Happy Birthday Laura

Two years ago I wrote this tribute to Laura. I cannot write a new tribute to her today. I decided earlier this year that I needed to distance myself from her, somehow, and have stopped the daily early morning ritual of going through her life, almost living it myself, to thinking of her every day, a few times a day, and not going beyond that. So for the time being I block what I cannot face.

“On 1 July 1976, forty-six years ago, Laura was born. Since her death, I have focussed more on the day she died than the day she was born. In reality, I couldn’t face her. At the moment it’s balanced. She was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. In her luggage I found the card from the hospital, folded over at the top, hiding the details of her ‘defect’. She had many operations, which she bore bravely, including a bone graft taken from her one hip to fuse her gums together, and a pharyngeal flap to help her speech. The final operation was when she was 31 years old, shortly before she left for the Middle East, to refine her scars and to build up the tip of her nose a little more. Her journey was long and hard. After she had been in the Middle East for a while I thought that she was finally at peace with the ‘defect’, but I was wrong. In the early hours of the morning of her death, she shared a post on her Facebook, using the ‘only me’ posting option, so no one else could see it. ‘Today I will learn to reject shame. Shame is an overwhelming sense that who I am is not good enough. I realize that I am good enough and that my imperfections are part of being human. I let go of shame’. She had the courage to go on a huge adventure to the Middle East, and the courage to love Mubarak with all her heart, unconditionally, where many people love with half a heart or less. She was beautiful and exotic, and wise beyond her years, understanding the truth of what life should really be about, left behind in notes, emails and pieces of paper, in the luggage, I was never meant to find, simplicity in life. Today I pay tribute to my daughter, also known as Nura, Noura and Moon Child. I know that you are at peace.

I love you, Laura.”

A passport photograph of Laura
As a young girl, happy to be back in South Africa
As a rebellious teenager
A photograph I took of Laura on Christmas day many years before her death
One of the last photographs I took of Laura on Christmas day 2012

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