Leila turned 5 on the weekend. She kept asking me when the kids would get here for her Princess and Witch party, because she would still be four until then. “So, now you’re still four?” I asked, the morning of her birthday. Funny, I remembered her being born around 6 a.m. Whoops Mom, going into real time again. “Yes, Mom.” She shook her head. “So when the kids get here, that’s when I’ll turn five.” Determined. Believing. I love that about her.
Then she comes out of nowhere. “Mom, will I be created again?” I smile, not sure how to answer. We’ve talked a lot about death in our family. Over the past two years, we have lost her Grampie Garth, her baby sister Tya, her Great Grampie Earl, and most recently, Nannie’s dog, Harpua. We’ve gone through every story in the book, I’m sure.
You’ll be light and love in your next life, Leila.
You’ll be butterfly wings that fly and shimmers that live close to the moon.
You’ll be dirt and grass, and little bird’s songs.
You’ll be YOU.
You’ll be SOMEONE ELSe.
You’ll be an old wise ancestor.
You’ll be a cloudy day and then a sunny one.
You’ll be one of Saturn’s rings and then one of Pluto’s moons.
You’ll be everything.
You’ll be nothing.
And you won’t mind it.
Ah, death. Death is like an old friend at our house. But when Lei asked me if she would be created again, I didn’t know what to answer. I thought about all the beautiful creation myths that we have from all the countries in the world, and how they are encompassing. They are enough. They are simple, and sorted. Filed under “C” for creation. Why is it so complex on the other end? Why can’t we have a new batch, filed under “D” for our final eternal graduation?
I don’t like Heaven. I’m thirty years old, and something in me is still fighting against my Roman Catholic upbringing. Why? Why, Mo?! I don’t know why I can’t just give in, and let the gigantic wave of dogma take me out to sea, to the pillars of my Christian upbringing, until I’m floating in the ethereal abyss. Take me, pearly gates! Take me, Philly Cream Cheese Angel!
One step down the mental spiral staircase. It’s not heaven that I don’t like, it’s everything that goes along with it. It’s the picture of a white man in sandals that steps on the clouds. It’s that it’s the same for everyone. It’s like one big, shiny box and when you die, you go there. Will this make death intimate? Will this make death personal?
I admit, it might be the whole ‘angel’ idea that I dislike. When a baby dies, people don’t know how to react. So they go where they know – to Angels. It’s chartered territory. She’s an angel now, I get it. But something in me reacted negatively about all the angel business – I’m a twenty-first century mom who loves talking about physics and energy, but at Book of Revelations I seem to want to draw the line. Starting with the fact that I’m a hysterical non-believer.
I like reincarnation for two reasons. The first is that is suggests that death is transitory – that we are not gone, but changed. Our living beings of light and love are real and are valued. As important as we are in one life, we are in the next (or as unimportant we are in one life we are in the next, but we’ll not get to that today).
Number two. Kids seem to easily accept this. Okay, I’m a bird. BAM. Okay, I’m a twelve year old in India. BAM. Okay, I’m a tree. Great. I’ll be beautiful in the fall, sway in the breeze, and people will write poems about. Restful. Peaceful. Not without expectation, but not expecting your life in the sky, either.
Yes, Lei, you will be created again. For now, my Angel’s on Earth.