Saturday, September 24, 2011

After it all

It's unreal to think that nearly 2 weeks have gone since you left us. Sometimes I wonder if the last 2 years was all a dream. But then I see your sweet little face smiling at me from a frame on my wall. And I remember.

Life is not the same anymore. Everything is so simple now. We have moved into a new chapter. Would I change any of it? Well, if you asked me if I could have a choice between going through the last 2 years all over again, in the same way, or having never known you at all: I would do it all again. One hundred times over, to know you even for a day. As hard as it was, and there were some really hard days- with the advantage of hindsight I now see just HOW hard some days were- you, Mikayla... you were so worth it!

The week after you passed away was such a blur. We were so busy making various arrangements, it seemed to just fly by. But on the Thursday, your ashes came. That shattered me. Suddenly it was so real.

Then we had your service on the Friday. What an amazing tribute to the most amazing little girl. I even had something to say (surprise, surprise!). I thought I'd share here what we said at your Celebration of Life service, as well as the video I made for you. I hope we honored you. You were worth honoring.

I miss you. Last night I walked in the house (we'd been out to dinner to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, thanks to our wonderful friends, Dyl & Tes), and the carry cot you were always in, had some toys in it, and out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was you. But then I remembered.  I know where you are. I know that in Heaven you will have a new body. You are free. My friend Barbara had a dream about you: you were running around Heaven in a Minnie Mouse outfit, delighted at the fact that your arms and legs were doing what you wanted. And Jesus was with you- laughing at your delight. And I know that's just what is happening (ok, maybe not the Minnie Mouse outfit... Ha ha). I find comfort in knowing you are safe, and well, and that I will see your beautiful face again, and perhaps get to feel your arms wrapped around my neck, and you saying you love me.

We notice your absence. It's like an appendage no longer there. But we're doing okay. The boys miss you terribly. But we will always feel your absence... In time, it just won't ache as much, I guess.

My biggest fear is that I did not give you everything I could. My hope is that I DID honour you. That you knew it. So much of who I am, and who I want to be, is because of you. I don't want your story to end. I hope that you will continue to change people's lives... And if I am that vessel for that to happen, then my prayer is that God will open those doors for me, and give me the grace and the capacity to make that a reality.

I believe that as you left my arms, and Jesus held you on the other side, that He gazed down at you, and with a radiant smile on His face, said "well done, my good and faithful servant". You were not given a perfect body, or a perfect mind. You were not given a "full" earthly lifetime. But you gave us all so very much. So much more than we deserved. Thank you, my baby girl.

From the service on the 16th of September:

My eulogy to you:

"On the 08th of May 2010, a baby was born with Trisomy 18 otherwise known as Edwards Syndrome.

In an instant our world turned inside out.

I could tell you about heart defects, clenched hands, rocker bottom feet and webbed toes. I could tell you about delayed growth, mental retardation, poor eyesight or hearing. I could tell you the statistics of life expectancy and how 30% die in the first month, and 90% within the first year. I could tell you that this disorder is  "incompatible with life."

But I won't.

Instead, I'll tell you about a little girl with the biggest blue eyes you've ever seen. A smile that would light up an entire room, and the sweetest laugh. A little girl who loved her Daddy. Who's sweet little toes would curl when you touched her feet, and who would giggle at the feel of her Daddy's stubble. A little girl who's face would light up when her Daddy came into the room, and who just loved the attention of her brothers. A little girl who found her way into your heart, and made herself at home there. A little girl, who, by worldly standards, was nothing great, and yet she touched hundreds of people from all over the world, without having uttered a single word. That little girl was my daughter. Mikayla.

Miks, Thank you. Thank you for letting me be your mum. Thank you for showing me the value of life, and what really matters. You taught me so much about the human spirit through the generosity  and love of both friends and strangers alike. Thank you for showing me how amazing your Daddy is, for letting me see sides to him, and your brothers that I might not have seen. I am so proud of them. Thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives. You had a fighting spirit like no one I've ever known. You did not let your disorder define you, but rather carried the days of your life, numbered before the beginning of time, in Gods great book, with a gracefulness that far surpassed your years.

You changed me. Forever changed me. You somehow made me into a better person. I am quite simply better for having known you.

You. Are. My. Hero.

In an instant you changed our world the day you were born. And 491 days later, you took your last breath in my arms, and have again flipped my world inside out. I will miss you. Forever miss you.

I hope when I grow up, I'll be like you.

Fly high, my little warrior princess.

My song for you. The first and last song I ever sang to you:

"In my daughters eyes, I am a hero.
I am strong and wise, and I know no fear.
But the truth is plain to see, she was sent to rescue me,
I see who I wanna be, in my daughters eyes.

And when she wraps her hand around my finger,
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about
It's hanging on when your heart has had enough
Giving more when you feel like giving up,
I've seen the light... It's in my daughters eyes" " (In my Daughters Eyes - Martina McBride)

Daddy's eulogy to you:

I just want to share a few stories and lessons that I have learnt from my amazing little daughter.
Bath time is a family affair in our household. You never get to bath alone. There are always three, four and sometimes five of us in the bath at the same time at any one time. Strange I know. Somehow if you hear bath water running you just think - hey why not have a meeting in the bath and whoever is around just jumps right in. Now on a couple of occasions little Miks had the last laugh at these group bath sessions. You see she would wait until we were all properly lathered up and then she would quietly drop a number 2 in the bath. With much shouting and screaming we would all scrum to get out of the water first and dash to the nearest shower.

