I held her hand tight and I said to her, my friend, please don’t push this pain away, even this virus, just let it be there. She kept on screaming and I felt like screaming with her but immediately I remembered my late fathers’ words saying that never cry in front of someone who needs your help instead encourage her to live. I looked at her thin bony cheeks and said to her, my friend can you feel that somehow, beyond your pain, beyond your fear and beyond your isolation, without trying to change them even a little, that somehow miraculously beyond all these things, somewhere there is place of peace and even ok-ness. Can you feel that? I asked her. Can you let yourself, without pushing any of the other pain and fear away? I asked her to melt into that place of peace and remember that somehow beyond reason, beyond anything she was ever been told, that somehow what is happening to her is ok and that beyond all this there is peace.
Her throat made a sound of affirmation, a kind of grunting as I moved deeper into a wordless participation with her. Beyond who I thought I was and beyond whom she imagined herself to be, we met in just being. The power and the connection of that moment were evident as our mind melted away. For that moment it felt like the whole world was composed of love. For nearly half and hour with our hands held tightly together, our eyes locked into space of vast love and caring, slowly, that face that had been drawn in such pain and distress melted into a smiling face. The hard lines of the chin and the gritting of her teeth slowly dissolved into a gentle smile, she looked at me and said yes, it is okay.
When I return the following morning, I asked her how was today, she said very different, the pain is still there but it is very different. I looked at her face and said; how your dying feeling today was? She looked at me and said; if death was the peace that we shared yesterday, then I am ready to go. I told her that there is so much more than this AIDS, even this aloneness, if she can just trust. She did hold my right hand and said I know, I feel much better now. I told her that she must always know that she has access to that place of peace within herself. She looked different but the truth was that her journey of life was nearly over even-thou she had the courage to live few more days. As I was about to leave her room I said to her, we are in this together and never forget that.
As I was leaving, I felt that my heart was filled with the immensity of her love as she let go of her pain and experiencing herself as something greater than her body. I promised her that I will see her the next day and she smiled and said yes, it is okay, so much love. What I didn’t want was for her to die alone in that tiny room because the fear of dying was bucking her terribly.
The following morning when I arrived she was struggling to breath and her brother phoned the ambulance but took time to arrive. I did encouraged her to relax, she was terrified and I said to her, do you remember that place of peace, go to it, let God breath for you, let each breath go into His heart, I repeated it over and over again, I can’t remember how many times now, I was shaking but caressing her brows as she began to be quiet, eventually becoming very still until she breathed out one last soft breath and melted quietly out of his tormented body. Her letting go felt like that of a little girl. As she dissolved out of this lifetime of pain and withdrawal, I continued to encourage to encourage her to go to God, I said to her, my friend trust the mercy that await you. I reminded her of that place of peace.
As I stroke her forehead after her final breath, I said to her, merge with the heart Jesus now, let go into the light of your sacred nature. Few minutes later she died. For me it was quiet a sad, special and interesting experience of my life as I never thought I will help someone by easing her pain and it was an experience that I felt might worth making some notes in my diary. To me it felt like I knew her all my life even-thou we met couple of days before she died. May her spirit rest in peace.
As we will be celebrating June 16 (youth day) and Mandela day soon, the lives and death of our hero’s and those who has fought so hard for our democracy, we remember their lives and death with pride because they fought so fearlessly for the rights of young and old people in this country. The youth of 1976 were brutally murder by security forces, families lost their sons and daughters but young people fought back with only stones and songs, they worked hard for freedom, they made sacrifices, some flew to neighboring countries while many died and some disappeared without trace. Hero’s like Hector Peterson were killed in cold blood at young age and we remember and celebrate their death with pride and joy because of their passion for making South Africa a democratic country today.
While celebrating this day we need to encourage and help the youth of today to look back at the life of the youth of 1976, their passion for education, democracy, leadership, integrity, responsibility, dedication etc. Youth today need to understand that with every Right there is a responsibility and it is their Rights to engage in sexual intercourse but it is their responsibility to use a condom. Death of young people in our communities is heart breaking and humiliating and difficult for families to talk about, but the pain left to young orphaned children is indescribable. Hector Peterson’s generation couldn’t avoid gunshot from the security forces but youth today can avoid being infected with HIV/AIDS or spreading HIV to other youth. And they can be HIV free.
These are some of the real life stories that we come across in our community and HIV/AIDS has made so many children vulnerable and distress. It has made its mark in our families and without our interventions and proper structures in place, orphaned children will be more distress and unable to live a progressive life.