Saturday, March 24, 2012

Farewell my friend

Dear Auntie Mave,

I would like to congratulate you on conquering your one greatest fears- death.

I'm told that you went like a real lady, I wish I could have been there for you.

For me I feel like the world has lost something unique and a great event that will never happen again has ended.

When someone dies those left behind gather up all the memories they can and hold onto them.

I would like to share my memories:

There were times of stress: You let me sleep on the floor of your tiny one bedroom flat for two months when I had no where to go. There was the day I got so sick I could hardly breath. You spent £12 of your own money (which is a lot for a pensioner) to take a taxi to the doctors. You held my hand all the way there and refused to leave until they had checked every inch of me.

There was the bizarre: Your very FRANK conversations about the 'facts of life' were rather shocking at first!. One thing is for sure you were NEVER afraid to speak your mind. I shall also miss your tendency to burst into song in the middle of a serious conversation or suddenly jump up and do a random dance!

Then there are the fabulous and magical memories which I will always hold very close to my heart: Our nights out at the theatre and shopping sprees. Dinner parties for two (where you tended to drink a shocking amount wine). I will treasure all those talks we had deep into the night. I was glad to have found a kindred night owl in you...someone to go to bed with at 5am and sleep until 2pm.

Despite your eternal outspokeness your heart was still an ocean of secrets that I always hoped you would one day make peace with. When I think of you I think of that poem by Robert Frost, "The road less travelled".

You knew me during the one happiest periods of my life. You made London come alive for me, fill of vibrant colours and magic. Every street corner had a story.

I must confess that I feel very alone knowing you are no longer part of this world. But I am grateful to God for our friendship and our time together. I will walk with your love in my heart, your wisdom in my hands and your grace in my step for the rest of my life.

Thank you for always being you (without fail!), for your friendship and for loving me so unconditionally with all your heart.

I shall now go out and get myself a fabulous pair of red heels in honour of you!

All my love Auntie Mave,


Mavis Winifred Knoesen
1932 - 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Magical Friendship Fairy Tale…

I follow many blogs. Some are informational, some are funny, some fascinating, some are downright controversial...I like those the best :) As a result I come across many amazing and unbelievable stories. I am so thankful that I live in a world where technology allows me discover things about people and the world that I might have not known had I lived in another time.

Once in a while I come across a story so incredible that I spend days thinking about it. I have been spending a tranquil day at my sister's flat with her, my Mom and her house mate. During the course of the afternoon, my sister read us a post from a blog written by a twenty- six year old South African girl who has just been re-diagnosed with leukaemia for the third time. It doesn't take a smart person to figure out signs of battling this disease for a third time are not good. What makes this story all the more tragic is that she is the last surviving child of her parents. Her brother went missing a few years ago and her sister died during operation.

I admire this girl- her name is Lucille- not just for her bravery but because of her honesty. Having been a victim of a rather serious physical illness myself I remember the enormous pressure I felt to always be optimistic. To never show I was in pain or afraid because I feared hurting the people I loved. Lucille is full of hope, Lucille is brave and a beautiful person. But she knows that things are not okay, she is afraid and angry that life has dealt her and family this brutal card. She uses her blog write all of these feelings down and to express her love for her loved ones. She is not afraid to talk about what everyone is trying not talk about: the inevitable. There is a good chance she will die.

I encourage to read the blog of this beautiful girl, who's wisdom, bravery and honesty amaze. We all have problems both big and small, but once in a while I believe that we all need to be reminded to be thankful for what we've got and it is not the end of the world. I am including a post that was written straight from her heart to a friend she meet on Twitter.

