sivuyisiwe mazwwane

Sivuyisiwe Mazwane – Focus on blessings, not the loss


Last year, Sivuyisiwe Mazwane lost her best friend, her mother. Finding hope beyond grief is hard, but as Sivuyisiwe shows it is possible.

The youngest of four children, Sivuyisiwe at 17 never had much of a connection with her siblings or her father and always felt most comfortable with her mother. “My siblings are much older than me and my father was mostly at work so we hardly talked. So my mom would be the one that always spent time with me. We would talk about our lives while she was busy with housework, I really value those moments, I get really emotional thinking about those times because I miss her very much.”

Growing up in Gugulethu, Sivuyisiwe is very shy and doesn’t have many friends at school, but she always knew that if anything was bothering her she could talk to her mom and that she completely understood her.

“A time that really brought us closer was when I suddenly fell ill in Grade 9. I had woken up one day with a rash covering my body I remember feeling exhausted, my arms and legs felt so heavy that I could hardly move. So I had to stay in bed for months.”

During that time, Sivuyisiwe says that they visited many doctors and hospitals but no one knew what was causing her to feel ill.

“My mom would sit up with me at night, hold my hand and pray with me. She would always tell me to believe that I was going to get better and I did. She really taught and showed me what strength and faith was.”

“I would lie in bed and when I felt strong I would write about the way I was feeling.”

What was born in boredom, became something Sivuyisiwe attached all her emotions to – writing poetry.

“I felt better when I wrote about how I was feeling. It was like medicine for me.”

Five months later, Sivuyisiwe felt healthy enough to go back to school. With no answers to what caused her daughter’s illness her mother chose to put her in a school closer to home.

“Everything was really great at home, I was happier in my new school and was really happy to be healthy again, but then last year, everything changed.”

When Sivuysiwe was 16, her mother fell ill and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. “It was one of the hardest times we went through, my mom got very sick and couldn’t get out of bed. We had to do everything for her, feed her and make sure she was clean – everything she would do for us when we were younger.”

“We would always be worrying if she was going to be okay. But I think we all knew that she wouldn’t make it.”

By December of that year, Sivuyisiwe’s mother’s illness got worse and she was admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital.

Four days later a Doctor called Sivuyisiwe’s father and told him that the family needs to get to the hospital urgently.

“We took a taxi from Gugulethu to Groote Schuur and the ride was one of the saddest I’ve been on. I remember pressing my head against the cold window of the taxi and feeling the warm tears on my face – I just knew my mom had died. I felt broken. But kept hearing my mom’s voice in my mind telling me to be strong.”

Even though they never had a strong bond, Sivuyisiwe and her siblings relied on each other during this time and the relationship with her father also grew stronger.

The time that followed, Sivuyisiwe says that she just wanted to get back to normal, and returned to school a day after returning from the Eastern Cape where her mom was buried.

“I stepped into my first class ready to do well because I knew my mom would want me to carry on, work hard and get great marks at school.”

Charging forward into her life with conviction to succeed, Sivuyisiwe says that a big part of healing is allowing yourself to feel sad sometimes.

“There are days when I really miss my mom, on those days I remember her smile and go to church, a place where we had many special moments and I feel her there.”

Sivuyisiwe ended by saying, “I have decided to treasure the fact that I had such a special mom even if it was for a short time. Better to focus on all the blessings she brought to my life than to focus on the fact that she is gone. I know she would be proud of my decision, after all she taught me well.”

Sivuyisiwe is a Leaders’ Quest participant, an intervention offered by Salesian Life Choices.

Immediately after her mom’s passing, Sivuyisiwe wrote this poem

The very first time I opened my eyes … it is her that I saw … her warmth embrace me and … I felt safe in her arms.

Sivuyisiwe (meaning “we’ve been made happy”) … she said when she named me … then I knew for sure that my presence make her happy … she taught me how to say “mama” and held my hand when I took my first step … special I felt because of her unconditional love … then suddently, like a thief … Death snatched away my happiness … my heart used to dwell on her … now that she is gone … my heart wonders … with no place to call home … broken and alone, I weep … my pain cannot be seen and my cries cannot be heard … she was my shelter in ragging storms … my super woman … my sunshine … without her I walk in darkness … my heart has no reason to flow … because she was my everything. 

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