A sharp turn into grief

The morning of 13 April 2017, I believe God had already begun to prepare me for what was to come, little did I know. My daughter Anri and I were lying on the bed for her morning nap. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my son Cassie standing by the bed teasing us as only he could. Anri woke suddenly and looked in the same direction where I’d seen him.

I knew the uncomfortable feeling in me was due to the fact that Cassie wasn’t really there because he was with his father, who I rang just to make sure everything was okay and he reassured me everything was fine – they were in the fields (my husband has his own farm).

Anri and her brother’s birthdays are almost a month apart so we decided to celebrate them together. When Anri turned one on 18 April, we had an unplanned party and sang to her at their grandmother’s house. The party for both children would be held on 29 April.

On the evening of 18 April, the night before Cassie was to start at his new school, he asked his father to climb into bed with him at about 9pm. Just before 7am the next day, he followed me into the kitchen excited to start a new school. Little did I know that our lives were about to change forever on 19 April.

“Just after midday I received a phone call from the school asking me to come there – that something had happened to Cassie.”

Just after midday I received a phone call from the school asking me to come there as something had happened to Cassie. My legs were so weak I could hardly drive. I called my husband and asked him to go to the school as he was closer. I then called the school and they told me they were on route to Dr Albertse, the town doctor.

On my way to Cassie’s school I stopped on a sharp turn and immediately called my husband to tell him Cassie was dead, but I still didn’t know what had happened. After I hung up the call, a white car with its emergency lights flashing sped past me and I just knew Cassie was in it. I followed them and when we arrived at the doctor’s consulting rooms I watched as they took his blue-faced, limp little body from the car.

“Is he dead?” I asked and the teacher replied, “No, he choked on a peg from a pegboard.”

The wait at Dr Albertse felt endless and twice I felt faint. My child was dead. Anri just had to wait with the chemist while I prayed – everyone there prayed. The paramedic arrived at the rooms after a while and managed to get the peg out of Cassie’s throat, but he couldn’t find a pulse. There was still much hope when Cassie was rushed by ambulance to hospital, accompanied by his father. My emotions were in turmoil. On the one hand I hoped my son was still alive but on the other hand I knew was dead.

At the hospital where the doctor has privileges, she tried her best to revive my son but came out a short time later to tell us that he was no longer with us. The calmness I felt was more about not wanting to accept his death and so I didn’t want to hold him. Thankfully, our counsellor who was also there that day convinced me to touch him and to lie down with him and hold him. I had to say goodbye to him. This was a farewell I had hoped I would never ever have to make.

He was so still small, just four years, 11 months and four days old; my oldest, the centre of my heart. I hadn’t known what had happened to him yet I knew on that sharp turn in the road that he was gone. I asked the teacher where he had passed away and she said it was at that point on the road that he had last squeezed her hand.

I believe the Lord prepared me for Cassie’s death on 13 April 2017 – God is great and greater than we know. From that day on we clung to God; without Him we wouldn’t have made it. I wanted everything about Cassie’s funeral to be beautiful and perfect. Their party would have been the Saturday before his funeral on the Wednesday. I had such a strange feeling of excitement within me that I attributed to their party, but the more I think about it the more I realise it was knowing that he was safe with Jesus.

At 1am of 24 January 2018 it rained heavily. I woke up suddenly and just wanted to go to his grave and wrap him in something warm. I prayed and asked God for the peace to fall asleep again. In my dream, my husband and I were in a small boat with Cassie and his small coffin. His spirit was a golden colour and, with a broad smile, he took his coffin and threw it into the water.

A calmness overcame me and I knew that Cassie wasn’t in his grave on earth, but happy in with Jesus.

The story of Henri and Angelique Coetzee from Koster (NW province) written by Rosemary Brandt. 

Also read:

A story of loss & hope
Supporting bereaved parents through stillbirth & pregnancy loss

Pieces and informative content provided by the BabyYumYum community members.