“We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval and His approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out His love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.”
My name is Natasha van Schalkwyk. But who is Natasha? I am the wife of (sorry to say this ladies) the most amazing husband ever. He is my rock, he is a man of God and my best friend.
I am also a mother. I know we all think that our children are angels. I am very proud to say that I am the mother of a true, real life angel. Aiodhon. A beautiful soul. A warrior of God.
But most importantly of who I am today is… I am the daughter of the King of Kings!
I am the owner of Mamma Mia, I love crafting and painting and to read. I enjoy a good love story. Now if you ever want to read the most beautiful love story, go to you Bible and read the story of a man called Jesus. He was a human just like us. He carried a cross and was crucified on that cross. He died for all our sins. He rose from the dead and is living today.
I am a very big advocate of prayer, even to this day, and love testimonies. These 2 things go hand in hand, because after lots of prayers and faith in those prayers, testimonies are born. Testimonies are stories of life and death, of prayers and of faith. Today I am going to tell you our testimony. Ours is a little different. It is a story of life, death and of eternity!
On 15 Feb 2018 I was getting ready for work. And as I started to put on my makeup, my son, Aiodhon, stood in the doorway. He was excited as always and he said: “mommy, do you know what we are studying in Bible class this year? You know we are big and the seniors in school? So we are discussing the day when Jesus is coming to fetch us with a new heaven and a new earth!” Immediately I said a quick prayer and asked God to give me the correct answer to the questions that are obviously coming my way. I mean, the end of time… Revelation!
I said,” and how do you feel about that day Aiodhon?” I will never forget that face, thrilled with excitement, his big blue eyes were shining and he had a smile that I have never seen before. “Mommy, I cannot wait, that day is going to be amazing!!!” and just there I got schooled by a 9 year old boy about Revelation. About religion. About life. He had all the answers….
Obviously that day I walked on cloud 9. It felt that we as parents, our families and the school have somewhere planted a seed and together we have been watering that seed. Now it is growing! I was so proud!
Friday, 16 Feb 2018, was the day that Aiodhon was going on his first camp ever. I dropped him off at school and we arranged that I will meet him at 12 so that we can exchange bags before they leave for the weekend. I went to work and unconsciously I took his bags with me into my office. I started to label everything in that bag. From his underwear right through to his toothpaste tube. As if someone, other than Aiodhon, will have to pack that bag for me…. At 12 I was at school, looking for Aiodhon. It was chaotic excitement that ruled the school grounds. I couldn’t find him. And all of a sudden I heard the most beautiful voice: “hello mommy!”
I had my mom speech prepared (we all have a mom speech) and as I started telling him this he just looked at me, he smiled and said: “mommy, I will be fine”. The thing that Aiodhon was most concerned about was, does he have enough money, just in case there was a child who didn’t have any. That was our Aiodhon, always thinking about the person next to him. I took photos of him and his friends and then… The big goodbye. He came to me and hugged me, a hug that I still feel to this day. His arms wrapped around my neck, his mouth by my ear, whispering… “I love you mommy, you are my best mom!” Whenever he said that I would tell him that I am only the best because I am his only mom. We laughed and he walked off. We had a saying, “I love you lots, bots, bietjie, bots, nots, whole wide world” He forgot to say it to me, I said it in my head and all of a sudden he hung from the bus and shouted: “in the whole wide world mommy! Tell Ockert I will see him soon.” He didn’t say he will see him Sunday or in a couple of days, he just said…. Soon…
I waved goodbye and our son left for the most beautiful place that a parent can ever send their child to. The Silver Cloud Lodge.
I left for work with an aching heart. As usual I prayed for him. I prayed all the way to work. I asked God to guide him, to keep him from harm and to bring him home safe. But that day I prayed a bit differently. I stopped at a traffic light and I prayed “Your will be done. Amen”
And it was done.
On 17 Feb, the Saturday, we were supposed to go and braai at dear friends of ours. That afternoon I took a bath and whilst doing this I heard my phone ring. I bathed quickly and went to see who phoned. It was a number that I did not know. I usually don’t call back but that day I felt an urge to call this number. It was a man, the headmaster of the school. There was an accident. Aiodhon fell out of a moving school bus, and Jesus caught him.
Now, if you haven’t lost a child, unfortunately I cannot describe the feelings and emotions that rippled through my body. The word best suited for this is “indescribable”.
There was chaos in our home that day. Obviously. This wasn’t just a death in our family. It was also a death in a school. A death in a community. I cannot remember everything that happened that day. But what I do remember is I was sitting in the living room, looking at photos of Aiodhon on my phone. I zoomed in on every little detail of that beautiful face. I was scared that I am going to forget him. And as I was doing this I didn’t pray. I had a very heated conversation with God. I told Him that he didn’t just die. He got ripped from this world! And then I asked God,
“WHO RIPPED OUR SON?”
Then something happened. I don’t know if this was just my imagination, or if this was the Holy Spirit or if this was God who answered me? But all of a sudden I felt alone in this chaotic house, I felt a warmth and comfort surrounding me and I heard the most magnificent voice.
“I DID, BECAUSE HE IS MINE!”
And then my phone started beeping and ringing. Calls and messages of parents who had stories to tell me, beautiful stories about Aiodhon. When they asked their children if they knew the boy who was in the accident, all replies were testimonies to his life….
“Yes mom, he used to tell us how COOL Jesus is!” OR “Yes mom that is the boy that always said his superhero is the best, if we asked who it is, Aiodhon would reply, it is Jesus.” OR my favourite: “Yes mom, when I started my 1st day in school I didn’t have any friends, then Aiodhon came to play with me and told me that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any friends, but you will always have a friend in Jesus”
Wow! His life’s work was done. A true disciple of Jesus. My soldier.
The other day I watched a video of a ’92 Olympian, Derek Redmond. I can’t remember what race he ran. But he was the ’hot favourite’ that day. He started strong, fast and able. But 250m before the finish he tore a ligament and tumbled to ground. That day Derek had one of 2 choices. He could stop the race, get carried off the field and have regrets for the rest of his life. OR he could stand up and hop towards the finish. He stood up and tried to go forward. There was a man who broke through the crowds and security. It was Derek’s father. He ran towards his son and told Derek: “You don’t have to do this.” & Derek replied, “Yes I do!”
And his father said: “Then let’s do this together!” Together they hopped towards the finish. Derek didn’t win a gold medal that day. But he won the race of life.
On 17 February 2018 the 3 of us were busy with our race. We started strong, fast and able. But something happened and we (Ockert and myself) tore the biggest muscle in our bodies. No, in fact it shattered. But Aiodhon won his race. It was his day to win!
Ockert and I fell to the ground. We had one of 2 choices. Either we can stop the race, get carried off the track and have regrets for the rest of our lives. OR we could stand up. And when we stood up, Jesus was right next to us, saying:
“Let’s do this together. Keep your eyes on the prize!”
And when we looked up, we saw that Aiodhon was standing there with God. Shouting for us to run as fast as we can. Aiodhon didn’t leave us. He only won his race.
In this journey that we call life you will experience the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Filled with colours of pinks, oranges and purple. But there will be days that you fly into a storm and when you open your eyes there will be a huge mountain in front of you, that you are going to crash into. But when that happens, sit back & relax….
Because with Jesus as you pilot and your Bible as GPS your final destination will be the most beautiful rewarding place that you can ever imagine. It will be a place with NO sorrow, NO pain or heartache and NO goodbyes, only an amazing hello.
So today I am not going to greet you with a farewell.
Today, I say to you…. Until we meet again.
Natasha van Schalkwyk