FROM MY BOOK ‘HOLD ONTO HIM’: The death of the chick

They were totally adorable in pink, green and blue.  An unexpected turn of events at the school fair.  Two begging girls each received two colour dye chicks  to take home.  We kept them in the canary cage.  It was fun to let them out on the grass for a short while each day.  I was at work when the call came two weeks later.  A slightly hysterical Granny was scarcely audible above the cries of the girls in the background.  I needed to come home urgently.  One chick had been injured and was on the brink of death and Granny did not know what to do.

I found them crying under the tree.  They had ‘constructed’ a boundary wall with bricks on the grass for the chicks to play in, to stop them from running away.  One of the bricks had fallen on top of one of the chicks, which was now half dead and definitely beyond rescue.  What do I do now?  I needed to put an end to this trauma and help the chick out of its suffering.  “Stay here!” I instructed.  I grabbed the chick and marched around the house out of sight of the children.  “O Lord, I have never killed anything before!”  Perhaps a mosquito and a few red ants, but those don’t count.  My Dad had always held his hand over my eyes until the sheep’s throat was cut, so that I would not see it dying.

I knew there was another brick next to the rubbish bin at the kitchen door.  In tears myself, I picked up the brick and smashed the chick out of its pain and misery.  I threw the evidence in the rubbish bin with the brick (murder weapon removed from the scene).  I went back to the girls, who tearfully demanded to know what I had done.  I sat down on the grass and took them both in my arms.  “The chick was suffering terribly, and I had to kill it to stop its suffering.  I am very sorry.  What happened to the chick was an accident.  Accidents happen in life,” I said.  It was then that I knew there would be other ‘accidents’ in their lives in the future, and I would not be there to ‘carry the accident away’ and deal with it on their behalf.  I would not be around to hold them in my arms, dry their tears and explain what had happened in carefully chosen words.  I could not protect them against the hurts that awaited them in life.

Reflection:  What accidents in your life are you mourning?

Psalm 147:3  “He heals the wounds of every shattered heart”.

My God, how I desire to save my daughters the pain of this accident of their beloved Daddy’s death.  No explanation in carefully chosen words can make it better.  I pray that You would heal the wounds of their shattered hearts.  We can only hold onto You.

HOLD ON TO HIM: An Under-the-bed day

We searched everywhere for her – her sister and I.  We called her name at the top of our voices.  Searched inside the house, walked into all the rooms.  Called her name outside the house and walked around the garden.  We could not find her anywhere.  I walked into her room again and, suddenly, I had the idea to look under her bed.  There she was, looking at me with sorrowful eyes.


I called her sister and gestured under the bed.  Without words we crawled in and lay next to her, one on each side, under the bed.  We were silent.  She sighed.  We waited.  Then she said, “I am having an under-the-bed day”.  I said, “It’s okay.  We will be here with you”.  “Yes,” her sister echoed.  “We will be with you under the bed”.  We did not speak.  It was not necessary.  We just breathed together.  After a while, she said, “It is better now.  We can all get out from under the bed”.


I do not remember what we did next.  There were other signs after that.  She could not recall the sequence of her ballet routine.  Her mostly happy changed to mostly sad.  It was the start of her depression, which was diagnosed and treated with love, acceptance, medicine and prayer.  It became a saying in our household:  “Are you having an under-the-bed day?”


Do you sometimes have an “under-the-bed day?”

Psalm 139:7  “Where could I go from your Spirit?  Where could I run and hide from Your face?”


Dear God, in these troubled and terrible times, we are all challenged by “under-the-bed days”. 

Hide us in Your presence.  Your presence are the air we breathe.  We cannot see it.  Without it we cannot live.

Be our oxygen Pappa God.


We have a honeymoon joke about a newspaper. When we returned from breakfast, there was a newspaper delivered in front of our bedroom door at the hotel. Andre was delighted. For the next half an hour he was reading happily away. I waited patiently for him to finish, so that we could go on the outing we had planned for the day. On the second day, he looked up from his newspaper and said: “What am I doing? We are on our honeymoon and I am reading the newspaper instead of focusing on you!”

I often wished to be your newspaper. Held firmly between your hands. Stared at so intently for half an hour each day. Studied from cover to cover. The object of your focused attention. Your newspaper became a symbol of yet another wall between us. Loved, yet separated. Unable to express affection while yearning to do so.

Many years later, both as a means to refocus your attention and to inject some much-needed humour in our relationship, I took your newspaper and wrapped myself in it with an invitation to read to your heart’s content… For a short time it worked, until depression and its appeal for escape drew you from my pages again.

Ephesians 2:14 “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.” The wall of depression that separated us in life has now been broken down. I am sure there is only good news to read in your heavenly ‘newspaper’.

I will hold onto Him knowing the He has me firmly in His hands. He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Annette de la Porte

I stopped watching my wach

I stopped watching my watch

Many moons ago there was an advertisement on television of Michelle Herbelin wristwatches. My heart yearned in adoration. I seldom desired things. I desired that watch. When my mother went to heaven, I inherited a small sum of money. I used it to buy myself a Michelle Herbelin watch as an ode to my mother who invested time in raising me.

In lockdown I have taken my precious watch off and put it away in a cupboard. My focus on the hours of the day has changed. I used to measure my effectivity in making appointments and keeping them. I took pride in planning my diary weeks ahead. Now that the world has stopped, my watch has lost its meaning to measure. I get a sense of what they mean with African time being circular. Tomorrow, this time, it will be the same time again, so what do you mean that I am late? I just do not operate by the cycle of your watch. I stopped watching my watch. Might this be the time to watch my values, my ethics and my behaviour?

In the story of Hezekiah, he requested that, as a sign of his healing, God would make the sundial move ten degrees back in time. 2 Kings 20:11 “So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the Lord and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.” If you could turn time back, what would you like to erase?

When the time on your wristwatch does not measure your productivity, how do you measure the contribution you make? What really matters?

Today I will watch my words.
I will watch my attitude
I will watch the tone of my voice
I will watch myself develop patience
I will watch the amount of loving behaviour I show towards others
I will watch how I can grow in kindness and generosity
I will watch the guidance of the Holy Spirit and follow it in obedience
I will watch Jesus and emulate Him
My time is in God’s hands.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” On our journey with depression we will Hold Onto Him: our God, who holds the times and seasons of our lives in His hands.

Annette (Joy) de la Porte (author of Hold Onto Him)

The Voicebox : a blog for those who lost their voice during their journey with disease.