The Words of the de Souza Family
She was a lovely girl. We knew from the beginning that she had a problem with her heart that doctors had to repair. She had the operation at five months. The surgeon was very good, and he patched the hole, but in the intensive care something went wrong. She was doing well, and they pushed forward, probably thinking Sandra could not slip back. Yet she did slip back. Her heart stopped several times, which led to severe brain damage.
She lived. Some suggested it would have been better if she hadn't, but I was happy for every minute of her life. She lived twelve and a half years.
She was lovely. She was beautiful, very happy. She couldn't see. You couldn't tell, though, because her eyes were big and expressive. She couldn't speak. She couldn't walk. We took total care of her.
She was very responsive. That's why you wouldn't know she was blind. Though she was blind, she would direct herself toward you. When Marshall came home, he'd put his key in the door; she'd turn her head toward the door and she'd light up. She knew he was coming. She was very sensitive. Even if Marshall and I were not happy with each other, she would be happy just hearing our voices. Her reaction made us change.
She did go to school. England has a very good system of schooling. When someone can't do what normal children can do, they can still be cared for. She loved to have stories read to her. She loved songs. Everybody who spent time with her loved her. We had lots of support from family, friends and medical personnel. Even though it was the life of a disabled person, she had a very good life. She gave a lot to everybody.
From time to time, doctors would tell us she couldn't go on. At first they thought a maximum of two years. The last time it was "before she is ten." It would be impossible, they said, with all her complications -- heart, lungs and so on, to live longer than that.
She passed on in March 2003. I knew the time was coming. She had been gradually getting worse and had had to stop going to school the year before. The last year we stayed at home. We didn't even go into hospital. Doctors and consultants came to the house. She was on oxygen all the time. The last six months she needed a nurse every night. I wanted it to carry on, but I knew it couldn't carry on.
Our community was very good. There was lots of support. My son Matthew's school friends were even given time off school to come to the Seunghwa Ceremony with him. Many people came to ceremony. We were well supported; if there was any anguish, this helped to relieve it.
Some time after Sandra passed away, I had a dream. It was more than a dream, really -- much more. There was a beginning and an end. The beginning was that we were together shopping. I was with Sandra doing what I had longed to do with her since she was little -- go out with her. I was amazed by the fact that she was walking and talking.
The end was when I took her back to the house where she stayed. There were other young girls, of all races, who must have been of our second generation.
Sandra was one of the younger ones. The others were getting into gowns to go out for the evening. They were beautiful sisters, so happy together and so embracing. They were pulling me to come into the car with them. The dream suggested to me that Sandra was healthy in mind and body in the spiritual world, she was with other young people and she was happy.
Not long after Sandra passed away, Marshall went to Chung Pyung and received a special prayer candle and help with the official things to prepare. We prayed and waited for the time.
When we got the call, about the blessing and that Sandra had been matched, I was surprised and delighted. Suddenly the thought came to me that she is not a little girl now, she is eighteen years old.
I came to Chung Pyung with one sister, Joyce, who helped me. The whole experience was wonderful, and the brothers and sisters attending were from all matching groups and from all ages.
The couples were announced on Saturday. The family of my daughter's match had not been able to come from America. Fortunately, through the International Office I spoke to both the mother and the father. We spoke about what our children had been like, how they grew and how we lost them.
Before the blessing, I had two lovely experiences. The first was something my husband did. He and our son intended to participate from our home in London at exactly the same time the Blessing Ceremony was taking place in Korea. My phone call to let them know to whom Sandra was matched was met with excitement. He had purchased a celebration cake and had put up a banner and a favorite photograph.
The second was shopping for William. I had to buy his blessing gown and wedding ring. It was a nice feeling to serve the other family, and my son-in- law! One sister helped me prepare the dress for Sandra. It was a beautiful ceremony. It was nice to see the couples side by side, very beautiful and very moving.
Now I can feel that Sandra is eighteen years old. I must go home to England to welcome her and her husband! They will be able to come and go, visiting family to family whenever they choose. I think I will feel more connected to her than I ever have before.
Dae Mo Nim emphasizes that our lifestyle is very important. They are not just blessed members of the second generation. They are absolute, good spirits wanting to be with us. Although they are in the spiritual world, they are still dependant on their parents and because they are young, they need and want to be with us. We have to have a spiritual attitude all the time -- have the right spirit and a good atmosphere.
I look forward to our meeting William's parents and getting to know one another. Our de Souza family is small, and it is lovely to know it has been expanded through this blessing.
Marshall and Joanna de Souza were blessed in 1982