Be blessed Lucille xoxo:

A Magical Friendship Fairy Tale…

Once upon a time in land far, far away..
Okay no, this is the tale of a story that happened, is happening right under my nose every single day.
I used to think that friendship starts with a smile…
Reaching for the same crayon…
Being on the same sports team…
Listening to the same music…
Lifting as heavy as the other guy…
But this friendship started in an odd way, by a follow:

I followed right back, of course, he’s a CT Runner… ((again, 2 of my favourite things))
We never said anything to each other, other than a few random retweets and “Good Luck”‘s and of course I read every tweet of his about his running journeys in the beautiful city of Cape Town.  It wasn’t until December last year when we both expressed our absolute dislike of broadcast messages on bbm and how that guarantees a straight delete that I decided that I could sure as pie get along with someone like that… This is the beginning, after the beginning of this tale…


It was right before Christmas 2011, while out at an end of year function where you were drinking too much, uhm, let’s call it awesome juice… and your typing absolutely sucked (keeping it real), but even though it looked something like this “candrjoja ojdjroejodkj kdj” I still made out every word and answered you like it was no big deal.  I’m an expert in slurred typing :/ lol.  It got to a point where you could see you made no sense, and you quoted me this:
“Me Tarzan, You Jane”

and that was it – that moment right there, that was the moment this friendship began.
I just remember us getting along really great, talking about running and awesome things like the beach and Cape Town and I thought you were absolutely great, and weird and a little bit insane – but you laughed at my lame jokes and that has been absolutely priceless to me.

Me Tarzan, You Jane

You were even goofy, yep said it, enough to watch Tarzan “with” me, although we’re 1405,3 km’s apart – made my soul happy that you’d do something so silly for me.
On Thursday, 19 January I was rediagnosed with Leukemia.
On that day I felt like my entire world fell apart, that everything I was trying to achieve and build up to was never going to happen.
Matt, you were one of the first people who I told the news to – which is insane, because I have obvious trouble dealing with real things.  I would much rather make jokes and be lighthearted than admit I’m falling apart, but with you it was okay to have this severe experience of being human…
I remember the first words you said to me after I gave you the news was this: “It’s ok Lu, it’s ok” and then you sent me the link to this song

The words in this song that struck me the most was

It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.Seasons are changingAnd waves are crashingAnd stars are falling all for usDays grow longer and nights grow shorterI can show you I’ll be the one
I will never let you fall (let you fall)
I’ll stand up with you forever
I’ll be there for you through it all (through it all)
Even if saving you sends me to heaven
Matty, you haven’t let me fall.  Not once.  No matter how tough treatment got, no matter what news I shared with you, you always responded with the same “It’s ok Lu, it’s ok”.  Somehow we have this insane connection – I remember a few days after treatment started, as I was having one of my just past 1am nausea attacks, without saying anything to you ~ you sent me a message telling me that everything will be okay. Ha! Coincidence? Maybe.  But this wasn’t the only time it happened, it has happened throughout.  When the rest of the world was telling me to get up, be strong and fight, you told me that it was okay to be weak for a bit.

Never leaves my side 

Matty, today was one of those hard days – one of those not so strong days.  Today I felt my body start to give in, piece by piece.  Gosh a few times during the night I wished, hoped to just be rid of the feeling.  I’m ashamed to say, I wanted it all to be over.  I was ready to let go of life, but I kept strong, I held on, because  “It’s ok Lu, it’s ok”.  Earlier when I woke up and read your messages, I got these flashbacks from the day we met… I never told you, but hugging you for the first time wasn’t weird or awkward at all – it felt like hugging an old friend again.  You made me laugh and smile and even that night when I wasn’t feeling well you told me “It’s ok Lu, it’s ok” and you took my hand and just held me.  Magical moments, memories that keep me strong.  You went running for us tonight Matt, for your legs and my heart and you took me beautiful pictures of the scenery of my, our Cape Town.  I’m good with words, but the feelings spilling over my cheeks as the tears leave my eyes is the best way to describe how I feel about this gesture.  It felt like I was right there with you, only in my mind we’re running that route but sweating heavily and smiling, not crying. :)

