Where did it all begin?
- The Namasté Story
Hilda de la Rosa
In January 1996 my son Clinton was in matric (final school year in South Africa). "Finally", I thought, "he is nearly off my hands!" Little did I know what lay ahead. I had had a psychic reading a couple of months prior to this occasion and was told that the near future would have rough patches, but that I would eventually be "talking to a great hall full of people" - lecturing. "And you will appear on radio and television" she said "about spirituality" she added. Well, I thought, she was crazy. So much for these weird people. This was so far removed from any likelihood - given my current circumstances.
I was very happy with my very successful career in the IT industry. I had my expense account and fabulous company car and all this together with my designer suits, made me feel on top of the world. In my spare time I was exploring alternatives like aromatherapy, reflexology, acupuncture and had even been for a couple of Tarot and psychic readings. I did not tell many of my friends though - since they may have felt that this was just too weird.
Then disaster struck. Clinton did not come home from his party the previous night. By 10 am I was worried sick. By 2pm I had spoken to all the local hospitals and police stations. At three in the afternoon, a police sergeant phoned and said that he had had a woman come in to report an accident involving a pedestrian, and that the description she gave of the victim sounded like it could be Clinton. He suggested that I phone Tygerberg Hospital's neuro-surgical department. I phoned - by the description of the clothes, I knew it was my son. I do not remember how I got to the Hospital.
The following few hours seem blurred. The hospital itself was in a terrible condition. It seemed dirty and unhygienic. I do remember that when I saw Clinton, I could not understand why the hospital staff had restrained him. I picked up the chart at the bottom of his bed and after many attempts at deciphering the medical jargon - I realised that he had sustained a serious head injury. Mostly, it said, Non responsive”. I could not find any hospital staff. No one could tell me what was going on. After some time - who knows how long - Clinton turned his head and the other side of his face became visible. Horror! This side of his face was badly damaged and bruised! Still no help from the staff.
I phoned my doctor and asked her to refer me to a private neuro- surgeon. He suggested we transfer Clinton to a private hospital. While I was waiting for the ambulance to arrive, inevitably one begins with the "what ifs". The wait seemed endless. Eventually the ambulance arrived. I followed it to the private Hospital and when we arrived there, an entire team of staff were awaiting our arrival. Clinton was placed in the intensive care unit. He was still in a coma. At least I could finally get some answers to some of my questions. As with any brain injury the prognosis was not very reassuring and no definite answers were forthcoming. There were many "wait and sees" and "can't tell at this stage". In the interim, I contacted all the "alternative" healers that I knew and asked them to come and assist with Clinton. The hospital staff was very helpful, but did not quite know how to react to the alternative healers. Some were sceptical, some were outright rude and others were quite accepting of it all.
Day by day and hour by hour I sat at Clinton's bed, sometimes just staring and other times, praying. I would talk to him all the time and tell him about my day. I asked his friends at school to record some of his classes - not in order for him to learn anything but just to play the familiar school sounds to him using a set of headphones. I did not know if any of this was making a difference but we, my friends, family and I, carried on regardless. I found out exactly how many precious people were in my life. I received support form areas I least expected it. It was overwhelming! On a daily basis Clinton received prayers and aromatherapy treatments, or reflexology, or chiropractic, reiki, aura soma, all lovingly volunteered by people who knew us. I continued to play his school sounds as well as his favourite CD's. There were so many visitors that we had to ask people not to visit.
After about five days, I decided that enough was enough. My mother’s heart could not stand much more of this. I asked the staff not to be disturbed while visiting Clinton and told him that I know that there was some aspect of him that could hear me. I knew, on a soul level, that he was around somewhere. This turned out to be the hardest thing I had ever done. I told him that he needed to decide. Decide whether he would leave this world or stay, but that I simply could not take this “in-between” living and dying state that he was in. I even raised my voice in impatience, and told him that it was enough! In my heart I knew that I had, for the first and only time in my life, encountered complete unconditional love. I stared at his still body, and for the first time in Clinton’s life, I wanted nothing from him. I did not need him to clean his room, or pass a test, or have better manners, or respect me more. All I wanted was for him to know that I loved him – no matter what! I told him to, either get back into his body and wake up, or to leave us completely! This was the most emotional day of my life! There was no response from Clinton, so finally, I left to go home. The following day, as I was sitting at his bedside with his favourite music playing, I saw his foot moving in time to the music and I knew that he would be fine.
He regained consciousness the next day! What a relief! BUT, one minute he seemed perfectly fine, the next he would behave like a two-year-old with very bad tantrums. This, I was told by the neuro-surgeon, was to be expected after such brain trauma. Both Clinton's short- and long-term memory were affected as well. Not only did he not know who he was - or anyone else for that matter - he had to be told every half hour or so. He would just have supper and half an hour later, would tell anyone who cared to listen that he had not eaten in days! The one-minute he would be fine and the next moment he would be completely hysterical - over the smallest thing. His vision was affected and could only see in certain degrees of the visual spectrum.
