“Is Yaya dead?” I heard from the direction of Rose’s carseat.
WHAT? I thought. How the hell does she know that?
“Well, um, yes. One of your Yayas is dead and the other one is very much alive.”
“Where is Yaya?” she asked.
“Remember, she visited us? She lives in New York, where Papou and Aunt Cathi live.”
“No, the other Yaya. Can we visit her?”
“No, Sweetie, not for a long time.”
Rose asked the same questions of Matt as he drove and he explained the situation much more clearly. “Your mother had a Mommy who raised her and another one who had her in her tummy. The one who raised her is dead. You went to her funeral. The other one is alive and she was here a few months ago, remember?” She spared him the follow-up questions. Maybe if I’d explained it better she wouldn’t have asked me either. Dammit.
Clearly I dropped the ball on explaining the story to Rose, but my mind was stuck on how she ever got the idea that Yaya died. Yes, she went to Yaya’s funeral, but she wasn’t even two years old at the time, and it was a closed casket, thank God, so there was nothing creepy to explain. But there’s no way she connected that experience, more than a year ago, to Yaya’s death. She never met my mother because my mom was too far gone with Alzheimer’s by the time Rose was born. I thought if we tried to introduce her to my mom, Rose would freak out at her –a shell of a person unable to connect the outside world.
But now that my mom is free, what would stop her from haunting Rose? Nothing, I concluded. In fact, I think she’d love the idea. She hadn’t seen me, really seen me, for eight years before she died. She wasn’t really conscious for the last eight years. Why wouldn’t she want to visit my house and see her grandchildren? It makes perfect sense.
I don’t delve much into the supernatural, but I do believe in ghosts. I have to. I’ve heard so many stories from people I respect, and I did live in a haunted apartment for a little while. Plus, it’s kind of hard to believe in an afterlife and not believe in ghosts. That said, ghosts scare the hell out of me. I once stayed at a friend’s house and couldn’t let myself sleep because of a ghost they described who visited once a year and then only in the kitchen, a whole floor below me.
Have I felt anything around the house? No. But the events of 2010 could all to point to my mother’s influence on my life. First I got pregnant despite a grim prognosis; then I met my birth mother; then I interested three publishing professionals in my work; I gave birth to a healthy son; my blog readership skyrocketed; then I met my birth father.
I don’t want to get too freaky but couldn’t that be my mother smiling down at me? Although it’s iffy whether she’d want me to meet my birth parents, I think she’d want that mystery of my life solved for me. And as I recall, when the agency gave me some information about my story, my real parents wanted to hear all about it.
I could definitely pin the writing success on my mother. She loved the way I wrote since I was little, and she’d always say, “Maybe you’ll be an author” or “Maybe you’ll write a bestseller.” (Amen to that!) But she hated to share anything personal and I write about her life a lot. Has the afterlife changed her? Is she cool with people knowing her secrets now? And the pregnancy thing – what grandparent doesn’t want another grandchild? I could definitely see her work in that.
But is it her or is it me? I have worked really hard on my writing for years, but last year I spent more time doing it. Plus the blog’s facilitated big improvements in my work, not to mention a boost in my confidence. What about my birth parents? I put my name on the New York State Adoption Registry more than 10 years ago, and my birth father tells me he recently put the impetus on my birth mother to find me. The pregnancy? I can’t explain that away except to say we were looking into adoption so the pressure to conceive was truly off. And every time we’d failed to conceive, I’d said that as soon as the right kid came along, we’d get pregnant. I’ve also long subscribed to the belief that sometimes one extended family member has to die to make room for a new one. Ok, there’s my mom again. And all the time we’d tried to conceive I’d been praying so hard for the next time to work. Can’t discount God’s influence either.
So I guess I have to take credit for some of the good stuff, and give credit where credit is due. I won’t let go of the belief that, at the very least, my mom is watching out for me. But if Rose starts spouting freaky stuff again, I may just have to invest in a Ouija Board.