She's barely been seen in public since her husband was admitted to hospital in the dead of a midwinter night.
Until she stepped out recently to tell the nation how Madiba was doing, all we’d seen of her was a glimpse through a car window – and in that glimpse the broad smile that can light up a room and has endeared her to princes, presidents and the poor alike was nowhere to be seen.
Instead Grac¸a Machel looked solemn and drawn – a woman no doubt preparing for the inevitable while dreading the unthinkable.
Her smile was back, albeit it a little less radiantly so, when she left Nelson Mandela’s bedside to tell us that, although Madiba was at times uncomfortable and a few times in pain, he was fine.
Read Nicola Whitfield's article in YOU 18 July 2013