Last night, at the dinner table with Estella, Geoff and I, Kaya let us in on some of those curious questions that children begin to develop about life, and it's unavoidable opposite:
Kaya: (directed at Geoff) Did you have a mama when you were younger?
Very eager to know if she knew who it was, I busted right in with a follow-up, naturally in German. Fortunately, she's allowing this from me, lately, with no unpleasant screeches or screams.
Me: Weisst du, wer seine Mama ist? [Do you know who his mama is?]
Kaya didn't say much in response, acting neither surprised nor interested. Naturally, I was very curious to know if she knew who my mom was.
Me: Weisst du, wer meine Mama war? [Do you know who my mom was?]
I really didn't expect her to know this, either, since she sees Grahms every day and hasn't seen Nana in years (which is likely why, since she has a relationship with Grahms that she never had with Nana). But, after pausing a moment, Kaya responds, huge smile forming on her lips.
Me: Ja, genau! [Yeah, exactly!]
After about a minute, and quite out of the blue, Kaya shifts the focus.
Kaya: Warum ist Nana gestorben? [Why did Nana die?]
I have to admit, I was quite surprised by this question. Though we've talked a bit about Kahlua's death, our dog whom we had to put down last year, death hasn't been much of a topic at all, despite the fact that Nana died nearly 3 years ago. It's not that we've avoided the topic--she defiitely knows that Nana died, and we talk about her on a very regular basis. But on the whole, Kaya hasn't been very interested in the topic. I guess it's about that time, though (she's also got a new friend in her school who has been very interested in the concept lately, too).
The exact response we gave her--something along the lines of Nana being very sick, the kind of sickness that you don't just wake up with and die from overnight, and the fact that everybody dies one day--was less meaningful to me than what she said a few minutes into the conversation, once again, a bit out of the blue. I was so taken aback by the insightfulness of the comment, as well as the delight on her face as she said this, pointing at all of us and towards herself, that I laughed aloud, falling in love with her all over again:
Kaya: Vielleicht wird es andere Leute mit unseren Namen sein, nachdem wir gestorben sind. [Maybe there will be other people with our same names after we're gone...!]
Where did this come from?! Did they talk about this in school (which I somehow doubt!)?
My mom was such a believer in reincarnation.
And I chose Kaya's initials, KL, in honor of my mom, Karen Lasnover.
While I've never been one with strong beliefs around reincarnation, this is one of many experiences that definitely leaves me thinking, once again, about my mom's passing so soon after Kaya was coming into her own in this world. Having Kaya as a part of my life, especially as she gets older, leaves me feeling so close to my mom, so connected in a way I never imagined possible.
Yesterday morning was no exception, in fact, now that I reflect on the experience we had soon after getting out of bed. I was clearly annoyed with Kensa, our dog, after letting her out, then in, then out again, attempting to get her to stop barking at the neighbors. After a few minutes of this, Kaya looks at me lovingly, and calmly and inquisitively asks me, "Mama, warum bist du so frustriert?" [Mama, why are you so frustrated?]
Here I was, feeilng so frustrated with an innocent, well-intentioned, loving beast, understandably wanting to protect her space and her family, and my 4 year old calls me out in the most compassionate way I can imagine possible. I was floored. And so grateful.
Taking her in my arms, and into my lap on the couch, I cradled her close and thanked her. "Danke, Baby. Danke, dass du mich gefragt hast. Das ist wirklich eine gute Frage. Warum bin ich so frustriert?" [Thank you, Baby. Thank you for asking me that. That's a really good question. Why AM I so frustrated?]
It's a bit hard to explain, how meaningful this is to me, but what Kaya did for me--gently bringing the light of awareness to my actions--is what I've been working towards for a long time. Being able to be mindful of my way, and then to hold this way of being with compassion and love, is what I know to be my path to peace. And here, my four year old, my loving mom in spirit, was able to model this for me.
I couldn't be more proud.
And in awe.
The following video gives a little flavor of Nana in our life these days. Tante Lena came for a visit--one of my mom's closest friends--and asked Kaya if she still had the Nanaphone. Naturally, we had to "call" her. While it certainly won't win Best Picture, or Most Exciting Movie of the Year (nor any awards for Cinematography), it does let you in a bit to the wonders of the Nanaphone (even if Kaya tends to be more shy this time around, while she normally has full conversations with Nana on the phone 'by herself'). Enjoy! (and THANKS, Lena, for this enjoying Nana with us in that wonderful way!)