Baby Beluga died and I did not tell Kaya.
We’ve been visiting the Vancouver Aquarium since Kaya was a baby and the belugas, especially the baby belugas, have always been favorites. So when Tiqa died this past fall, I just could not bring myself to tell Kaya. I mean, come on, she serenaded ‘Baby Beluga‘ to baby beluga, I just couldn’t!
Of course, Kaya is in Kindergarten now and is informed about a great many things that I have no control over. So it is, her best little buddy breaks the news to her. My sweet, sensitive soul does not say anything to me at first until one day she blurts,
“Baby Beluga is dead.”
I want to lie, tell her she’s talking crazy talk but I know she knows and I know it should have been me to tell her first.
I sigh, then tell her yes. We both get teary, then hug while I madly search my mind for the ‘right’ thing to say next.
Being a mother is damn hard. By trying to protect her, I’ve gone and lost some of the trust she has in me. Protecting should not be sheltering. Had I told her myself, I could have provided the safe place to express any emotions she may have. I could have been there with immediate hugs and guidance.
Life is full of hardships, obstacles, and pain. Life is full of death too. Denying that is denying life. Our greatest lessons learned- empathy, compassion, giving, sharing, love- often arise from the pain. How am I to deny my girl that? Learning to navigate difficulties is as essential to life as experiencing the wonders.
“I don’t want to die mom.”
“Oh baby, you have a very, very long life before you need to think about that.”
Then she gives me a look, a look that says “Baby Beluga must have thought the very same thing.”
She understands so much more than I give her credit for sometimes.
I want to promise her this won’t happen to her but I can not. Lying is no good and brutal honesty, a disservice.
Recently Kaya was at a birthday party when one of the girls there, also 5-years-old, suddenly got sick. One hour later she was being rushed to Children’s Hospital and found to have a brain tumour. Kaya is all too aware the possibilities.
So, what the hell is a mother to do?!
Hugs. Age-appropriate, but honest conversations too.
“Do you have any other questions for me?” I ask as this particular talk n’ cuddle nears a close.
“No. But I don’t want to get old.”
“Oh sweetie, don’t you want to be 6!”
She looks torn. She has really, really, really wanted to turn 6 after several kids in her class have had birthdays.
“Well, maybe 6 but that’s all!” putting her hands on her hips to make her point, then adding,
“After that you get dots on your face and hair on your toes.”
Navigating the difficulties she shall.