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This selfie with my sweet, inspirational and wonderful mom Carmel reminds me of the deep bond and unconditional love we share. (And the fact that I’m going to see her in less than three weeks for her birthday.)

It also reminds me of a very difficult time when I was a little boy growing up in South Africa.

It was in the middle of the night and I was sicker than I have ever been in my life. I had Glandular Fever which Dr. Berghaus was worried might develop into Rheumatic Fever.

I was as sick as a dog.

I had actually been confined to bed for a few months.

The dangerously high fever, that caused severe nosebleeds (and kept me in a pool of sweat for days) took great pleasure in creating horrific swirling hallucinations that scared me and made me mumble incoherently.

During that time I woke up in the middle of one night with an extremely high fever and felt so awful that I thought I was actually dying. My throat was parched and I had a terrible headache from dehydration.

I was frantically screaming for my mother from deep within my soul but all my mouth could do was groan. (I still have nightmares of trying to scream but no voice will come out.)

My parents were just a few rooms away and I wanted my mom to hold me because I didn’t want to die by myself.

I was petrified because I was trying desperately to cry out to my parents but they could not hear me groaning due to the terrific Transvaal thunderstorm that was brewing outside.

The fever rendered me so lame that I could not even drag myself out of bed.

It was an awful feeling.

The wind was wrestling with the bushes outside my window and the corresponding shadows on the wall looked like creatures from hell coming to take my life.

I squeezed my eye shuts, trying to get the images away.

Suddenly I knew something was in my room. I could just feel it.

I opened my eyes in a panic.

A shadow moved away from the wall and loomed over me.

I heard a soft whisper that mingled with the leaves rustling outside.

I could not hear what the voice said.

I did not want to hear what the voice said.

It was a hissing whisper and I was too afraid.

But the whisper came closer and closer and suddenly I could hear it clearly in my ear.

“It’s okay. It’s okay my boykie. I’m here.”

It was my mother.

I suddenly felt a cool cloth on my forehead and a glass of cold water in my hand.

I sipped the refreshing water letting it sooth the fire in my throat.

My mom fluffed the pillows, straightened the sheets and took the glass of water and placed it on the bedside table.

Then my ma did the sweetest thing. She climbed onto the bed and put her arms around me.

And lay with me.

And comforted me.

“It’s okay my boy.” She whispered in my ear. “Let’s try to sleep.”

My mom was sleeping next to me when I woke up to a deep blue Johannesburg sky outside my window. Her face was so sweet and caring and looked so peaceful as she slept.

I wanted my heart to be bigger so I could love her more.

I cuddled in closer to my ma and gently closed my eyes knowing everything was going to be okay.

And it was.

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