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.