17 August 2006 – 24 October 2014
a Reason to Smile
Theresa Botha Nieuwenhuis
Feelings are a strange thing. Emotions are even worse. They catch you at inconvenient times and in strange places…
The tiniest thing that you see that reminds you of her can open the floodgates, and you cannot stem the flow of tears no matter how hard you might try. Before you know it a week has passed, then 2 then 3… and the heart-breaking fact is that it is just going to get longer and it is never going to end until the day that I lay down my head.
Some days I just felt that everything was getting to be too much, but then I would see that little glimmer of hope again and would get strength from Above to carry on.
December was coming closer and I did not want Christmas to arrive. I decided to write this story to share that terrible day so that everyone can understand how I am feeling.
My Worst Nightmare Came True!!!
8 years 2 months and 6 days… That is how old my child was and will always be…
I am counting the days since you are no longer here. It is already 45 days without you and it is still extremely painful.
Mommy was told in April 2012 that you only had 2 years to live but did not believe it. How can my child be taken from me? Little did I realise that 2 years and 5 months later you would be taken from us.
The last 3 weeks of those 5 years that you were ill were the most heart-sore and the most difficult for me. I sat at your bedside in the hospital day after day, watching you fade more and more each day and I could do nothing about it.
I had to watch how difficult it was for you to wake up; how difficult it was just to breathe. You were craving hot chips and I went to buy them for you but you did not eat them. You got so many presents but did not take too much notice of them.
The day that the doctor called me in and told me your little body was too tired to fight any more made a little piece of my heart break off. I asked her… “My child is not going home with me, Hey?” She just shook her head and I knew it was time to say farewell to you. I phoned everyone and told them they must come. It was bad for me; I was in a stupor; I couldn’t eat, and I was too scared to fall asleep.
On the evening of the 17th October, when you were fast asleep, was the first time that I opened my Bible in 5 years. I read a bit and fell to my knees and in tears I prayed that Jesus would free you from the endless pain and suffering. That was the worst for me… to ask that the Lord must come and take my precious child, knowing that I would never again be able to hold you, or smother you with kisses, or take care of you… that was so painful for me, Bekkie.
On the 22nd I took you home, with the knowledge that you were not going to make it, but you wanted to go home, to lie in your own little bed. The next day your grandmother and others came, and you really struggled to breathe. I was so petrified to go to sleep that night because I was scared that you would already be gone when I woke up.
Mommy sat on the bed next to you, and just stared at you for a bit. I rubbed your head and put my hand on your heart; I told Pappa that your heart was beating very fast. I gave you a kiss on the cheek and told you to rest easy, we will be OK. You looked at me and then closed your eyes again.
I woke up the next morning and heard that silence, and I knew what awaited me, but I half avoided it. I went to the kitchen to make your sister’s sandwiches for school, but then decided to first go and see if you were OK.
Mommy stood at your room door for a while before I could put the light on, but then I gathered all my strength and courage and switched it on. I saw your lifeless body lying there and my heart missed a couple of beats. Pappa came to help and then we had to let everyone know that you had gone home.
That day was bad for me, but your funeral… to see all those people and to know that it was our final goodbye… I just wanted to go and curl up in a corner somewhere and never come out again.
I wrote you a letter from my heart, and added it to your funeral letter. I know you hear it… so listen closely what mommy has to say now:
Our Beloved Angel Child, You have had so many nicknames… Bekkie, Parra, Pikkewyn, Liefiekind, Spidercup, Roos… Our hearts are empty and sore, but we are so glad that you are FREE!
Your innocent eyes that shone with love… and that unmistakable smile when you crinkled your nose… will live in our thoughts and our hearts forever.
You are an enormous inspiration to thousands of people, and even though you were still small, you taught people to hope and to trust. You are unique, and nobody will ever take your place in our hearts. We love you to distraction and miss your little giggle every day.
As you always said, “Good Night… See you tomorrow…” so we now say to you “GOOD NIGHT, MY DARLING, SEE YOU AGAIN ONE DAY!”
Mommy misses you more every day, but knows that you are in a better place and that Jesus will take good care of you. Love you very, very much, my child.
Until I see you again… LOVE YOU ALWAYS!
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 18 of Xuané… a Reason to Smile tomorrow…