I finally got to meet Zephany.
And there is a good reason why I’m a little less uncomfortable calling her by that name now, considering that she was raised as Miché Solomon, after being stolen from her mother’s hospital bedside as a newborn baby 22 years ago.
I’ll tell you why in a moment.
Firstly, let me clarify that it wasn’t a face-to-face meeting.
We talked on the phone. But it was a very long conversation, in which I got to know this young lady a little better.
I requested a radio interview with Miché and on Friday, she spent almost an hour on the phone with me, chatting about a variety of things to do with her life and her experiences.
During our interaction, Miché struck me as pleasant, thoughtful, optimistic and someone who genuinely accepts the ebb and flow of life.
There isn’t a hint of bitterness in her voice and at times, she sounded even playful.
It’s impossible to understand the trauma that she’s had to deal with - finding out that the woman who lovingly raised her for 17 years, Lavona Solomon, had in fact stolen her from Celeste and Morne Nurse, who had spent all that time searching for her.
While Miché is still very young, her voice and thoughts have an adult certainty about it.
The thing that unnerves many people, is how lovingly she speaks of Lavona, but she also understands and accepts that her feelings towards Celeste may still change as she grows and matures as a mother herself.
That self-awareness knowing what she doesn’t know yet is the kind of wisdom that her circumstances have forced her into.
I still find it hard to believe that some people can be so moralistically jaundiced about this.
They almost want to force her into a mother-daughter bond with Celeste.
And while I completely understand (and even support) the ongoing sympathy for Celeste and the loss that she has had to deal with over the years, Miché’s story can no longer be tied to that sympathy.
None of this was her fault and her response to it must be accepted as authentic.
Forcing her into an insincere reaction to make yourself comfortable and give Celeste a happy ending, will be ignoring the pain of forcing one injustice on top of another.
This is a story that is going to require time and distance from the peanut gallery for healing to take place.
And Miché strikes me as the kind of person who is going to work hard to achieve that.
To those people with opinions and views, saying terrible things about her, I would like to ask you to be very honest with yourself and think about the following: just imagine someone coming up to you right now and telling you that your whole life is a lie; that the people you care about deeply and love unconditionally, are in fact not your family; and that you must transfer all the feelings of love and security built up over years of experiences to a group of strangers whom you’ve never met before!
Now imagine that happening to you when you were an already confused, insecure, self-centred and hormonally-charged 17-year-old.
As it is, teenagers are overly concerned with what the world thinks of them.
And here you had a teen, whose entire self-image was threatening to crumble not in private, but in front of a worldwide audience, who was commenting, advising and judging.
Miché did the only logical thing; the only thing that makes sense in her unique situation - hang on to what she knows and grew up with.
In fact, I would say anyone would cling even tighter to that emotional safety, especially when her home was the stable and loving environment that she describes.
While psychologically she was a tangled web of fear, confusion and distrust, the emotional familiarity would have been irresistibly comforting to her.
And like I said last week, every character in this saga is ultimately a loser.
Looking after herself first and foremost may be seen as selfish by some, but I reckon, faced with the same circumstances, it’s a decision we all would’ve and should’ve made.
Sometimes selfishness is necessary for self-preservation.
Miché is still getting counselling and is leaning on her religious convictions to help her get through this.
She says some days are better than others, but she sounds like she is going to be okay eventually.
She revealed to me that she is in the process of legally changing her birthdate to 28 April, the day on which Zephany was born.
She is also keen to add the name Zephany to her own, legally making her Miché Zephany Solomon - a little of both the people who define her.
During our interview, she mentions the word “forgiveness” frequently.
A lot of that is happening now; and she knows that a lot of forgiveness must still happen.
But for her, the dream outcome will be for both her families, the Solomons and the Nurses to get along and even eventually be friends.
I’m cheering for her.
She deserves her dream; and I hope she gets it.