Last year at the life-changing, heart-stretching memorial service of our precious, beloved friend, 3 ½ year old Koa Nakai, who had tragically died in an accident 6 days earlier, in accordance with their Navajo path, Koa’s parents had laid out many of Koa’s belongings and toys for others to take home with them. I let Araela (then 7) and Ezra (then 3 ½) each choose something from the pile, to carry Koa’s energy home with them inside an object. Araela chose a small harp, and Ezra chose a single, neon-yellow walkie-talkie.
Though Koa’s presence is with us forever, and we talk about him often, I had all but forgotten about those items from his memorial service, until last night. I was running Ezra’s bath, and as I walked by his bedroom, I saw him sitting on the floor, talking into the yellow walkie-talkie that had been Koa’s. I listened for a moment, unable to decipher exactly what he was saying, and then I heard him say “Ok, I’ll talk to you again soon, Bye.”
I walked into his room and sat down beside him to help take off his clothes for his bath, and asked gently “Who were you talking to, Babe?” He was still holding the walkie-talkie in his hand, and he pointed to it as he said: “I was talking to Koa. This is my spirit walkie-talkie, and it doesn’t need batteries, because I use it only to talk to Koa.” I was at once startled, moved, and fascinated to hear this. I said “That’s who you were just talking with now?” He shrugged, nonchalant, and said, “Yeah, he was trying to call me all day to talk, but I was at Kindergarten, so I had to call him back.” I pulled his shirt over his arms and head of copper curls, and with my heart starkly in my throat, I asked him, “What do you and Koa talk about?” He smiled, and he said “He’s really funny! He likes to tell me poop jokes.” I laughed at that, and said “Really?! Poop jokes?” He nodded, knowingly. Then he added “And he also asks me about what it’s like to be 4 years old now.” My heartmind flashed to images of that day of Koa’s burial, his 3 ½ year old body lovingly prepared to enter the earth, his spirit as wide and brilliant as the sun, as we raised our hands to the heavens and sang him home to the other side. A few tears escaped my eyes as I asked him, “What did you tell him about being 4 years old, Love?” He said “I told him I am bigger now, and I can do lots of things now, but I am still only 4. “ So sweet and fierce and true, my beautiful son. I looked into his eyes, and said “I love that you talk to Koa. That is so very special.” And he said all official-business-like “Yep, that’s why I choosed the walkie-talkie, Mom.” Then he stood up, his gorgeously naked almost 5 year old self, growing so soft and strong, and galloped off to his waiting bath.
I sat there for a few minutes, with the walkie-talkie in my hands, clutched to my heart, reveling at the powerful soul of one small boy, Koa Nakai, who has managed to crack open my heart, and that of countless others, over and over and over again. And the mysterious bonds between the little ones, these little boys who came in on the same wave of birth, who swam in the womb-waters at the same time, learned to nurse and stand and walk and sing and pray with their human bodies and voices, and then came a fork in the road one day, where their paths took very different directions. And who knows how the bond continues, this bond which is clearly not bound by flesh nor space nor concept nor what we try to know, but is carefully nurtured by the heart of a mystery so deep and vast and wildly bright, we can only humbly bow when we catch glimpse of it.