i am rhonel

This blog shares my sacred journey through tragedy.  I was called for audacious hope whilst grieving a living loss.  And I had to choose – will I be better or bitter? 

I see myself next to her ICU bed, with protruding tubes and an array of medical interventions, and I see my smile. I remember the despair, shock and utter disbelief in my heart. However the moment the camera is pointed towards me I put on a smile. It is a reflex almost, cultivated through years of classical conditioning. This photo appeared in the newspaper shortly after Juneldè’s accident.


I continue to page through my Facebook photos, beautiful images of moments in time. Some of them representative, some definitely not. This one was taken two days after an armed robbery at our home. My mom and I, together with Juneldè, was held at gunpoint for a terrifying afternoon. My safe haven was invaded by ugliness and I was fearful for our lives and bodies. Yet, two days later we celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday at a beautiful affair. My smile hides the confusion in my heart, the feelings of self pity and rebellion. I was tired to the bone. In less than two years I have faced my daughter’s drowning, the consequences of her profound brain injury, TWO armed robberies (Feb 2014 and Oct 2014) and an early miscarriage.


I sometimes jokingly say that in times of dissatisfaction with my life I just open my Facebook wall and page through it. I see an almost perfect life, of smiling happy people. And then I feel better…What a wonderful profile I have!

It is important to remember that that is true for every public profile, Twitter account and Facebook wall we see. It is carefully chosen, full of conditioned smiles. It is not meant to be deceiving or fake, it is just representative of the best parts of ourselves.

We sometimes look at the photos of others, envious of their lives. Just remember, our lives are mostly lived in the unfiltered, unposed, tearful, real moments of every day. The moments of messy hair, sweatpants, laughing until you cry, and crying until you laugh.

Your life is not a Facebook profile displayed on a digital wall…

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