We've been having a very sad few days. Our lovely niece Sarah, and Karl, parents of Kerehoma, have been anticipating the birth of their second child in May, an event we were all looking forward to with great pleasure. On Tuesday we heard that Sarah had discovered her baby had died.
During the week we waited while Sarah went through the process of having labour induced - and it was not the relatively quick, overnight process I had imagined. We spent our time feeling heavily sad for Sarah, Karl and the whole family, and they were rarely far from our thoughts. I cannot begin to contemplate the sadness for Sarah herself.
On Saturday morning Sarah delivered her daughter, whom she named Miria Ropaina. On Saturday afternoon Karl and Sarah, with Elizabeth, William and Miriam, came home from the Whangarei Hospital, and went directly to the Roma Marae in Ahipara, Karl's family Marae. In a specially woven lidded basket, a waha kura, lay tiny Miria.
We arrived there too, with other members of the family and close friends, and were soon called on to the Marae, where Miria was laid on the low stage at the end of the whare nui, where she was then never left alone.
I have long appreciated Tangihanga as very good way to farewell the dead. There is such an outpouring of love and support for the bereaved, both for those most closely involved, and for all of the people connected with them and the sad event.
Stephan and I had left instructions with Jude to feed the poultry and separate Imagen and Zella on Saturday evening, but felt we needed to come home to our house-guests overnight, and for Stephan to milk Imagen in the morning.
Jude, Roger and children went home on Sunday morning and we returned to the Marae for the continuation of the Tangi.
After a formal funeral ceremony in the Whare Nui, Karl and Sarah carried Miria along the road to the Urupa, the cemetery, followed by all who could walk the 800 or so metres, and then by those who could not, in cars. It seemed to me a very important part of the process, that sad walk along the road in the sunshine.
I thank Sarah for her openness in allowing me to write about this.