Perspective: The colourful life of Lachie

Perspective: The colourful life of Lachie
Artwork by Ariel
While 1000 friends, family, colleagues and admirers of Australian artist Margaret Olley gathered together yesterday to celebrate her life, life's work and fierce and determined spirit at her state memorial, across Sydney, not so far away, a hundred friends – supported by 2340 Facebook friends – gathered to reflect on the short life of Lachlan Hulsman.

Little Lachie was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition just 10 days after his birth, but he fought his condition for 10 whole months with many of us sitting, quite helplessly, on the sidelines as his mum and dad, uncles and aunts, loyal friends, doctors and nurses, joined his parents as they battled the condition with their little bloke, never giving up hope. 

They read to him from his favourite rainbow book, watched as he became mesmerised with Baby Einstein and tried to feed him to build him up strong despite his purse-lipped determination to never willingly let the goop pass his lips. He got wonderfully plump, he did, all deliciously ruby-hued on those pudgy apples of the cheek beneath those big, baby-blue eyes.

And then, after a terribly cold and wet winter and the sickness it brought, it was time to go, his life very short, but his story is the stuff that gets you thinking that this life thing, well, it's very much worth living. Because in those 10 months a little family pulled together when they could have been torn apart, and the ripple effect of that love was felt right across the globe.

"A day to celebrate your beautiful boy, and his pure spirit, personality and strength, and the incredible impact that loving him and sharing him with the world has brought," wrote Lisa Philipsen on his Facebook page. "It seems little Lachlan has had more of an impact on so many people in his short little life than one person could in a life time," added Sarah McAulay.

While undoubtedly exhausted, worn out, and in quiet moments overcome with it all, his parents refused to give in to despair. Lachie, it was said, chose his parents very well. And yesterday, as they carried him into the memorial space, and placed him under a spectacular rainbow of balloons, and then took turns to share of his life with the rest of us, we were all amazed, and thankful.

Love. By golly, does it not conquer all? The love that was shown at the Children's Hospital, between all Lachie's mates, and in the Bear Cottage where his parents were able to stay, and in those quiet moments at home in his parents' or aunty's care, strengthened him enough to be all he could be while he was here.

Though, ultimately, we can make choices that might prolong our stay in this earthly place, we don't really get to decide when we come or when we depart. So what to make of each day? Each hour? When we do leave, we can only hope to look down from heaven and say, 'I loved a lot, and did my best to make the world a more bearable place and to stand for what is good and just and true. Now, I too, am content to be on my way.'

While Olley leaves behind a famously cluttered Paddington house and her artworks and passion for painting and generosity to galleries and people, too, Lachie is lending a hand to help others have a happier, more comfortable stay at the Children's Hospital ICU. He's raised over $10,000 so far. That's what love can do.

He's inspired so many others to do something, and live more wholeheartedly, too. And to thank God for what we have – who we have – instead of lamenting what we do not. Thank you, beautiful little boy, for this gift and for fighting a good fight. And to your parents for loving you so very much that we could all feel it in our hearts, as if Jesus himself were there amongst us with his comforting touch.

Girl With a Satchel