Saturday, 6 September 2008
I went to a funeral yesterday - or rather, I joined hundreds of people in celebrating a beautiful life.
For many years I was the principal of a special school in a provincial city. In the same year that I was appointed, a six year-old with Down syndrome was enrolled.
She had a major heart defect, and her parents had been told that she wouldn't survive infancy. Obviously, by the time she had started school, she had already proved the medicos wrong, and during the following years, with the help of an amazing family, she continued to do so.
Winter was always an anxious time, and more often than not, she'd end up in hospital receiving treatment after complications derived from the usual seasonal viruses that did the rounds.
Come spring, she'd bounce back, and the school garden with its colorful blooms would fade in the shadow of her smile. Her resilience, and the strength and faith of her family were often personally inspirational to me, and I'm sure to those who were privileged to teach her.
I retired at about the same time she headed off to high school, with hope in her heart, and supported by the pride and positive attitude of her parents.
She was about to turn seventeen and was involved in work experience and planning a future after school, when she died suddenly from cardiac arrest.
The music she loved (ABBA) was played at the service yesterday, and this transformed it into a celebration. The hundreds who attended reflected the amazing richness of the networks that had built up around her and her family.
Hers was an inspirational and beautiful life.
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