You remember it; we all do. The Talk. As a parent, it's something I've thought about since my daughter was born. These daughters of ours. They make us really think. Consider. And then all of a sudden that daughter, then two, asks how babies get out of their mommies bellies to be born. The sudden realization that this is not going to be A talk. This is going to be many, many talks over many, many years.
I snap my fingers and that little girl is seven years old. We are walking to school together. Sometimes I can't quite look at her directly because her beauty takes my breath away. She exudes emotion at every moment. It lives and breathes on the outermost layers of her skin. It dances and sparks in the air which surrounds her body. I can feel it when I kiss her or reach out to touch her hair.
As if it's the most natural thing in the world she asks, "Momma when you die do you want to be buried with your whole body or as ashes? If you want ashes do you want them buried in a cemetery or put somewhere else? Like maybe some at the beach and some at the house where you grew up?"
My breath is stolen from me. But after a moment, I feel the pride swell and take over me. My eyes tear. My seven year old girl is asking the questions that so many of us adults are afraid to ask. We are scared to say these words to our own parents. My girl asks them with complete honesty and sincerity. She really wants to know. She understands the gravity in the question. She has had big losses in her little life.
She's my mission and my mirror. I was put on this earth to parent this child. But of course if I take a step back, I see that she is here as my teacher. She is parenting me, teaching me, as much as I am to her. I could walk away from my reflection in her mirror. Sometimes I do. I always want to, as the easier path. But usually, I try to make the choice to face it. Learn from it. Act on it.
My hope is that she keeps asking the questions. Or maybe my real hope is that I can keep answering them honestly, in a way that encourages her to keep asking them.
Rachel Nusbaum is a partner, mom, daughter and sister who writes in pursuit of connection with herself and others. The experience of sharing her own story inspired her to work with other people to shape their personal narrative as a way to find meaning and adapt. Find out more about Rachel through her creative business, Orchid Story, or connect with her on Instagram.
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