Daniel always slept with me in my bed but he would often after waking up, go to Henry or Alecia's bed for a cuddle and a bit more sleep. I took this photo in December 2006, while we were on holiday. I remember how warm and happy I felt looking at my precious boys.

Although nearly two years passed between when the photo was taken to when Henry and Daniel gave me this letter, I feel that they must go together. Probably as I see both to be visual expressions of the close bond that reigned between two brothers and of the love between my children and I, ever present.

It was about 2 months before Daniel's death that Henry and Daniel wrote this special "letter" to me. "Lief vir jou" are the Afrikaans for "I love you".

And from me, to my two beautiful boys:

"I love you too, Neni"
"I love you too, Daniel"


What makes Daniel's drowning different to other accidental swimming pool drownings?

Other parents will explain with regret, how a small distraction caused them to lose focus of their toddler and the water for a few minutes only for their attention to return to their child floating in the swimming pool; 80% of home drowning victims had been missing for 5 minutes or less before they were found in the water and 70% were not expected to be in or near the pool area at the time.
No one was looking after Daniel when he drowned. While both his dad and his step mother were fully aware that the children had free access to the open unfenced swimming pool, his dad left the house to go somewhere while his stepmother continued working on her PC in a home office situated at the opposite end of the premises to where the swimming pool is. Before his stepmother eventually found Daniel in the pool he had last been seen in the TV room where his 7 and 8 year old half siblings were playing TV games. It was one of the children who noticed that Daniel wasn't with them anymore and when they couldn't find him they went to tell their mother. They first searched inside the house before they went outside where his half sister later spotted Daniel's body.
Without any delay other parents immediately called emergency services
Although their house is only minutes away from 2 major hospitals, equipped world-class 911 emergency response services, Daniel's stepmother only called her husband to alert him that Daniel had drowned. As their car was in for a service on that day, his father had left the house earlier driving his small scooter and from he received the phone call, it took him all the time to get home on his scooter and stopping on the way to borrow someone's car so that they could take Daniel to hospital. Around the time that Daniel's dad finally arrived at the house someone managed to call 911 but it was too late.
This extract is from the internet report that was published about 911 call-outs on the day of Daniel's death:

After Normal

From the book "After Normal" by Diane Aggen - a real life story about a 14 year old girl's journey through grief after the drowning death of her younger brother.
"Breathe. Please just breathe," I begged myself as I knelt in the backyard, doubled over and gasping for air, my eyes squeezed shut.

I wanted the ground to open and swallow me whole. I wanted to float towards the sun and never stop. I wanted to go to sleep and never wake. I wanted to wake and have this be a horrible, horrible nightmare. I wanted to start running and never, ever stop. I could just keep running. First, though, I needed to catch my breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. That's all. Just breathe. I opened my eyes but quickly shut them again. The grass was too green.

Inhale. Exhale. Each inhale filled my lungs, my heart, my very soul with sorrow. Each exhale left only emptiness.
It is honest and real, written for teenagers by a teenager and carrying the assuring message that life and the future will be okay - a beautiful book about loss but also about hope.


It took only a moment to tell me that Daniel had died but in just those few seconds nearly every dimension of my being and the world as I knew it, shattered into a million pieces. My mental capacity was reduced to a single repetitive thought saying that this was not true, not Daniel, not like that. I waited to be taken to Daniel, folded double in pain, vomiting, nauseous from trauma and shock. My joy became  sorrow, making every emotion I could possibly feel extremely painful.

More than a year has passed since I lost Daniel and I still feel the pain ever present, tearing through my soul. But it is no longer the only feeling I have – I also have regained some good emotions. Out of the generally accepted top ten positive emotions, I have half of them present and half missing from my life.


In my world a penguin means to have an endless amount of love for a special little boy we called our Pikkewyntjie (little penguin).I gave this nickname to Daniel when he was but a few weeks old, long before I ever could imagine that he would leave this world so soon.

It was about a week ago that I thought of finding what the symbolic meaning attached to a penguin was. I was amazed about the answer:
Because of the penguin's association with water, astral projection and out of body experiences are keynote. Their movements both in water and on land indicate an ability to glide easily from one dimension to another.

Penguins have the ability to consciously go out of body. They teach how to embrace and understand all realms of life. Individuals with penguin totems are vivid dreamers and often receive messages through the dreamtime or in a meditative state.

The colors of the penguin are also symbolic. The color black represents the hidden or the unknown and the color white reflects the light or awakened consciousness. The merging of the hidden with the known produces a balanced state of being. Penguin teaches you how to blend, merge and balance the dark with the light.

Penguin is a powerful totem to have and helps you change your reality, move between the worlds and awaken full consciousness.