Day 213 “Life After Life”

“Scoot up on the step, Rie-Rie, and let Mommy put on your new shoes.” With only weeks to go until my second child was to be born, I found bending over impossible. Obligingly, Marie climbed up the steps and offered me a foot. “Look how shiny they are! Don’t you love them?”

The black patent Mary-Janes fit her tiny feet perfectly. She sat patiently while I adjusted the buckles, chattering away as she often did, but this time I found her words strangely unsettling.

“When you were little you always loved your Baby Dolls the best.”

Baby Dolls! It was a term I hadn’t heard for ages.

“Where did you hear them called Baby Dolls?” I quizzed my two-and-a-half-year-old.

“You called them your Baby Dolls. You had to wear them everywhere.”

Marie often talked of when she was big and I was little; I had just thought that it was a thing that young children did. When you were a baby, I fed you applesauce, she’d say, for example. But repeating a name I’d left behind in my own childhood and forgotten startled me. Who are you? I wondered.

My second daughter was born at the end of October, the same day we moved into our new, unfinished home. Without kitchen cupboards, or a proper countertop, I was forced to bathe my newborn in the bathroom sink. I assigned Marie as helper and stood her on the toilet seat where she would be within reach. On the back of the toilet, I had placed a flower arrangement, made from the silk flowers that had been part of my bridal bouquet. Marie spotted it at once.

“Oh, how pretty!” she exclaimed. “I made one of these once.”

“You did? And when was that?” I couldn’t help but be amused. In her short life, at home with me, I knew for certain she had not.

“Oh a long time ago, before you were born. Only I made it out of yarn.”

Yarn?! Where did she come up with such things. I would say ‘wool’, not ‘yarn’.

“Oh yeah? And where was that?”

“It was when I lived in England. At school.”

“And how old were you then?”

“Sixty months.”

“And how old is that?”

“Five.” Marie said it so matter-of-factly, but I was stunned. How does a not quite three-year-old know that sixty months equate to five years?

“Marie is scaring me with the way she talks,” I told my mother over the phone. “It’s like she has been here before.”

“You were like that too,” was her response. “She is just very bright, that’s all.”

I wasn’t so sure. I called my cousin Lynne. “Could she have been here before, like she says?”

“Some people believe so,” she said. “It’s called reincarnation. There’s a book you should read that might help you out. It’s by Ian Currie – You Cannot Die.”

It was the beginning of a shift in the way I thought about life, and life after life.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.