There are no guarantees in life, but Matty, you’ve made me see that it doesn’t matter how many times my stupid pride tries to push you away – you’ll stay.
Thank you for being a shoulder I can soak with my tears, thank you for fighting away my fears.  Thank you for making me smile, no matter how much life gets me down.  Thank you for making me live this magical friendship fairy tale every day!!
Sometimes a hero isn’t the person who will run into burning buildings or shield you from danger – sometimes a hero is the person who will stand beside you, hold your hand and whisper quietly“It’s ok Lu, it’s ok” .  Matty, you’re my hero.
If I can’t hold on long enough to be your friend always, I need to say to you:
It’s okay Matty, it’s okay…
You know…

Thursday, March 15, 2012

5 years

5 years
This is an obituary for Stephanie Gwen. She was born in America but grew up in South Africa. She loved nature and dogs. She wanted to have a dog farm when she grew up to give a home to all the abandoned and unwanted dogs in the world. Her favorite food was chocolate. She believed in God and felt guilty because pleasing him seemed impossible. She loved the theatre more than anything else. Her favorite plays were Phantom of the Opera and Oliver! Andrew Lloyd Webber was her hero. Her greatest dream was to act in his musicals. Unfortunately although she held the heart and talent for acting she couldn’t sing or dance very well so being in a Lloyd Webber musical was out of the question. Stephanie grew up in a beautiful small town right underneath a magnificent mountain range. She dreamed of seeing the world, seeing all wonders that were in books and on TV. Stephanie was in awe of the splendor of the world she lived in, of the sky at dawn and at dusk, of the ocean and trees and the stars. She was so happy and grateful to be alive in such a world and would find pleasure in the smallest thing. She had a gift of inner peace that helped her to hope for a better future no matter what heartache and chaos surrounded her. When she was 21 years old one of her greatest desires came true when she moved to London. There she had to work very hard to survive but she had never been so happy in her life. She made many friends and had even more adventures. After and year and a half she left England to get to know America…the land she was born in.
5 years ago I was born….Stephi. It was 5 years ago this week that I had my break down in America. 5 years ago I was put onto antidepressants and have been on them ever since. At 02:50 am on the 14 March 2007 I woke up and found that the girl that I had been all my life had died and there was a new person in her place. Everything that I believed in was gone. There was no God. The world no longer held any splendor for me, I forgot all my dreams. The dreamy, loving girl, always full of hope was replaced with an angry, cynical cold hearted woman. It was like something had sucked the life out of me and left me hollow. Ever since then the world has became devoid of colour and totally joyless. Happiness became and impossible distant memory. The antidepressants saved my life but they have dulled my heart to the point that I am unfeeling of any kind of emotion.
But despite my cold, unfeeling heart I miss Stephi, the girl I once was. So every year during this week in March I celebrate her life. I light a candle next to the last picture that was taken of me before my breakdown. The difference between that picture and pictures taken of me after my breakdown is visible. This year I am living in temporary accommodation and all my stuff, including that photograph is in storage. So I have used a silver ring that I bought in England and some earrings that my friend gave as a memento of my former self.
As I always believe in looking for hidden blessings even in the most awful circumstances, I also use this time to remember the blessings that came out of that period of my life. I met one of the best friends I ever had, a girl who had known me for two months before I had my breakdown. She should have been really freaked out by what she was seeing and run for the hills. But she stayed and helped me get well. She saved my life, I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t had her there.
And of course the other blessing would be that I am alive, I made it through. I thought that week in 2007 would be my last. I was sure I would never see my family in South Africa again. I was losing myself, dancing along the edge of insanity and I wandered when the moment would come when I would cross the point of no return. But yet five years later here I am. I can’t say my life has gotten any better it has been so hard. I have had to mourn and get to know myself again. But at least I have dreams. Whether or not they come true is irrelevant. I want a better life.
So this is in memory of Stephanie Gwen and acknowledging Stephi and the road that I am still travelling.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all – 2 Corinthians 4:17