July 2001, I was flying home with my daughter India from Vancouver, after wrapping the movie “The Miracle Of The Cards” in Vancouver. It had been a wonderful experience as I had been playing a woman whose faith had cured her son of an inoperable brain tumor. It was the true story of Marion, and her son Craig Shergold, and I felt so blessed when I was cast as the lead. The only downside was my ever-expanding girth – due to my being seven months pregnant. I was not supposed to be pregnant in the film, so my belly had to be disguised in very unflattering tent-like wardrobe.
Casper had decided that I should come up with the baby’s name, as she was a girl – although he was becoming more and more alarmed by my outlandish suggestions, which ranged from Tiger Lily to Lumina Electra – what the hell was I thinking!? (Apologies to any Tiger Lily’s out there!) Anyway, he had vetoed me hitherto.
Coming up with India’s name had been easy. One of my best friends as a child was called India Jane, and I had always thought it a beautiful name. Also, her name was ever present in my mind all during my pregnancy. So, India was a no-brainer. But this baby, well, nothing seemed to fit just right.
Sitting on the plane, flipping through the baby book that India happened to be mentioned in, under celebrity examples. I turned to her and blurted out of nowhere, “What about Maya?” Exasperated, she said, ”That’s it! I’m so tired of this naming business. Her name is Maya Van Dien, and that’s that!”
Simultaneously, on his way back from filming in Romania, Casper was also in mid-air, meditating and doing yoga on a plane. Suddenly, he had this vision of a little ten-year-old girl (Maya just turned 10 this September). She said, ”My name is Maya. It is spelled M-A-Y-A. Maya Van Dien! (somehow she knew that her prospective father was quite dyslexic!). Now, get up and write that down!”
Even though Casper was not pre-disposed to following orders from disembodied beings, he obediently unraveled from some pretzel-like yoga pose; and looking for the nearest piece of paper to transcribe the name before he forgot, he grabbed the Joseph Campbell book he was reading. It fell open on the page where he had left off reading, and to his amazement, the title of the next chapter, written in bold type at the top of the page was – MAYA! His hair stood on end. We had never once discussed this name and, by his own admission, it definitely wasn’t one that he would have come up with on his own.
He wrote down Maya Van Dien across the page from the chapter all about Maya, and spent the rest of the flight agonizing about how he was going to explain how he had been visited by the soul of our baby. I was the mystical one, after all! I was the one who had visions! He was the sensible, grounded one in the relationship – the voice of reason!
He sat deliberating in the airport, wondering how he was going to break the news to me. He wondered if I would I think he’d lost his mind!? He wondered if maybe he had!
Finally we arrived, and before he could open his mouth, India ran up to him. “We have come up with the baby’s name. It’s decided! Maya van Dien!” Casper gasped! Then leapt in the air and screamed like a schoolgirl.
It seemed that Maya had gotten through to us at the same time. Perhaps we were easier to influence while we were both cruising in our air born chariots, skimming across heaven’s perimeter.
And for anyone who knows our daughter, this behavior is signature Maya. From the moment she was born, and could point her finger to indicate what we should do and where we should go, she earned the nickname “Baby Napoleon”. Truly, she started bossing us around even before she was born!