17 August 2006 – 24 October 2014
a Reason to Smile
Theresa Botha Nieuwenhuis
My phone went mad but I did not even have the strength to read all the messages never mind still answer them. I understood that people were concerned and wanted to extend their sympathies, but all I wanted to do was to sink into a little bundle and sit and cry. I hurt so much, and nobody could ever understand – not unless they had been through it themselves.
All the arrangements had been made and Xuané’s funeral had been organised; the death had been registered and all that was left of my child was a mountain of memories and a death certificate. The funeral was to be held on the 28th October… the same day as her operation 5 years previously.
The viewing was at 11H15. My sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, and two friends accompanied me – I was told that I could go in but when I started walking down the stairs I began shaking so much that I turned around and asked my brother-in-law to go in with me. I stopped at the door, but when I heard him say “Look how beautiful you look, My Rose” I walked on in. I saw her lying in a box, but she was the most beautiful angel and had such a peaceful expression on her face… I told her that I loved her and stroked her face but got a fright at the cold it gave off.
We returned home, but my heart was not there; it was with her. More than 300 people attended the funeral – I did not even know half of them. Afterwards they came to drink tea at our house and once everyone had left the deathly silence screamed in my ears.
I went back to work the next day and many of the people did not know how to treat me so they kind of avoided me. I suppose it is understandable because I could either lose it or be awful to people or I could just be myself, like I was every day. One girl said she did not know how to deal with me and I told her to just treat me as she normally does on any other day; I am still the same person, just with one child less.
On the 14th March 2015 I had to bury my child a second time; the headstone is inscribed with the following message:
2006-08-17 – 2014-10-24
Goodnight my Darling… See you tomorrow
Love you LOTS!”
My sister put something in for her and my older sister, who always called her Pikkewyn (Penguin), bought her a small penguin and asked me to please bury it with her.
They were not there. I was very hurt by this and I was angry. I knew that she could not bury Xuané again, but I needed her because I had to bury my child again. Even though we did not always get on, my older sister was very important to me and I needed her so much on that day, as I needed my middle sister and my mother. Xuané was her Godchild, and I thought “Phew! Really?”
But then I thought about it and realised that Xuané was hers too really, and she also had to say goodbye for a second time, as we all had to. My older sister comes across as being very hard and tough but she is very sensitive, so when she sent a sms saying that she knew she had disappointed us all, I reassured her and told her that was not so at all and that I understood 100%.
It was a very short service and only close family were allowed. I put a letter in for Xuané as I could not find or think of anything else to include.
Your “Memorial” Letter – My Dearest Xuanétjie
Mommy wanted to bury something with you tomorrow but I do not have something specific that I can put in… so I wrote you a letter… from my heart to you… My Beloved Little Xuané.
My Beloved Little Flower,
My heart is aching and I really have to say goodbye to you now; you are not here anymore, your ashes are being buried and it is heart-breaking for me to look at this little box and to think that it is you that is inside of it.
My love, you were my everything; you were my superstar; you were my rock. You kept me strong when I thought I had no more to give and with just one smile you could make me feel better. You always just wanted to be near me and I could never understand it – I got frustrated with you at times, but now I understand it; you knew that your time to say goodbye was near. If only I had known, I would have thought twice before becoming frustrated with you… I would have read more stories with you… I would have drawn and coloured in more with you…
It is all still rather unbelievable to me. It feels as though you are not gone… but you are! You are not coming back; I will never again see your sparkling eyes or be able to give you a hug… My heart is empty without you my darling… my heart is in a million pieces and it is not getting better.
Mommy misses you so much. I just wish that I could have done more for you. Mommy tried to do everything that I could to make you as comfortable as possible but it was not enough. Mommy is sorry that I did not sit with you the whole night… Mommy is sorry that you were alone when everything happened… Mommy is so very, very sorry. Nothing I say or do can bring you back, but please just know how indescribably much I love you and that I will always carry you in my heart and that I will never ever forget you.
You are not going to be able to read this letter, but I am burying it with you today in the hope that it will make this pain in my heart feel a bit better. Mommy will look after sis and we will do everything together. I am going to live for you, for your father and for your sister. We are going to enjoy life on your behalf too, and you will always be with us in spirit; you are, after all, my Sunshine Girl.
Mommy loves you my Aspatat my Bekkie Blom, my Angel Child. I will see you again and then I will never ever let you go again. I PROMISE!
LOVE YOU AND REST IN PEACE MY DARLING, YOU DESERVE IT!
Little Fighters Cancer Trust would like to extend a huge thank you to the Niewenhuis family for allowing us to share Xuané’s story and photos, and hope that it will bring Awareness regarding Childhood Cancer to the public in general so that they can get a bit of an idea what battling Childhood Cancer is like – why the Little Fighters Cancer Trust does what it does, why creating Awareness around Childhood Cancer is so important, and enlightenment to other parents.
We will continue with Part 17 of Xuané… a Reason to Smile tomorrow…