By Marivir R. Montebon
(Last of two parts)
Nikki was in Grade 5 then – she told me that her teacher wanted to see me. I begged her to tell me what happened, if she did something wrong. She said no she didn’t do anything wrong. Off I went to see her teacher the following day.
The teacher told me that Nikki declared in her Religion class that Jesus Christ wasn’t really God and she didn’t believe that he’s a God. I almost fell off my chair. Why was that? I asked her teacher.
Nikki had a debate with the teacher about the Da Vinci Code, authored by Dan Brown, which mentioned somewhere on its pages that Jesus Christ was declared a deity by Emperor Constantin in order to consolidate his political clout with the growing number of Christian believers.
Jesus Christ, I blurted. She read the Da Vinci Code which was on my night table – I told the teacher! I never even finished reading it and Nikki had devoured it. The teacher and I laughed.
I asked the teacher if she had read Brown’s bestseller book, to which she said no. So I asked her to give me some time to finish reading the book. I also suggested that she read the book for us to have an intelligent discussion with Nikki.
That evening, I pulled an all-nighter to finish the Da Vinci Code. I couldn’t help my blurt out – oh my God Nikki. What a child.
The Catholic Church in the Philippines banned the movie and novel Da Vinci Code. I had a copy from a friend who bought it from HongKong. I read it luxuriously, by installments, and never realized that Nikki had gone inside my bedroom and read the entire book and said Jesus Christ wasn’t God in her class. OMG.
Over breakfast, I had a serious discussion with Nikki. I said I was glad she did not get into trouble doing something horrible to anyone. But declaring that Jesus Christ wasn’t God and that you don’t believe he’s God was brave, I told her, considering she’s in a Catholic School.
I was actually amused and terrified by Nikki. Still I continued to lead a serious discussion. To this effect, I said, Dan Brown is a fiction writer. He imagines things but uses researched facts too, and some that are made up.
I asked her to not swallow the hook line and sinker that Dan Brown wrote about Jesus Christ, because he is a fiction writer.
As far as believing that Jesus Christ was God or the son of God – ultimately is all up to you, I said. We choose what we believe, like believing that we are all children of God. But the most important thing is to do good with the inspiration of our religious beliefs.
Jesus Christ had shown ultimate love and kindness for people. That is his message, 2000 years that never went out of style. We will be on the same page with that fact. His message of love and faith continues – because that is what we are supposed to do as human beings.
That was the longest, most difficult sermon I gave as a mother. God, I wasn’t sure if I was making sense to my child that morning. But that ended our discussion about the deity character of Jesus Christ.
But yes, Emperor Constantin indeed declared Jesus Christ a deity and considered himself the 13th disciple – that was sourced by Dan Brown from the Council of Nicea records. Tough time being a mom to a wiz child.
Nikki continued to be a voracious reader. Reading was her joy. She wrote very well too – which is a natural consequence for someone who reads a lot. She would tell me things that I never knew from the books that she read.
It came as a lovely surprise to me when she said that she had finished reading all the volumes of her encyclopedia and the Bible too in Elementary. No wonder, she always topped in the religion quiz bees at school.
At one point in our adult conversation, I reminded Nikki that we are whole beings – not just political animals. I have quite repeatedly told her of the need to nourish ourselves holistically – economically, physically, emotionally, socially, politically, and spiritually. As a mom, I had told her that what matters is our kindness and honesty despite the chaos of our times. She concurred. She was youthful and had a brilliant mind and a critical attitude towards people, I somehow wanted to temper that.
In Nikki’s last days at the hospital, she would sing praise songs with my mother when we prayed in the morning and night. Her voice was soft and sweet. And my heart was in pain but in elation as well. I told her, you actually sing so well, nak. And she just smiled.
My first dream of Nikki a few days after she passed on November 17, 2019 was that – she was on her hospital bed and told me, ‘no more mom, enough’ – which meant she had enough of her pain and she wants no more of it.
Then there was a great white light that engulfed her in bed and I couldn’t see her anymore. I had a calm and assured feeling watching the light in that dream.
I woke up with a certain feeling of peace – that Nikki is in God’s loving embrace. I sunk in grief again but was grateful too. My daughter’s home. #
(Featured photo – Nikki in high school at age 15)