A Time to Be Born, A Time to Die

Last weekend I attended a baptism for Kulani, the son of my friends Florence and Rob. You may remember Florence and Rob — they took me to my first South African wedding last month.

St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Auckland Park, where Kulani’s baptism was held. It’s a small, intimate, beautiful church. Right around the corner from my house and I never knew it was there.

It was such a lovely ceremony. As I listened to the service, I remembered something that a family member of Jon’s told me in the days after he died. She said that new people are constantly being born, so others have to die. How else could the world continue?

Kulani actually came into the world a year ago — last weekend was a celebration of his first birthday as well as his baptism. The baptism reminded me of a day last year when I visited Kulani for the first time. I went to Florence’s house with Jon and my mother, who was visiting us from America. Kulani was only a week or two old. Jon took a beautiful photo that day, of Kulani with his beautiful mom.

Florence and Kulani, January 2011. (Photo courtesy of Jon/Joe)

And here are the mother and son, one year later.

Florence and Kulani, January 2012.

Florence, by the way, is an amazing woman. Many years ago, she suffered the worst possible loss a mother can have: Her baby daughter died. I didn’t know Florence then, but I can hardly imagine the pain she felt and how hard it must have been to go on. And yet she did. Florence started from nothing and went on to build a brilliant career. Eventually she got married, and today she has two beautiful, healthy little boys.

I have a feeling you’ll be reading much more about Florence on this blog in the future. For now, please read a little bit of her story here.

Here are a few more photos from Kulani’s baptism.

Kulani’s godfather waits outside the church with the guest of honor.

A young baptism guest.

The minister lights a candle to symbolize Kulani’s membership in the church.

Baptism complete, Kulani tries to make a break for it. This child crawls fast.

My friend Karen takes a group photo outside the church.

After the baptism, we all went back to Florence and Rob’s house for Kulani’s first birthday party.

Party guests making noise.

The highlight of the birthday celebration was, of course, the presentation of the birthday cake. I took a series of photos to commemorate it.

Waiting for the cake. Kulani is sitting next to his big brother, Alexander.

Florence catches Kulani’s hand, miliseconds before it sinks into the cake.

Big brother saves the day and blows out the candle. Kulani wasn’t slighted in the least.

Ever since Kulani’s celebration, I haven’t been able to get that line from the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” out of my head.

Like it or not, we all have a time to be born and a time to die. I’m still so damn angry that Jon’s time to die came so soon. There are moments — even now, five weeks later — when I simply can’t believe it. I can’t accept it. I keep hoping that somehow it isn’t true, because it just can’t be.

But watching that little boy at his birthday party, and seeing the huge smile on his mother’s face, reminds me that I have a lot to be thankful for. We all do.

Me and the birthday boy. (Photo courtesy of Karen Lim)

Thanks for the reminder, Kulani. I can’t wait to watch you grow up.

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22 Comments

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough January 23, 2012 at 12:22 am

    I’m sure it’s still intensely painful to have lost Jon. I can’t even imagine how huge it must be. I suppose it may be true that some have to die so that others can be born, but we don’t have to like it.

    Happy birthday, Kulani.

    Hugs,
    Kathy

  • Reply Claire January 23, 2012 at 5:48 am

    Beautiful post, Heather. I’m thinking of you, and know this is a hard time but I’m glad you are out there living life, despite feeling overwhelming sadness and anger. I am so sorry and hope that these reminders of what matters most, and all we have to be thankful for, keep finding you and giving you solace, putting a smile on your face. You are surrounded by love, and so still is Jon, so what more can we really ask for out of this life?

    • Reply 2summers January 23, 2012 at 8:19 am

      You’re right, of course 🙂

  • Reply landofnams January 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Beautiful post, Florence is such an inspiring woman!

  • Reply manuac January 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss, it might be very hard for you. I have no words but I leave you T.S.Eliot’s:
    ” What we call the beginning is often the end/ And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from”.
    I don’t know if they can make any sense or help. But they helped me.
    ciao

    • Reply 2summers January 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      That does help, and I totally agree with you and Mr. Eliot. Thank you.

  • Reply manuac January 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss, it might be very hard for you. I have no words but I leave you T.S.Eliot’s:
    ” What we call the beginning is often the end/ And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from”.
    I don’t know if they can make any sense or help. But they helped me.
    ciao

    • Reply 2summers January 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      That does help, and I totally agree with you and Mr. Eliot. Thank you.

  • Reply thirdeyemom January 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    What a beautiful post Heather and such a beautiful child. I am glad you have a child close to your heart and to watch grow. It is an amazing thing and your outlook on life and death is right on target in this post.

  • Reply thirdeyemom January 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    What a beautiful post Heather and such a beautiful child. I am glad you have a child close to your heart and to watch grow. It is an amazing thing and your outlook on life and death is right on target in this post.

  • Reply Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective January 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    What a wonderful photojournalism account of Kulani’s life thus far…beautiful photos!

    • Reply 2summers January 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks very much 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective January 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    What a wonderful photojournalism account of Kulani’s life thus far…beautiful photos!

    • Reply 2summers January 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks very much 🙂

  • Reply Slowvelder January 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing the link to Florence’s story.

  • Reply Slowvelder January 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing the link to Florence’s story.

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