by Amida Sheffield
From Bhaktika & Sundari
Both of us have been a bit in hibernation, having had a visit from a virus all over the Christmas season which put us in bed for a week. A low energy time in a number of ways. But some amazing and wonderful moments.
Perhaps the most inspiring and extraordinary was just before Christmas, when we went to the funeral of a boy just over two years old. We have followed the story of his short life, which had turned out longer than anyone expected when he was born with a rare, incurable and progressive illness. We asked ourselves, what is the meaning of this short life? The letter written to Sam by his father and read at the funeral, gave the answer. Here is an extract:
‘Dear, dear Sam
How can I find the words to say goodbye to you? I’ll try and be as brave as you have been, because I want to tell you how much we have loved you and go on loving you. We will never stop loving you, little man.
I want to thank you Sam, for making us feel so proud. You must have laughed a million times in your short life and with each laugh, every chuckle, every gummy smile, you have made me feel as big as our house and like I must be the best dad in the world. I know I wasn’t but I am the proudest. When you woke in the mornings and you smiled at me, I felt warm for the rest of the day.
When you sang our silly songs with me I thought the world should stop and listen and when you drummed your tune, I, like you, thought the world should applaud. You were a super musician, Super, Super Sam.
Thank you Sam for showing me how its possible to live in the moment. You never worried about any time but now. If I showed you your coat you would wave and dance with excitement, and when we arrived home you would beam with pleasure. You loved being taken for a bath, you loved being taken out of the bath. You reached for every toy I held for you. You didn’t want to miss a thing. You squeezed a century’s happiness into twenty-eight months by just enjoying whatever you were doing and not worrying about tomorrows. You squeezed a century’s happiness into my life too, my wise little man.
We shared so many walks you and I, little boy. My foolish mind was so often already past our destination, and on some other task. But then I would glance down and see you delighting in everything in front of us. The sunlight, sketching shadows in front of your pram, a rain drop pulling down a leaf, clouds collapsing above the distant hills. You’d turn your head and smile up at me and made me realise I didn’t want to finish our walk. You slowed me down and stopped me rushing to do nothing important. I felt that I could walk forever with you. Nothing was ever as important as being with you my wise little boy. When I walk now I will feel your touch as I pass out of every shadow; every falling rain drop will echo of your voice and every cloud will remind me of you waving ‘hello’. But it will never be the same without you my son.
Thank you Sam for teaching me how much better it is to love than to resent. Sometimes, too many times, in looking after you, we had to do things to you that you didn’t like. But no matter what we did, or how we hurt you, you forgave us instantly. You never hesitated to get on with being happy. Bitterness never once entered you little heart or crossed your beautiful face. You showed only love and gratitude. I didn’t realise how love was made until you showed me that you just have to choose to give it. You gave out so much love our house was full. I want to be like you my wonderful boy.
Thank you for bringing so many amazing people into our lives, you adorable little boy. I didn’t think that there were people so kind, so generous, so skilled. Even when you were in that frantic hospital, everyone stopped for you, from cleaners to consultants; they all made an exception for you. You got people to break rules by breaking their hearts. I know it was something about you, but it is something inside them too. How did you bring these great men and women to us? How did you find people so special that they ripped up diaries, gave up sleep, that they worked so hard and that they worked so gently?’
There is more. It is a wonderful letter. No-one there (about 80 of us) could fail to be moved by the boy who was often near death, was always connected to tubes and tapes and did not contemplate a future, but had ‘squeezed a century’s happiness into 28 months’ and drew great love out of others, making ordinary people into great ones.
We wanted to share this.
Namo Amida Bu