“Guess what? … I love you!” is one of Rhydian’s favorite sentences, which he addresses for example to one of his carers sitting at the other side of the room at lunchtime. Rhydian, who has a brain tumor is one of the children who comes to Ty Hafan. Ty Hafan is the Welsh for ‘haven house’ and it is a children’s hospice, the only one in Wales. ’In the Here and Now’ is the title of the project which I’ve been photographing at Ty Hafan over the past few months and which will soon be up on my website.
Rhydian flying through the room on the arms of his carer Paul while ‘Super Hero Day’ is celebrated in the hospice. South Wales/UK © 2013 Christoph Soeder
“Oh, that’s sad” or phrases similar to this would often be the reaction when people hear where I’ve been photographing. Indeed loosing a child is a stroke of fate which is so tragic that there are hardly any words for it. But before this all the children who come to Ty Hafan have a life which is full of emotions very many of which are also very light-hearted. I think Rhydian’s quote in the first paragraph illustrates this very well. For many children the future is unpredictable, as it is not known how their condition is going to deteriorate and thus how long they have left with us. This perspective often leaves them only with the present to focus on and emphases on the importance of each moment. The predominant feeling one gets staying at this place is the value of the here and now, of each lived moment.
Pablo, who you see on the image below, was one of the very first children I met coming Ty Hafan. Sadly Pablo passed away shortly after I met him. I’m very glad having been in time to meet this beaming young man and his parents. The image below shows him being hugged and kindly shaken by his father Paul, which is what he enjoyed most when I met him. When he was younger, in earlier stages of his condition, so his father told me, Pablo used to react to a whisper into his ear, .
Father Paul and his 13 year old son Pablo on the couch at Ty Hafan. South Wales/UK South Wales/UK © 2013 Christoph Soeder
The courage with which children and family members and also carers who often build a close bond to the children face their situation is incredible and makes them to heroes. Thank you to all of them having shared a part of their life with me. More impressions from this place will be up on my website soon.
The surroundings of the hospice reflect in one of the windows looking onto the garden which leads to the seashore. South Wales/UK © 2013 Christoph Soeder