For two days, I tried to explain what “gone to be with the Lord” meant to my 12 year old brother. It was the 28th of December 2002, families were celebrating, children were having lots of fun but our Christmas tree was taken down. There was no Christmas light in front of the door anymore and the house was filled with crying adults. That was when I noticed him; he was just 3 years old.
A few days after my dad was laid to rest, everyone went back to their lives. No one was around to ask if we have had anything to eat. No one was there to beg me to “please go to sleep” like they did when we first received the news. No one was there to tell me “it would be okay”. Suddenly, I knew that we were all alone.
Schools resumed and I dreaded going back for second term. My mum had no money for school stuff. I cried, but only for a little while and then I took my bags and went to school. I wished I had cried a lot. Maybe, that would have helped. Everyone around me thought I was coping so well because I became an amazing actress. I would put on a fake smile, go out with friends and continue to go to classes like I was fine. On the inside, however, I was crushed just imagining how my mum and brothers at home were coping.
If you knew me in Secondary School, you’d know that I was a very strong teenage girl; even before my dad’s death, people called me “ iron lady” but this time it was different, I had to put up an appearance and it went on till the end of the term. When I finally got back home after the term, I remember my mum’s look when I stepped into the living room. I completely broke down and started weeping. She had lost a lot of weight and kept saying “I am sorry, I didn’t send you money while you were in school.” I went to my room, sat on the floor crying and shaking, and then he walked in. He was already 4 years old.
It was difficult going back to school knowing I had to write my final exams. I had no idea how I would cope. Didn’t even know how to tell my friends. The pain just didn’t go away. We had a lot of plans for my graduation. Was I going to even have a “graduation party?” I was sad and hid away, crying my eyes out almost every night. I could no longer recognize the girl in the mirror; a once happy, full of life girl was now paled by grief and sadness.
Sadly! I flopped my final exams.
Losing my father at 16 was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with. My dad was my best friend. He taught me everything I knew about being a girl. We talked about everything, from etiquette, to personal hygiene. We talked about boys and men, we read my first love letter together and he ‘dissed’ the poor boy for using lines out of Songs of Solomon.
I have learned so much from the things I have been through. I have seen and felt the hand of God in my life and have experienced closeness with my saviour that I may never have had.
This is by far, the hardest thing I ever had to go through and being able to share with you all has made it a lot easier.
Courage, Strength, Choices.