A mother’s story of pain and healing
By Jean Goulbourn
Published in The Philippine Star, September 12, 2010
(Editor’s note: On May 25, 2002, Natasha Goulbourn, 27, died in Hong Kong from over-medication after a bout of depression. Here, for the first time, Natasha’s mother, fashion designer Jean Goulbourn, writes about the painful episodes that transpired after her daughter’s death.)
MANILA, Philippines – No, God, no! I can’t accept that Tasha’s gone. Please give me closure. Give me signs. Allow her to talk to me. Do You exist? Are You really there? How could You let it happen? Why call her home to You at her prime? Why lend her to me for so short a time? What about her marching down the aisle as a bride? And the six children that she wished for she wrote me in her Mother’s Day card. What about the Goulbourn grandson she promised her dad? She said she’d marry the man who would say yes in baptizing her first son with a hyphenated surname, ____-Goulbourn, so the family neme can continue! What about her sister, her best friend, who she was going to be a maid of honor for?”
Embracing her pillow in her room, I had no tears; just this random conversation with God and with her.
“Follow the light don’t stop! Quickly fly through the dark tunnel go to the light! Say ‘Jesus, I love You, have mercy. Mother Mary take me to Jesus.’” Repeatedly I said this and felt I was with her in her new environment where?
“Where are you, Tasha? Talk to me! You can’t just go without talking to me. Tell me! Tell me what happened!”
Was I going mad? I could not cry. Was it a nightmare? Would I wake up?
The hours ticked by ever so slowly my mind was trying to figure out where she was; my ears were deaf. Just silence.
Her voice, our talks gone forever. No! Impossible! I would text her cell phone, let it ring and pretend that she was talking back and conversing with me.
Given a mild sedative, I felt like a zombie. At the chapel during her wake. I told my secretary, “Joyce, Tasha said move the flowers from her best friend Mary,
Leigh and Tita Jojo from New York to the front near her, and move back those from politicians in front to the back. She said she doesn’t know these politicians, but says thank you for their thoughtfulness.”
I got a stare from my secretary and Nena Tantoco hugged me. “It’s all right Jean, we will.” Had I heard her… my daughter? Yes, clearly I had, with detailed instructions!
And so my prayers were answered. On seven different occasions, she talked and talked, explained and made me promise, “Don’t sue the doctor. He did what he thought was best. You were right Mom, the medicines were wrong for me I can’t remember the last few days.”
“Don’t forget to pay Peter,” she told the psychic from London (over a long distance call that Gina Lopez had arranged for me). “I owe him two weeks’ rent.” True enough, she did.
Perhaps she felt that the one-hour long-distance conversation was not enough she found a lady (a psychic, too) praying the rosary at San Antonio Church. She asked that the psychic relay more messages to me.
Tasha was present in my room, in my car; I felt her. Dr. Rene Yat (the psychiatrist who was waiting for her in Manila but never got to meet her) watched over me, felt my grief, my pain, my loss.
Though we tried to get her out of the hands of the Hong Kong-based Australian psychiatrist, he did not want to release her back to us. Instead, he doubled the dos-
age of her medication. We lost her 72 hours after he switched her to a stronger anti-depressant.
More than a year later, the psychiatrist took his own life.
“Mom, please save five lives. Please, Mom, they are your friends, taking the same medications I took.”
“Oh no, my love you are not giving me a job to do! I am still in a state of shock and grief.”
“You will feel better please save them.”
“You are so unfair really, Tash. You walk out on us and now you give me a job to do.”
And so Dr. Rene Yat did help save the five lives! I did get the message as she had described it. “You will
know who they are you will just know. I will help you to know and recognize them.”
Out of the ordinary was how things unfolded there was a job to do, and I wanted to prevent more people from feeling the tearing pain of loss and grief. God, you have mysterious ways of showing your love, I thought, but this is far from how I wish to heal!
On the 27th day, after Dr. Yat was able to prevent two suicide attempts on time, we took a break and at the invitation of owner Aida Villaluz went back to Buri, a resort in Puerto Galera, where our last vacation had taken place with Tasha, family and close friends just three weeks before we lost her.
Everything reminded me of our lovely weekend the game of Scrabble on the ferry ride, the screams of joy and laughter on a full moon night. It was pulling my whole inside out I was angry and in denial. It was an ugly dream I would snap out of. “Butterflies… Is that you, Tasha? Now a butterfly? No! Show me how you really are, where you really are. Call me Mom I’m your mom when you show yourself to me. Let me smell vanilla when you embrace me.”
Before boarding the boat I went back to the cottage, knelt on the white pebbles and cried out loud: “God, you must show me the dolphins. She said we can heal with the dolphins, swim with them, hug them and their gentleness and vibrations can heal us. But let me see them if you exist! Tell me You can hear me, God. Tasha, negotiate with God come and bring me the dolphins.” Being a Catholic, taught about sin and hell from a very young age, I prayed: “Five dolphins means she is in hell, 10 means she is in heaven with You! I will surrender her to You but I must know if she is happy and tell me, is she with You?”
I was about to give up as we were headed to Batangas port, on the 2 p.m. course, just 20 minutes away and no dolphin sightings. “Wait!” the captain shouted. “At 11 o’clock position, three dolphins sighted!” Oh, how my heart palpitated oh no, I will take the penalty of hell, but not my child!
Suddenly we saw 10 dolphins and, oh, more, more and more! One hundred eight dolphins in all, in five rows dancing, performing better than the shows in Sea World. We were all crying, I knelt to say, “Thank you, thank you for comforting us all.” Eight minutes of leaping, smiling, beautiful dolphins what a sight! The captain and boat boys were crying. “Milagro ito señora, milagro ng Diyos!” And on the left of the big, long banca flying fish. “Ay, takot and flying fish sa dolphin kay paon nila yan. Ano kaya an nangyari dito? Milagro!” They made the sign of the cross.
And as they did a goodbye flip with their tails, eight pairs of dolphins went to the front of the banca and escorted us back to our two o’clock course towards the port.
Unbelievable, the intelligence, the sensitivity of these beautiful sea friends! Once the performance was over, not one head bobbed out of the water. The choreography was excellent. Well done, Natasha, you again handled each detail superbly. Eight minutes and eight is my favorite number.
You see, Tasha, you are still saving lives. The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation, with its passionate, big-hearted people continues to spread the good news!
The dolphins spelled out my commitment to a mission. Your conversations made me realize that God is a listening, loving, compassionate Father. And as a gift, you were a “gift” that any mother, or father, or sister would wish to have, embrace, laugh with forever.
With each life saved, I hear your laughter amid the stars: “Mom, we did it, Mom!”
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