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Loving Today’s Person

I always seem to write while watching children sleep. Today, Ty is cuddled with me in the hospital armchair and Kiara is sleeping in her bed. Daddy is watching the four big boys playing cricket.

I’m breathing in Tyden’s sweet, sweaty hair and feeling grateful that I still have him. I nearly lost him, too, before. Pulled out to sea by an unexpected wave. We hadn’t even been swimming. That was a close one - after minutes of frantic panic, another gift returned. And as I breathe him in, I realise that though I didn’t lose that four-year-old that day, I don’t have him anymore. This first-grader in my arms is similar, and yet different in so many ways. I look across at Kiara and think the same thing about her. We haven’t lost our thirteen-year-old, and yet we won’t have her for long either. We need to remember to love today’s person. Tomorrow they’ll be different, if not gone.

In this time of grief and miracles, we’ve heard many accounts of children lost. It punches me in the gut each time, and yet I try to respond with emotion that matches the owner of the story. I’ve learned that matching your emotion to the one in pain is the most helpful response. Grief with grief. Joy with joy. Peace with peace. Strength with strength.

I am astounded at grieving parents who have contacted us to celebrate. Does courage have no limits? They meet us in our joy and share its warmth by joining the celebration.

Celebrating the Incredible Staff of Netcare uMhlanga Hospital

Speaking of celebrating, we eagerly await the day we fervently prayed would arrive. Kiara walking herself out of hospital! Calling on God’s promise that she would have (need!) many shoes. A local party shop, Celebrate Party Store is even sponsoring balloons to anyone who wants to see Kiara off.

The breadth of social media means there are those connected who understand the danger of balloons to wildlife, and even the lifespan of those labeled ‘biodegradable’. We embrace the cares of others - if anything, this experience has taught us that we need people who know how to care! If grieving parents can clap hands and smile, then celebrating balloon-bearers can dispose of them responsibly. Together, we are kinder. Together, we can care for a wider circle.

Kiara’s circle of choice, her favourite place to be, is amidst ballerinas: dancing, watching, giggling, dreaming, trying on shoes, practicing the older girl’s moves. She has been part of a provincial training academy, where selected younger girls get to rub shoulders with the elite each week. Space is limited - becoming a ballerina is the dream of many young girls. But the academy contacts me this week and reassures me Kiara’s place is reserved. They are trusting for a full recovery, and that she will be able to dance at that standard again.

Louise Kent of Ballet World, supplier of top-of-the-range dance wear, is offering her Gaynor Minden pointe shoes when the time is right. A scriptwriter in London wrote Kiara into his current play while she was still asleep. So many people making decisions based on faith for the best possible outcome! She better get training soon, at West End Theatre the show must go on!

Kiara’s heart is delighted and Rich and I brought to tears as she receives an unexpected surprise from a previously unknown friend. A dinkum ballerina has gathered autographed photos from some of this country’s prima ballerinas. Anya Carstens, Burnise Silvius, and Angela Malan lead a lineup of principals that have penned personal messages to Kiara, many of them including their numbers so she can keep in touch.

The circle of care is wide, and I pray it includes many of you who are in need. Let’s learn to grieve with those who grieve, and celebrate with those who celebrate. Let’s be made kinder by those who have learnt to care for more than we have yet had capacity for. And let’s love the person in front of us - the person of today, the only one we have for sure.

There are so many people to pray for, and we continue to pray for those who have let us know their needs. Those who are still kindly praying for ours, this is what we are asking for:

The suture wound on Kiara’s head would not be under too much pressure and would heal visibly by Friday.

For protection from infection and injury.

For psychological preparation for another major surgery.

For the doctor’s decisions.

For ongoing improvement in concentration, focus, memory and language.

A practical note:

We usually see the doc at about 7am, unless he is called to an emergency, in which case it would be many hours later.

On Friday, he will look at the wound and redress for about half an hour, during which time he will make up his mind about discharging her. After that, IF he says we can go, we can give people 2 or 3 hours warning and set a time (say 10:30 or 11am), while we do the last bit of admin for discharge. So for those who would like to join the sendoff celebration outside the hospital front-doors, I would think you’d want to wait for that call to be made and announced and that should give you enough time to make a plan to get here. We also obviously will not be lingering to greet friends, as tempting as that will be. However, sharing this moment with you would be our delight! You have all been so much a part of us getting to this point.

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