today, i found myself at a loss for words while trying to cheer up the weeping aina. i was speechless, and all i could do was hug her and kiss her, while i was racking my brain to answer one of the most difficult questions aina ever asked me:
death. my death.
during lunch, aina asked, “binggi, when i grow up, will you get old?”
not realizing that it was a booby trap, i said, “yep, kinda like your grandma.”
“but… but…”, her voice started to tremble, “when you get old, i will not be able to see the young binggi anymore, right? what happen if i miss the young binggi? ”
uh oh, my alarm beeped a warning sign. but it was too late… after being upset about not being able to see the young version of me, she went on and dropped the bomb, “binggi, when you get old, you will die, right?”
then, she lifted her hands to cover her face and started to weep, struggling to say, “but i don’t want you to die… i want to be with you forever…”
i was very touched but i also started to panick at the same time. the hugs and the kisses didn’t do much. she couldn’t stop crying. she looked devastated. so, i have to come up with some sort of a reassurance. and, of course, i can’t lie and say i’ll live forever…
first try: the fact
“aina, i’m not gonna die until i’m very, very old. and that’s going to be a long time from now. looooooooong time!”
she looked at me, so i continued, “you know oma tua (her great grandma)? she’s still alive, right? maybe i can be like oma tua, you know… you’ll have kids, i’ll still be with you. and your kids will have kids, i’ll still be with you… i’ll be with you for a veeeeery long time.”
“…but, i want to be with you forever,” huge tears were falling from her eyes.
okay, that doesn’t work. and i’m putting my thinking cap…
second try: the spiritual approach
“aina, you know the Holy Spirit, right?”, i asked.
she nodded. aina does the “in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit” every night for her prayers.
“later, when i die, which is a very long time from now, i will turn to be like the holy spirit, and stay with you right here,” i point to her chest, “and i will be with you forever. i’ll never leave you and follow you wherever you go… trust me.”
her biiiig eyes stared at me, and the tears are still flooding, “but i don’t want you to die… ever!”
hmm, that doesn’t work either. another hug, then.
all the sudden, she said, “binggi, i also don’t want to have a husband.”
“why? what do you mean?”
“i don’t want to get married and have a real husband. pretend husbands are okay, though.”
“like snowy 2?”, Snowy 2 is her current pretend husband, the father of Snowy, the white stuffed dog that goes with her everywhere. she said, snowy is her daughter.
“yes, snowy 2 is fine. but i don’t want to have a human husband.”
i was a bit confused, but i figured, her statement must have something to do with the previous topic. so i asked, “why? is it because after binggi and bubu get married, we don’t live with our moms and dads anymore?”
she nodded and hugged me tighter, “i want to be with you forever!”
i melted. is it weird if i started to cry, too?
third try: my kid is a pragmatic thinker
“you know, baby… i will try my best to live and be with you as long as i can, i promise. you know that a lot of people die from sickness right? ”
she looked at me and nodded.
“so, i will try to stay healthy. i’ll run to keep fit. we ride our bikes to keep moving. i’ll eat healthy food, and you’ll help me cook it. i will try my best not to get sick so i can be with you… okay?”
surprisingly, she nodded. maybe she feels that she can help me stay alive (by peeling the garlic during cooking and carrying the necessary ingredients from the fridge to the counter). she still looks sad but the third try stopped her from crying.
so i asked her, “so, is that okay if i try to keep healthy?”
she nodded again.
“are you still sad?”
“do you want to watch some movies to cheer ourselves up?”
“yes!”, a hint of a smile.
after rummaging through our DVDs, she picked The Wizard Of Oz, and she stopped crying and was back to normal during the movie. yay!