Rebecca was just 2 years old when her mum Emma was diagnosed with leukaemia. When she was 7, her mum finally lost her battle with leukaemia. Here 14-year-old Rebecca explains in her own words why she believes Kenzie’s Gift is so vitally important to the lives of tamariki / children in Aotearoa New Zealand learning to live with grief.
“My mother, Emma Ball, was a paediatrician. She worked with children who had kidney disease.
When I was 2 years old my mum took the family to Australia so that she could study to become a specialist. It was there that she first developed leukaemia. I was only a toddler, so I have no memory of my mum when she was well. Many of my earliest memories were populated by hospital visits and trips to the intensive care unit. It was a life that was full of fear and sadness but also great love.
My mum seized every opportunity to let me know how much she loved me. Although my parents did their best to shield me from my mother’s illness and attendant fears it was always there. I believe that it shaped my early childhood and in many ways who I am today.
I was seven years old when my mother finally lost her battle with leukaemia. Now this seems a whole lifetime ago. Many of the details have faded and with it some of the pain but there are scars that remain.
One thing which I have not forgotten is the great support that I received from the psychotherapist that Kenzie’s Gift found for me. They arranged for me to see Lorna before my mum died and continued to support the sessions for me long after my mum had gone. I can’t say what made the difference. I do not know what words were said, or what strategies were used to help me heal.
I can tell you that it took a long time, and it took months of counselling. I am told that I was a very sad and quiet child, and it took a long time for me to open up. They say that time is a healer, but it is not time, it is the people that populate that time that help you to recover. Time itself only numbs the pain.
It was Kenzie’s Gift that found me the right person, it was Kenzie’s Gift who paid for her time. I am certain that I would not be the person I am today without them.
Thinking about my experience, I’ve written a message to #DearGrief.
I know that many people see you as an unwelcome guest, an ill wind that blows through their life. I don’t see you that way. I see you as a price that must paid for loving someone greatly.
Victor Hugo observed that ‘to love another person is to see the face of god’. I know that my mother loved me with all her heart and all her soul as only a mother can. I in turn loved my mother with a simple uncomplicated love of a child. Although I didn’t spend as much time with her as I would have liked, I know that I was loved and that I do not regret the price I paid.
I am so grateful to Nic and the rest of the team at Kenzie’s Gift.
The Māori have a proverb which I think is particularly poignant:
He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.”
If you’d like to support the valuable work that Kenzie’s Gift does, and the life-changing impacts we have on young Kiwis like Rebecca, please consider donating.