Cape Town – Jenna Lowe, who died earlier this month, changed the nation with her campaign for South Africans to sign up as organ donors, her mom said on Saturday afternoon.
“Three and a half years ago, at our first fundraiser, I said it takes a village to raise a child. What I say to you now is it takes an extraordinary child to change the consciousness of a village,” Gabi Lowe said during her daughter’s memorial service in Cape Town.
“You have changed the consciousness of your nation, not because of your need but because of your love.”
She shared a long list of memories, lifting up her red glasses at times to wipe away the tears, and taking a few moments to gather resolve.
Lowe had been six-months pregnant with Jenna when she queued to vote in the first democratic elections in 1994. A 36-hour-long labour prepared her “for what lay ahead”.
“I remember your gentle cry as a baby and it felt as if an invisible string joined us together.”
On either side of her were two projector screens showing her smiling daughter, with a made up face and hair, below her name and surname, and the words “An extraordinary person and an extraordinary life”.
Huge bunches of red roses, woven wood hearts and rows of lit white candles were scattered around. Packs of tissues were left at each chair.
Jenna died on Monday June 5, aged 20. In 2012, aged 17, she was diagnosed with a rare lung disease called Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, a degenerative, life-threatening condition, according to her website jennalowe.org.
Her “Get me to 21” campaign was intended to encourage people to sign up to become organ donors and help her find a new pair of lungs. She received a double lung transplant on December 10 2014.
‘The world will carry on without me’
Included in the memorial pamphlet was a poem she had written eight years ago, called My Life is a Braid.
Some of the lines read: “My destiny is a blank page, the pen is writing as I speak, At some times I’ll be strong and calm, at others scared and weak… All I know for sure, is that nothing’s yet complete, The world will carry on without me, Nonetheless less sweet.”
Her mom said she had changed the lives of tens of thousands of people.
“I remember the dignity, the grace and the courage you exuded, even as the illness was ravishing your body and trying to strip you bare.
Laughter erupted in the hall as she said: “I remember how you made that mobility scooter look like a red Ferrari.”
Kristi Lowe sang Celine Dion’s My heart will go on, one of sister’s favourite songs from the movie Titanic. The hall applauded afterwards. Kristi said would she honour her sister, even though it was difficult to imagine a life without her.
“I don’t know where you are now or who are you with but I hope you are happy and finally free of pain.”
Jenna Etheridge, News24