Within days, we were allowed to take him home. Here the healing process truly began. I decided to resign my job in order to take care of Clinton, full time. All the healers visited the house regularly but Clinton needed full time supervision. If left alone for a minute, he would wonder out the house and down the road and promptly forget who or where he was! He had several hallucinatory experiences as well. We spent every waking moment teaching him to read and write, to speak coherently, to butter his bread, make coffee, use the toilet, and tie his laces - too many things to mention.
The prognosis was that it could take up to two years for Clinton to recover - if he was going to recover at all. Slowly, things improved. He retained all the information we were giving him for longer and longer periods and the incidents of "out of control" behaviour became fewer and fewer. Slowly, his vision improved. It looked like his sense of humour was returning. Finally, glimpses of the Clinton we all knew began to show. Four months after his accident I took him for a CAT scan. It was clear! Clinton was 98% recovered. The doctors recommended that he not go back to school - they did not want him under pressure.
Suddenly, there I was with nothing to do and, with my attention span resembling that of a gnat, that nearly drove my family mad. My company had held my job for me and asked if I wanted to return. My life partner and I discussed it and he suggested that I should not go back to the IT industry. He said that I was a much nicer person not being in that highly competitive environment. What I really wanted to do was tell people of the possibilities of alternative healing and spirituality, since that is what I had learned about over the previous four months. An
intensive, accelerated training program, if you will. I learned about the human spirit. About survival, courage, determination, tenacity and mostly love. I learned about the unconditionality of motherly love. I learned about the love that other people have for me. I learned about the love of life and the love of God. I learned about trust.
This was the most important time in my life and now, looking back retrospectively, this was the only way that my soul knew how to show me to change my life! If this tragedy did not occur, would I have even looked at the possibility of becoming gentler, kinder, more compassionate, less driven? All I really wanted to do was tell people that alternatives exist. That the most important thing in life is not how much stuff one accumulates but how much one can love.
What to do? I started an alternative-healing centre, called Elandor. It comprised of a book and gift store, healing rooms, a lecture centre and a library. A sacred space if you will, where people could come and ask whatever questions they had about life, love, spirituality and healing. I could teach them about their auras or energy bodies, about crystals, about other cultures like the American Indian culture, meditation, about alternative religious philosophies, or whatever. If I did not know the answers - we could explore them together. I had learned a great deal. This topic was much, much bigger than I originally imagined. I had met people from all over the world, and hosted many of them at Elandor. All of them teaching basically the same message. I learned that the Cathars had died because of this knowledge in the middle ages. I learned that Jesus taught these principles and so did Buddha and so did Krishna - as did many, many others since the beginning of time. I learned that humanity was looking for a message of love, compassion and understanding, rather than a message of judgement and fear. I was not telling enough people. Now what?
I took myself off to one of my most favourite places on this planet – Arniston (an exquisite little sea-side town with the most spectacular beaches and a huge cave, which was submerged at high tide). I undertook to remain silent until I found some clarity about what to do next. (For me to remain quiet is almost impossible!) While sitting on one of the magnificent sand dunes in Arniston, I became inspired about a magazine. The magazine was to be called Namasté. It should have 64 pages and feature book and CD reviews, feature articles on alternative health and healing, spirituality, psychology, self- help, some fun stuff - so we don't take ourselves too seriously, a controversial section and a few other pertinent points like the launch date - the 7th September 1999. This was really exciting - something new that I could get my teeth into. I happened to know a friend who could help with the financial administration and another friend who could help with the marketing. That would be perfect. Clearly, this was inspired and we would somehow find the money!
On my return to Cape Town, I excitedly told everyone. Some thought I was mad, others hinted that I did not know how to manage a magazine but were too polite to say so categorically. My marketing friend freaked out and said it was impossible to launch a magazine in five months. My partner just sighed and said "fine". Monica, Emily and I registered a company, organised a national distributor, registered trademarks, appointed a design house and printer, collected material, organised a launch party, designed the masthead and duly launched our first edition on 7th September 1999.
Between then and now I have yet again learned an incredible amount - not just about the publishing industry and how that works, but about human nature, spirituality, compassion, etc. I keep seeking to have this huge spiritual awakening and a wildly enlightening experience and all I get is more life. Life simply is just everywhere I look. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is challenging, but it is never boring.
I have also come to understand that enlightenment is not something that can be achieved - like a degree. It is a gentle unfolding of more and more of myself. Depths that I would not have believed that I had.
Just so you know - Clinton is now fully recovered and is turning 25 on the 27th of December 2003. He is working in the IT industry following in the footsteps of his mom, doing the invincible, yuppie thing! He is 6' 3” tall and is a beautiful young man! He is my inspiration.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Hilda de la Rosa is the founder and Managing Editor of Namasté Magazine in South Africa. She is a public speaker and workshop facilitator, teaching people to become more of who they truly are. Her own life and experiences have been her teacher and as she continues to teach others, so she learns more about herself, life, love and God. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org