hmmm,” says Aunty

“The last moment, when we all were paying our final respects, Mohit did too. He bowed down, touched dad’s feet offered flowers, just like all of us.” I say proudly.

Aunty nods, again.

“At the prayer meeting, in a gathering of 500 people, Mohit stood in line with the rest of the family members, folded his hands and accepted condolences,” I say, very proudly!

“But I heard him make some strange sounds, and also ask for mithai and kaju? Does he really understand?” questions Aunty.

I’m screaming- in my head now, “ Aunty! Aunty! Aunty! Do you know what a long way this young man has come? Do you know what it means for him to be in a huge crowd like this, not protesting but smiling, happy? How meaningful and emotional, that he took part in each and every function, a wonderful grandson to his magnificent grandfather. Aunty, do you know how happy dad would have been?”

And this time, I say…nothing.

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