Early on Easter Monday, just before sunrise, I walked to one of my favourite places, a green belt near home that slopes down the valley, with a view of the mountain over the treetops, and reflected on how 23 years ago, on the other side of the world, my newborn son had been placed into my arms on a snowy day.
Now, watching the first rays as they appeared in a high gulley of the Helderberg, I closed my eyes and meditated upon the blessings that have prevailed, especially during the past week.
My beloved son’s life was in the hands of some of the top surgeons in this country (which would place them, I believe, among the top surgeons worldwide), and they brought the utmost skill and determination into the theatre during the afternoon hours last Tuesday.
To neurosurgeon Dr David Roytowski, and ENT surgeon Dr Pedro Monteiro, who performed the operation, and endocrinologist Dr Zane Stevens, at the new (and beautiful!) Christiaan Barnard Hospital on the Foreshore, and to Dr Elmo Pretorius from Vergelegen Medi-Clinc, thank you, with all my heart, for taking my Viking son under your wings, and into your capable hands and minds.
To the nurses at ICU, especially Monica, who bonded with him, and bantered and shared their own journeys while he convalesced those fraught first few days; you are an asset to your vocation, angels who move about on quiet feet, capably tending to the needs of the ill, afflicted and injured.
And unbelievably, on Good Friday (indeed!), my son came home. The journey of healing continues, but on a different footing now that this extraordinary surgery has been done. I witness the benefits of technology, and training, and am humbled anew by the level of interventions surgeons are capable of, in much less intrusive ways than in the past, with better outcomes.
I am also humbled, and so grateful, for the messages of love and concern that poured in, from as far as Alaska. A friend of mine said to me recently, when the shadow of the unknown was lying heavy on my heart, that the “circle of concern” is a most powerful dynamic; that prayers and uplifting thoughts liberate energies that we can only imagine – and I have witnessed this first-hand.
The thunderstorm that arrived seemed like a blessing from the heavens, the primal bolts of lightning scorching across the rain-drenched skies, and I was in a state of rapture, standing on the ninth floor of the hospital, looking at the panoramic views of the mighty Table Mountain, and welcoming Table Bay, thinking of the ships she has harboured over the centuries when the storms surged in.
I felt safely harboured, too, hearing the soft sounds of the machinery monitoring breathing, blood supply, oxygen flow and countless vital signs; walking up and down the corridors and sharing smiles, or words of support and concern with other patients and their family members, and feeling the presence, the power, of love.
A few weeks ago, we went for a walk up Tortoise Mountain, against Paarl Rock, and leapt about like klipspringers on the magnificent granite boulders, barefoot, with the sun on our shoulders.
A particularly magnificent rock there is shaped like a monolithic egg, split in half, and it is there that I am sitting in the picture above. It evoked a primitive sensation, like being birthed anew, and I felt the forces of nature, ancient and powerful, flood me with courage and equanimity for what lay ahead.
Thank you to all my beloveds: Lucia, who took in our dogs, and Doris, who cared for our cats and hare (and sent delightful messages and photos); to those who came to the hospital to visit (Lisa-Marie, Anita, Marie-Louise and Vic), friends and colleagues who sent constant messages of support and encouragement (including so many Bolander readers who have become friends) – I am graced, as is Jax, by your love.
Carolyn Frost – Editor