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  • Marya Kazmi

Inhale Confidence & Exhale Doubt

In the last 5 years, my daughter has been the one constant person in my life. Without even knowing it, Kaiya has been the calm to my internal storm. It’s been this way since she was born, but in this past year, our relationship has deepened even more. 


She has this way of knowing just what to say in the moment that changes the energy and my perspective. Kaiya is the gift the universe bestowed on me amid the constant challenges I have been thrown. So when there are moments where she is going through anything, I am ready to be her rock and the adult she can count on to support her emotionally and mentally. Both of us were put to the test on this a few Wednesday’s ago. 


The weekend prior to that Wednesday was special for her. My oldest son, Majid, decided to get her a Beta fish as a late birthday present. So, my middle son,Tai, and Majid spent their Saturday buying and preparing all the items our new pet, Coral, would need. It was the best gift ever. As my little bleeding heart baby does, she fell instantly in love with Coral and was now his Mama. Coral was a new member of the family. She was beyond thrilled and Majid earned some massive brother points. 


The new inclusive rituals with Coral went on like this until Wednesday morning. I was preparing to present in front of a group of leaders at a school I work with when I got a call from Tai. That morning Tai was getting Kaiya off to school before heading to work. Tai’s call was unexpected so I left the room and answered the call making sure everything was ok. As I picked up the phone I could hear the sobbing in the background and Tai’s worry, “Ma, Coral isn’t moving, he died.” Then the sobs got even louder. 


My poor baby was heartbroken and I couldn’t do anything more than some words of consolation from afar. I spoke to her and him and then had to pull my emotions together and lead a group of adults in some heavy conversations on race. I did it and even found a way to weave in my story of what just happened with Coral to deepen my relationship with this new group of educators. But as soon as I was done and throughout the rest of the day my baby girl and her sadness was sitting on my heart. 


I spent the day thinking about how I would make this up to her and how we would say a proper goodbye that would feel fitting to Kaiya. I designed my plan and was ready at the end of the day to pick Kaiya up and treat her to a special evening before we had our funeral for Coral. The one certainty I have learned is that there is no guarantee of anything in the plans I make for life. This moment was no different. 


I picked her up from the bus stop and asked what she was in the mood to eat. She wanted to go to Anita’s for some soothing enchiladas. Perfect. As we headed out I had to take a quick call about some financial things I was taking care of. The quick call turned into a much longer conversation and we ended up sitting in the parking lot while I was still speaking with the gentlemen. 


His news was upsetting and started to take me into an internal spiral of feeling frustration at the compounding years leading me to my current financial circumstances. I was thinking about how hard I had been working in multiple jobs and finding opportunities to try to just take care of all the people I was responsible for. My emotions were getting heavier and as much as I tried to hold onto my composure, I started to cry. At first it was tears streaming, but it grew into sobs and more of an ugly cry. I couldn’t hold back the flood of feeling overwhelmed with the burdens financially and emotionally I have had to hold for too many years alone. 


Then unexpectedly, Kaiya climbed in the front seat and put her arms around me. As I cried through my apology for breaking down in front of her, she reminded me it was good to show my emotions. Then she said, “Mama it’s like it says above my vanity, inhale confidence and exhale doubt. You are going to be ok Mama!”


 I anticipated this evening would be me consoling Kaiya about the passing of her first pet in our home, but it turned out that she was the one soothing me. To end the sad moment she threw in, “Well Mama, at least your eyeliner didn’t run.” We make it a point to move from our sadness to happier times. It made me laugh and brought me out of the emotional state just like she knew it would.

We walked into Anita's and had a delicious enchilada while we planned how we were going to say goodbye to Coral. Then we proceeded home to address the thing we were originally supposed to focus on. Coral had a simple eulogy and was humanely flushed down the toilet. The flush was the toughest part for Kaiya, she couldn’t bear to see him sucked into the toilet vortex and had to step away. That is when her waterworks started. 

Foolowing the flush, Kaiya and I curled up on my bed, while I held her as she sobbed into my shoulder for a few minutes. I was able to be her rock just like she was mine. When I knew she had let her emotions out, I threw in, “At least  your eyeliner didn’t run”. She smiled, and the pain started to subside with some Mama and Kaiya laughter. The evening ended with a bowl of ice cream and curling up watching baking shows on Netflix. 


Being reminded to inhale confidence & exhale doubt kept me strong in a moment where I couldn’t see myself or my power. Kaiya saw my sadness and reminded me that it was my ability to feel that she admired while still knowing that I will move through it and be better. We show up for each other to remind ourselves of those things and to be the foundation we need and crave. 


I realized that this brilliant young person has truly internalized the messages of strength I try to surround her with. The best gift I can hope to give my children is to allow them to see my authenticity in order for them to live in theirs. That can be wrapped in both strength and sorrow at times. 


This year has tested me once again in many aspects of my heart, mind and finances but I know that through that I am learning and growing and my daughter is watching and learning alongside how to show up for herself and move through pain in the constant evolution of healing. 





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