by Tina Mata’afa-Tufele
It’s never easy to lose a child but as the Manu Samoa prepares for its test match against France this morning, a Hawaii woman hopes that her great loss this week will have a hand in seeing Samoa’s national 15s rugby squad team to a win.
The pregnancy was going normal for Waipahu resident Heather Amituana’i-Tiuli but at eight months, on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, she woke up when her water burst. Water was not so alarming but the sight of blood told her something was terribly wrong. Her husband Tiuli Samuelu Tiuli rushed her to the hospital.
“Sam rushed me to the Emergency Room,” she told Faletuiga’s tautalatala.com from her hospital bed this morning. “Only to find out baby didn’t have a heartbeat. I couldn’t believe it at first but three different doctors came into the room to confirm and that’s when it hit me. Until now, they’re still unsure as to what exactly went wrong.”
It’d be a natural reaction to hide from the world and wallow in sadness but on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, Heather shared thankfulness via Facebook.
“I'm so thankful for my guardian angel Tiuli Manu Samoa Amituana’i Tiuli,” reads a post that accompanied her baby’s photo. “Some people only dream of angels, I held one in my arms. It breaks my heart that I can't hold you in my arms forever, but I know without a doubt you're in good hands.”
Condolences continue to pour in for Heather, Tiuli and their sons Talosaga, 4, and Tuia’ana, 2.
“Baby is named Tiuli after his daddy and Manu Samoa because of our love for our beloved Manu Samoa,” she said. “Also because I believe even the smallest footprint can leave a mark for all eternity. Such as the one my son has left on our hearts and like the one our team has left on the world.
Heather, 28, was born in Hawaii. She notes that the Manu Samoa represents a country “so small but so full of heart. Anyone who knows her should know full well that she is a die-hard Manu Samoa fan. It is very unusual not to see Heather in a Manu jersey or shirt.
”The Manu definitely unites Samoans and serves as an enduring mark, a symbol of unity that the world can’t touch,” she said.
Heather’s late father was from Samatau and Gataivai, Savai’i and her mother is from Gagaifolevao, Lefaga and Matanofo in the Falelatai district of Upolu. Her husband, 33, was also born in Samoa, a native of Fasito’o-Uta.
“I never thought anything like this would happen to me but there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “Besides I’m sure my dad needed him more than I did. I try to stay positive…I’m grieving…it’s hard…but I’m definitely okay…there are others who have it worse…besides there’s so much more to be thankful for. There’s so much heartbreak but it gives me a sense of peace knowing he is in good hands.”
Heather, a devout Latter-Day-Saint, says “I know without a doubt I’ll reunite with him again.”
Laptop in front of her at the hospital, Heather said: “I pray our guardian angel helps our boys through this game and many more to come.”
[In a tough match, France beat Samoa 22-14.]
Post match, Heather said: "Our boys played with so much heart. If only the refs were honest. But it's all good. Everyone hates to see us do well but it definitely wont stop us. Blue for life!"