Saturday, May 28, 2016

Happy 8th Birthday to My Deep and Thoughtful Daughter

How have 7.5 years since our lovely Leyla joined our family flown by so fast?!?! I find myself as often the student as the teacher.  She want to understand and grapples with complex issues as they enter into her awareness.   She constantly strives to contribute to our family at the same level of her brothers who are 15 and 19, although we remind her our expectations are age specific. 
She wants to know what is happening so she can help. Recently, I had some professional challenges I was working through.  She could see my frustration and sadness.  I was walking her to school, always a fertile time for deep discussions. I asked her if her dad or brothers had shared anything about what was going on with me at work.  She answered back emphatically and the indignation came through in her tone, “No, Mama.  They won’t tell me anything because I am a little girl.  And I know if I knew what was going on, I would be able to comfort you.”   Hearing her complete confidence in her ability to heal reminded me of what children often have that adults lose.  The optimism that solutions are accessible to us individually.  And she was spot on; her simple words did effectively comfort me.  
"Look Mama, we made an "L" for "Love!""
She asks me questions for which I have no good answers.  On another walk, she asked me:  “Mama, what is the point of being grown up.”   I gave this a bit of thought but really couldn’t come up with anything I thought would actually address the inquiry.  So I responded candidly, “I really don’t have a good answer to that question.”  I expected that would be the end of the discussion.  But no, she added kindly, “Don’t worry, Mama, I am not ashamed of you that you don’t know the answer.  We can’t all know the answers to everything.”   I was not sure whether to feel amused or insulted.  But it was clear she was deadly serious and had added this comment to ensure I feel didn’t bad about my inability to provide an answer so I went with amused.

Then she asks me questions I know I have to answer.  We had an expected death in our family when our beloved Papillion Bella passed with no warning at the tender age of 4.5 years.  Bella joined our family when Leyla was three so she doesn’t remember a time when Bella wasn’t with us.  Leyla took the news very hard.  Her words to express her grief cut through me.  

“It feels like we are not a family any more.  We are just five people living in a house with a bird.”  

“Please, please tell me this is just a really bad dream.”  

“Our family lost its heart or at least most of it.”

 “Are you absolutely sure she is not coming back?”  

She then asked the deepest human question: “What is the point of life if we are all just going to die anyway?” 

I knew this was a question I couldn’t dodge and my response was super important.  I looked into her tear filled big black eyes and took a deep breath.  

“We had a wonderful 4 and half years with our Bella.  She traveled the world with us and gave each person in the family many special moments and memories.  Knowing she would leave us before she was five, would you rather we never brought Bella into our lives?”  

I waited anxiously for her answer.  

She responded emphatically, “Of course not, Mama!”  

“And that, my sweetheart, is the point of life.”  

We then “hugged it out” with her thin little arms wrapped tightly around my neck. 

As we celebrated her eighty birthday at a favorite Italian restaurant, Leyla leaned over and asked me to get everyone's attention. There was a spirited dialogue with her brothers and dad she couldn't quite break into.  She then told us in her most serious tone, "Thank you for a great birthday.  And the best part is being with my family.  You never know when family won't be with you any more, like Bella."

Thank you my beloved daughter for approaching life with unflinching introspection and for asking the truly tough questions for which I don’t always have any or adequate answers.  

You stretch, teach and comfort me more than you will ever know.  

Celebrating 8 with her new Beanie Boos from her Aunties and Purse from Oma
We are so blessed you joined our family. And I am so honored to be your “Mama” and guide as you navigate some deep waters. Happy Eighth Birthday Leyla Marie Fasika Angelidis!!