This piece is dedicated to my friend Tressa Adhiambo Agolla who lost her mum three months ago and has not come to terms with her demise. Just like you, I lost my dad while I was away in School and it took a great toll on me. It took me years to accept his death, the good news is that finally last year after thirteen long years I came to terms with his demise. I am happy he is in a better place. This is to encourage and comfort you, I am assuring you that you are not alone and that mama is in a better place. It is even more disheartening when you are far away when your beloved goes to be with the Lord. Alot of things goes through your mind and you even wonder if your presence would have changed the situation. My friend, mama was a sweet woman and her absence is greatly felt. May God hold your hand and give you peace that surpasses human understanding. Remember that joy comes in the morning.
It was a windy and chilly evening, a perfect indication that August was well-nigh. It was exams time and I had three papers to go. This particular evening after taking my supper I felt so weak, an inexplainable sadness suddenly engulfed me. I recoiled to my own cocoon and spoke less that night. I took a piece of paper and made a hand made card addressed to my dad. I had missed him. Unknown to me I had written in past tense. Something that I came to realise later when reality struck in. I was quiet, it was so unlike me and my friends wondered what was wrong. I do not know if I am psychic or not, but what I know is that something was about to happen and I could not place my hands on it. Whatever it was, it had changed my mood.
I had a paper that morning of 29/07/2002 that went upto break time. Some minutes to one I was called to the Principal’s office. Being a class prefect I did not find it any odd but when I got in her office I found my aunt seated. I wondered what was wrong and after exchanging pleasantries I sought to know what prompted her visit. She had never visited me in School. I was aware that my dad was sick and seeing her sent mixed signals. I asked her if my dad had passed on and she had been sent to break the news to me. I was paranoid to say the least. She assured me my dad was fine and as a matter of fact she was on her way to town to get my dad some medicine the Doctor had prescribed. She managed to convince me all was well but deep down I knew all was not well. She later left asking me to work hard and wishing me the best in my remaining exam. She even gave me pocket money. I am told immediately she left my school fifteen minutes past one, she was called and informed dad had gone to be with the Lord. She had to go back to the hospital. That is how my dad passed on, just like that while I hoped he would hang on a few days till I closed School and went home to be beside him.
All my three siblings were home at that time, they got a chance to see dad atleast everyday while I was away in School having faith that I would make it home in time to see him leave alone say goodbye. Actually it is the worst feeling. How I prayed I would see him one last time, to be given a chance to spend time with him just to say goodbye. I believe God knew I was not strong enough to see him die, I loved my dad so much it would have crashed my spirit if he passed on while I was around. I still believe it was for my own good that I was away.
I finished my exams and it was on a Wednesday evening that the retired President Moi was officially opening the Agricultural Show of Kenya in Kisumu so as Rangers we were to welcome him by joining the procession. It was an unusual day as first I met a cousin who I asked how my dad was and he told me he was fine. I wanted to believe him but there was this conviction that dad was no more. I wonder what was up that day as I met my dad’s brother driving home. He spotted me and pulled over. He avoided eye contact throughout our conversation and had to lie to me that dad was fine and improving. He bid me bye and drove off. A few minutes later I met an aunt who outrightly was avoiding me and told me she was in a hurry to attend a church meeting as she was late. I asked her to greet everyone at home and she promised she would. I am not superstitious but I found the coincidence wanting. Something was not right. My sister had come the previous day but she was not allowed to see me as I was not yet done with the end of term exams.
The next day was on a Thursday, I had the handmade card I made my dad with me. At break time I saw my sister and her friend walk in to the Principal’s office, I was later called to go and meet them. My heart was racing in a way I could not explain. I remember telling my friends that I knew my dad had passed on and that is why my sister came, they rebuked my evil thoughts and told me my dad though sick would be fine. I walked to the Principal’s office and was ushered in by the secretary. I greeted them and sat on the sofa beside my sister. The Principal being aware my dad had been sick told me she was giving me permission to go and see my dad and come back after two days in time for the retreat at school. I asked my sister to wait as I got some few stuff from class. I took the card from my locker and I bid my friends bye. We left for home.
My sister’s demeanour was conflicting. She was sad but pretended to be strong. Her friends house was not far, they made me believe we were picking something from her house then we head straight home to change my uniform then proceed to the hospital. I was quiet on our way to her house in Arina Estate, they wondered if I knew already. They were playing mind games at me. We finally arrived and her friend ushered us in. Pam followed her friend to the bedroom for whatever reason it was unknown to me. She needed strength to compose herself to break the news to me. I removed the card from my bag to show it to Pam. When they joined me I showed it to her and she passed it to her friend. Her friend came close and held me. With tears in her eyes, Pam broke the news to me. I was remorseful but I shed no tear to their surprise. I told her that the day dad died, I had felt it. We prayed together and left her friends place for our home. Her place was not far from ours and in no time we arrived home to a site my mind badly wanted to ignore. When some relatives saw me they started crying again maybe hoping I would join them in mourning, sadly I did not. It was the state my grandma was in that killed me inside. She had lost her beloved first son and looked devastated. I greeted everyone present and went to look for my mum. I hugged her and we consoled each other. My mother was a strong woman and I admired her more.
At sixteen years I had lost my dad. The only pillar we had, our support system who looked out for us. I worked hard in school to make him proud. To everyones shock I remained composed, being that I loved my dad so much they expected I would cry alot. Honestly I do not know what was happening to me but I kept to myself. I spent the afternoon in the bedroom sleeping and was even unable to take dinner. Some few minutes past seven relatives started arriving just in time to attend funeral meeting. They were seated in the living room discussing arrangements to lay my dad to rest. I started recalling the promises dad made to me and how the last sixteen years with him were. I somewhat felt my dreams would never materialise as I had lost my mentor. I was overwhelmed and started sobbing. I could not control myself and wept loudly. I was inconsolable. I had disrupted the meeting that was underway as mum came to the bedroom to comfort me. I saw a tear in her eyes which she brushed away. My aunties came to comfort me as they cried too. I asked them to let me mourn my dad and they did. I cried my heart out but it was not enough to erase the pain I felt inside. I wished baba was around and that it was just a dream. My wish was just that, a wish.
I cannot recall a day that passed by that dad missed taking drugs. We had even been familiar with the drugs and their dosage and would administer them even in mum’s absence. Adalat, Inderal, Indocid, Septrin were among the drugs he took daily. Some were for the bouts of gouts he suffered from while others were to stabilise his blood pressure. He was also on insulin shots as he had been diagnosed with Diabetes. I sympathised with him many atimes but he bravely fought the sickness. Dad was finally laid to rest on 10/08/2002.
It is fourteen years today and I miss you so much dad but I know you are in a better place. The immense love you had for us no one can match, your position in our hearts is still intact. Abonga you were the best gift God gave to us and we cherish the moments we shared with you. Atieno wuod(son of) Zakayo you are fondly remembered today. Today you have eight grandchildren that only get to hear about you when we share with them the stories you once told us. We loved you baba but God loves you more. I am comforted knowing that you died in the Lord and we will meet someday in heaven. I am still your Emochka, till we meet again.
To all of you reading this and has lost a loved one, may your tears be dried and trust only in God as He has best plans for us. May you find immense joy in Christ. To those who still have their loved ones around, kindly cherish them and treat them right. All I have is memories of my dad, love yours while he is still around. God bless.