In the short 16 months little Mikayla taught me more about life than I could ever imagine teaching her in my entire lifetime.

She taught me what it means to to be me.

Everywhere we went and everyone that we met was influenced by Mikayla. We would meet new people at a  braai or family gathering and the next day they would phone or send a message about Mikayla. People reading Taryns blog etc. Everybody seemed to know Mikayla, but more importantly, they were influenced by her in a deep and positive way somehow. I have seen many strong burly men reduced to tears as God has softened their hearts through Mikayla’s story.

So how could a little 4 kg girl who couldn’t talk, couldn’t sit and in worldly standards was very different, influence hundreds, maybe thousands of people all over the world? You see little Mikayla would go to sleep and she would wake up and just BE Mikayla. All day she would just BE Mikayla. And then she would go to sleep and wake up and just BE Mikayla. All day she would just BE Mikayla.

We couldn’t compare her to anybody else. She didn’t have to strive to be like anybody else.  So by just being who God had created her to be, she was able to touch the hearts of thousands of people around the world. So I have learnt to just be me - and allow God to influence people through me. I don’t have to be anybody else.

I have never been more convinced of the goodness of God and how much God loves us than I am right now. Although death is very sad and we miss our little princess terribly, death has no power over us as a family.

John 3:16 say “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Because we have had to walk so close to death for a long period of time and I have had to explain death and heaven to my boys many times over the past 10 months, I can tell you that heaven is a wonderful place and I know that we will be reunited with our completely healed little daughter one day.

Although the past 16 months have been really tough at times, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It has been such a rich and powerful time for us as a family and as a community at large. My intimacy with God, Tat and my boys has grown so much and I have learnt things about them and myself that I would otherwise never have known.

Another lesson that little Miks taught me - and this is huge - is that I am not here for myself.

I am not here living on this earth for myself and to satisfy myself. The purpose of little Mikayla’s life and all of her struggles were not for herself, they were for all of us. We are the ones that were effected by and benefitted from her life. She added value to all of us.

To put it into context I want to share the story where Jesus feeds the 5000: John 6 vs 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish,

You see the little boy didn’t need lunch. He didn’t need to be fed. He had his lunch. There were 5000 other hungry people that benefitted from his lunch.

The fight, the courage, the joy that Mikayla  bought to each of us wasn’t for HER benefit it was for all of US. None of us is here to live for ourselves, we are all here to benefit and serve others.
So I have to ask myself “what am I doing with the five small barley loaves and two small fish that God has given me?” Whose life can I add value too? Who can I serve while I am here on earth?
It is a phenomenal question and one that little Mikayla could answer - All of us.

The video we played:

The Balloon release:

At the end of the service we released 491 balloons: 490 white and one pink balloon. One for every day of your life. It was beautiful to watch. How quickly they were gone. Some pics that friends took:

Can you see the pink one here... I watched it go, until I couldn't see it anymore....

As you fly high with the angels, Miks, and as we learn to carry on life without you here. I know that there will not be a day that goes by that I don't think of you. There are times that it will be hard: like this morning, when I moved the bed, and it made a sound that for an instant sounded like your giggle... and I sat on the bed and wept..... and there are times it will be easy, as we remember fondly of the wonderful part you played for your brief time in our family, and our community.

As I said at your service. You Changed Me. Forever Changed Me... and I will Miss You. Forever Miss You.

Lord Jesus, please take care of my baby girl, until I see her again.


  1. Tat Russ and boys, I love you with all my heart. Your family has changed me profoundly because of Miks. I watched her day by day through your blogs and FB shares and her little spark uplifted me through so much. I like to think that she becomes the flame in all of us. My heart is with you. Love always Philly and boys

  2. Wow, Taryn, what an amazing tribute to Mikayla and your entire family! You are truly blessed... and a blessing to all. xxx

  3. Dear Taryn,
    You may or may not remember me and Dave....Dave was the youthworker at All Souls when you guys joined the cell group just before we returned to the UK after Noah was born.

    I just wanted to say that I think you are amazing! I picked up your blog via Tes's facebook page and have read pretty much every blog, crying and laughing along the way!
    I work as a children's physiotherapist on a children's neuro ward so see a lot of children and families in similar situations. We also went through a similar situation with some close friends here in the UK. Izzy and I found out we were pregnant at almost the same time, 6 weeks apart. At the 20 weeks scan they found out that Isaac had a diaphragmatic hernia and that he had a 50:50 chance of survival at birth. He lived 8 days. Joshua was born 6 weeks later and we miss Isaac everytime our families are together. 2 and a half years later they are cautiously expecting...all ok so far at 14 weeks. They, like you have been INSPIRATIONAL in their faith and trust in God and have impacted people near and far. I pray that you continue to discover what your journey with Mikayla has taught you, your family, friends close by and those yet to be met and that you will continue to be able to inspire and support others who are travelling on similar journeys.
    With much love,
    Rachel, David, Noah and Joshua Keetley
    P.S Ask Tes if you are wondering who on earth we are!!!....And give her a big hug from me...I miss her lots! We hope to come visit Linc when we can save enough pennies to get us over to S.A for a holiday xxxx