Saying ‘Bon Voyage’ to my parents at OR Tambo today
We took my parents to the airport this afternoon – they are flying out to the States for a long overdue visit to our family in the USA. As I’m sure most people who knows me know, I loathe airports. And although today wasn’t necessarily sad per se, I could still feel my throat close up the closer we got to international departures. Luckily I had to concentrate on my folks and getting them ready (and preaching like a maniac about all the atrocities that can befall them if they don’t do what I say!) for the long journey to the States.
It was only after I waved them off at the boarding gate that I slowly traced back my steps to the same place I sat when Kevin left, bawling my eyes out thinking that I would never ever be able to get up. But people do get up don’t they? Even after the unthinkable happens, they still get up. I have quite a few friends who have lost children (and loved ones), and they all say the worst part about death is that life goes on. Nobody would stop and mourn with you. Traffic is still hectic, the guy on the corner still sells newspapers and the radio host still talks his head off. Telesales people still bug you, the people at Checkers are still rude and people in shopping centres are spending money like always. Nobody would just stop and respect the fact that someone had died. And life goes on: You still have to bath and get dressed and eat and sleep and do all the things humans do. And you have to do all this with a broken heart.
My son’s friend from school, Luan, was killed in motor vehicle accident on 20 May 2012. I wanted to write something about him yesterday, but my heart was just too heavy. It’s only now, returning from the airport, that I find myself thinking about him again. And I realize that no matter how sad and torn I am because my children are not with me, so many of my friends will never get to see their children on earth again. So it is with much gratefulness in my heart that I can say today that even though I miss my boys so much, they are only a few provinces, and in Kevin’s case, a continent away. I will see them again. Luan’s mom won’t see him again. Ian’s mom won’t see him again. Ronel’s mom won’t see her again. Adel’s mom won’t see her again. Andries’ mom won’t see him again. Leon’s mom won’t see him again. Wilma won’t see her daughter again. Brigitte won’t see her precious baby girl again (happy birthday Ilenca…) Many (too many!) of my friends won’t see their children again. And 40 of ‘my’ angel babies’ parents won’t see them again. And I have 3 of my boys still here with me on earth. And for that I am so very grateful tonight.
Without getting all dark and depressing, I want to share a beautiful poem that was originally written in Afrikaans by a poet called ‘Totius’. I think its meaning gets lost in translation, but it is absolutely heart wrenching and so moving, so I’m sharing it with you today:
O DIE PYN-GEDAGTE – MY KIND IS DOOD (TOTIUS)
O Die pyn-gedagte: My kind is dood! . . .dit brand soos ‘n pyl in my. Die mense sien daar niks nie van, en die Here alleen die weet wat ek ly. Die dae kom en die nagte gaandie skadu’s word lank en weer kort; die drywerstem van my werk weerklink,en ek gaan op my kruisweg voort. Maar daar skiet aldeur ‘n pyn in my hart,so, dat my lewe se glans verdwyn; Jou kind is dood met ‘n vreeslike dood! En – ek gryp my bors van die pyn. O Die bliksemgedagte! . . . Ja, lieflingskind,een straal het jou skone liggaam verskroei,maar bliksemstrale sonder tal laat my binneste brand en bloei. Sy was so teer soos ‘n vlindertjie,sy’t lugtig omheen geswerf; ‘n asempie wind kon haar vlerkies breeken – kyk watter dood moes sy sterf! Hoe weinig die kinders wat so moet sterf, dis een uit die tienduisend-tal,en ag, dat dit sy was, en ek moes siendat sy dood in my arms val! O Die pyn-gedagte: My kind is dood! . . .dit brand soos ‘n pyl in my; die mense die sien daar niks nie van, en die Here alleen die weet wat ek ly.
Oh the painful thought: my child is dead! It burns like an arrow in me… People don’t see any of it And only the Lord, He knows how I suffer. Days come and nights go Shadows grow tall and short again Behind me, the echo of my work’s moving spirit;and I… continue my way of the cross But then, a pain shoots through my heart. So much so that that the brilliance of my life disappears; Your child is dead with a terrible death And I clench my chest with the pain… Oh the thunderbolt-thought!….yes, beloved child! One flash of lightning scorched your tender body, But thunderbolts without number Leave me to burn and bleed She was so tender, like a butterfly …She glided lightly about; The tiniest breath of wind could have damaged her wings And — look, what a death she had to die How few the children who must so die One in ten thousand count And oh, that is was she, and I should see That she died in my arms. Oh the painful thought: my child is dead! It burns like as arrow in me… People don’t see any of it And only the Lord, He knows how I suffer.
I dedicate this post to every single person who has lost a child and who has to live with the painful thought that their child is dead – every second, of every minute of every hour of every day… I have no words, just lots of love and light to send your way. And today I can honestly say when I tell you “my thoughts are with you”, I truly mean it.
And for you Luan, words from the song ‘Photograph’ by Ed Sheeran:
Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes But it’s the only thing that I know When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes It is the only thing makes us feel alive We keep this love in a photograph We made these memories for ourselves Where our eyes are never closing Hearts are never broken And time’s forever frozen still So you can keep me Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans Holding me closer ’til our eyes meet You won’t ever be alone, wait for me to come home Loving can heal, loving can mend your soul And it’s the only thing that I know, know I swear it will get easier Remember that with every piece of you And it’s the only thing we take with us when we die We keep this love in this photograph We made these memories for ourselves Where our eyes are never closing Hearts were never broken And time’s forever frozen still So you can keep me Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans Holding me closer ’til our eyes meet You won’t ever be alone And if you hurt me That’s okay baby, only words bleed Inside these pages you just hold me And I won’t ever let you go Wait for me to come home …
Luan Engelbrecht 20/5/2012