The day I met your daughter seems like yesterday, although it’s more than three years ago. It was one of the most profound moments of my life. My children and I attended a birthday party at your daughter’s home. We walked in, said hallo to the other children and fussed over the birthday girl. Then I turned around and there she sat, three years old, breathtakingly beautiful with her curly hair and skin as white as snow, in her wheelchair. She was just admitted to the home. I asked the house mother who she was and only remember the words, ‘She was a normal child before this happened…’
I looked at my son who, a few months younger, was running around and laughing abundantly. Then I looked at her and went completely numb with the realization of what needs to happen to a child to go from where my son was to where she was. That place of realization is a very dark one. That night, my Facebook post read,
‘Tonight, somewhere in Pretoria, lies a little girl, blind, deaf and mercilessly battered and abused by the persons who were supposed to protect her. With her there are other children, abandoned, rejected and neglected. My world as I’ve known it, has changed forever. The harvest is big, the workers few. I cannot be naive, self-centered and blatantly ignorant anymore.’’
Over the next few weeks her story unfolded, one of her being left by you in the care of your then boyfriend who hurt her terribly and left her for dead. How, miraculously, she survived, but with severe brain and organ damage and in a vegetative state. How doctors found many bruises on her body in different stages of healing. How you were acquitted of any wrongdoing in a court of law, as you apparently didn’t know about the abuse and was never present, how your then boyfriend was sent to ten years in prison.
Over the past three years, I became part of an incredible team of caretakers and therapists who have looked after her. Men and women who took your and her father’s place. People who cared for her every minute of every day, fed her, bathed her, stroked her face during fits, prayed for her when she suddenly started crying unconsolably, talked to her. People who stayed with her when she had to go back to hospital for further operations, who tried their best to bring relief to her aching body. People who interceded for her, who have started to love her unconditionally. We experienced her ups and downs, the divine protection over her life, how her hearing returned and how she slowly but surely started to recognize our voices. People who have over the years became her eyes, ears, legs, hands and voice while taking care of her.
I mentioned before that my world has changed when she entered it. Motherhood has taken on a whole new meaning. I realized that God has given me the power to create life or death for my children. I realized that this power I have is sometimes frightening. I realized that I have to take responsibility for this power and use it wisely, with God’s grace, and that I will one day have to account for what I’ve done with it. I also started contemplating the all-important question, ‘What makes me a mother?’ And I came to understand that it has very little to do with giving birth. It has to do with waking up every morning and deciding anew that I will take care of my children, in the big and small things, every moment of that day and that I do it again the next day, and the next, and the next. It has to do with protecting them from any harm for as long as I can with the power that I have. And to sacrifice my selfish self for their greater good.
Timing is an amazing thing. Two days ago I met the advocate who fought for justice for your daughter when you were acquitted. I once again realized how severely she was hurt and how you failed to protect her. Yesterday we received word that you are applying for permanent custody of her. I pray that it will not happen. Not that it shouldn’t happen, don’t get me wrong. Just not yet. I pray that before this happens, you will make a choice to see her more than once or twice a week. I pray that you will take seriously what it truly means to take care of her, to equip yourself and to maybe not choose to always have a caretaker present who care for her when you are supposed to. But even more, I pray that you will find yourself able to take responsibility for your role in what happened to her. I pray that you will find the courage to confess that you failed miserably to protect her when she needed you most. I pray that you will ask for forgiveness and forgive as well. I also pray that you will start to be thankful for those who have tirelessly loved and cared for your daughter over the past years, those who sustained her. I pray that when you do this, healing and rehabilitation will start to happen. And I pray this especially because this is the only way that you will give your daughter her rightful place in your heart. I pray this because then you will find that you carry her best interests at heart and you will be able to start sacrificing yourself for her.
Until this happens, I pray that she will stay where she is just a while longer, where she is safe.
Yours most sincerely.