A ‘Precious Gem’ for Gemma

Moments shared with Gemma. PHOTOS: Supplied

Legacy may mean a lot of different things to many people but for a local family, legacy means leaving a spark of light for others when you’re no longer around.

A legacy they hope to keep alive is the memory of their sister and daughter, Gemma Deutschmann, through a book, Precious Gem, that has not only given them hope after her passing but also by inspiring other families who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

Debbie and her husband, Michael Deutschmann, were blessed with three children – two boys and their only daughter, Gemma, who was born with a rare condition called Hyperinsulinism. “We were to find out that it is a recessive gene that, without knowing it, both Michael and I carried. Our boys are both carriers of the gene, but thankfully this does not affect their health,” Debbie explained.

The Deutschmann family’s last moments with Gemma. PHOTO: Supplied

A condition that their daughter did not allow to stand in the way of her enjoying her life to the fullest until the age of 13. “Not many people who knew her, even close family and friends, really knew what she went through. It may have come as a shock to many when she gained her angel wings on the 14th of March 2021.”

Debbie recalls how much her family enjoyed sharing adventures with Gemma by pinpointing memories from their camps in remote areas to hiking and overnight trekking in Lesotho. “We were locked down in Lesotho for almost a year and, although Gemma missed her friends tremendously, we have magical memories of this time together. We are thankful for every single photograph we took on all of our adventures.”

Gemma and her brother Bryce on an adventure at the Gates of Paradise in Lesotho. PHOTO: Supplied

She said that as Gemma’s story on earth was short-lived, inspiration to write the book came from her hope for those affected to gain some sort of closure. It’s a journey of self-healing for herself but also a way to spark a conversation around topics that are not easily discussed. “I think with the prevalence of social media, we all try to portray to others that we are perfect (whatever that may mean) in some way or another. To me, the world is losing its authenticity. My hope is that the book will encourage people to share their own stories,” she said.

Gemma’s last picture taken with her brother Bryce. PHOTO: Supplied

The author added that although life may be hard for everybody at the moment people should not be afraid to ask for help as there are always people willing to go the extra mile.

“A journey such as this should not be walked alone. All one can do is ask. Without the support from all those around us who were willing to give, we would not have been able to give Gemma the life she had. It took me a long time to get over my guilt about Gemma’s second surgery (which is recorded in the book) but when I looked at it from the outside whilst writing her story it became clear that the surgery was what was needed at that specific time. It gave her five great, almost normal, years. My point is that we as parents do the best that we can for our children given the circumstances. Sometimes there are bigger forces that we can’t control and, as difficult as it can be, there may be times where we find that the only thing we can do is just let go and trust.”

To get in touch with the Deutschmann family follow Deutschmann on Facebook, contact 082-467-1640 or send an email to flyhighpreciousgem@gmail.com

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