Saturday 30th May 2009. It was my cousin's wedding reception day. We were welcoming the bride and her family into the big, happy family with some kind of traditional wedding rituals and merry-making. Started off the day fine- the night before we started the preparations; flowers, backdrops, cooking ingredients etc. It was a night when all extended family members happily forgo sleep to prepare for the big day the next day. A night of catching up with cousins and relatives over a cup of tea, baileys and a can or two of beer. Oh, how we all had fun...
The next day we were busy cooking and preparing a few final details before the bride's family finally arrived, all the way from the neighbouring state. Well, not quite. They camped in the local holiday house/retreat house actually since two days before but only to be formally accepted in the family on that big day. So the ceremony started. Everyone was in a celebrating mood...then grief came very unexpectedly.
My cousin got the news from a friend. Her best friend, 16 (a week short of turning 17), along with two younger sisters aged 14 and 8 had drowned. At that time we didn't know exactly what happened, how that happened. The mood suddenly changed...a teardrop of my cousin and we all started feeling the pain. My older cousin took my cousin, my younger brother and two other cousins to visit the friend's mourning household. It was most difficult for us to maintain the celebration mood. We tried because it was the right thing to do. We danced and we sang, and yet our hearts were grieving for three young souls whose short existence were snapped off cruelly to the human understanding.
When my cousins returned from visiting the grieving household, we were told the story amidst tears. The girls' family had a picnic by the river. No one realized that they were gone. One moment they were frolicking by the river bank. The next moment they were all found lifeless, two at the bottom of the river, one adrift nearby. Their mom who's at a late stage of pregnancy was unconsolable. Three girls were taken away from her all at once, without even a final good bye. My heart goes out to my cousin who lost a best friend, but also to the parents who lost three lovely daughters...No words could possibly express the pain they felt, and still do. I offered up a little prayer for the souls, rest in peace. And the family- may they be strong to face the difficult time. And my sweet cousin- a young heart is broken into pieces but God will surely heal her in time. May she be strong enough to accept this thing that is beyond anyone's control.
At a spur of the moment, joy turned to grief...I wonder if ever grief turns to joy as fast? God bless the little souls. Please God strenghten the grieving hearts especially the family who lost their lovely ones.
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