Today is day twenty since my dad left the WhatsApp group of the living. I’m still partially in denial that he’s gone forever, quietly hoping the admin removed him by mistake and will bring him back to the group. It feels like he’s just gone for a trip to shags and his return has been delayed by the curfew. That’s the reason I did not post a story last Friday. Apologies for that folks. I was in that blank zone and couldn’t put my thoughts on a page.
We laid dad to rest last week Monday and I’ve been on autopilot since. Stuff that needs to be done comes up and we attend to it like robots. At least that’s how I’ve been functioning. My response to the simple greeting, how are you? requires me to think about the answer. Because I don’t know how I am most of the time. But I’m also not sure you want to hear how I am because I’m not fine and don’t want to lie.
The problem with loving someone deeply is because when they go the void left to fill is so huge it threatens to swallow you up. Maybe this is why some people hold back from giving their all in relationships. So that should their significant other leave them then moving on will be easier. I know it’s no way to live, holding back and denying others the gift of us. We also get deprived of the good in others that would enrich our lives. It goes both ways. To have a friend you also have to be a friend.
My family and I were amazed at the outpouring of love, comfort and support from different corners. During the funeral meetings at St Andrew’s church, I would hear stuff about my dad that I knew nothing about from people’s tributes. I felt like I was being introduced to him. I’m now less confident to say that I knew him well. His circle of influence was evidently much wider than I thought.
Apart from seeing my father in a new light I also started feeling like he and I were more similar than I thought. One tribute from a Mzee who worked with dad in the 70s and 80s particularly stood out. He described my father as having two strong traits. He was a down to earth guy even when he was in senior positions at work. Secondly, he demanded and aimed for high standards in his work. At least for the down to earth part, I think I’m like that. On the high standards in my work, it’s a work in progress. That confirms that indeed the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Dad was a good tree and I’m blessed to have been his fruit. I pray that my son will one day say the same about his father. That is how I will measure that I have been a success in this life.
The morning of the day mzee passed away, I went to see him in hospital. He had had a rough night and was not in good shape compared to the day before where he had even waved at my sister and me. Little did we know he was waving us kwaheri. I felt the need to be alone with Sir God. This time it was my turn to tell him –“ we need to talk”. I left the hospital and went running in Karura. I was gripped with fear of losing my father and helplessness because there was nothing in my power that I could do to save Mzee. It was a muddy run as it had rained the night before. That helped because my tears could pass for the drizzle from the trees falling on my face hence not attracting attention from fellow runners and walkers.
After intense negotiation with sir God, I made two appeals. I asked him to heal my dad and secondly not to bring his family to shame. I’m not sure where that second appeal came from but I felt it impressed upon my heart. I somehow feel that was dad’s prayer too at the time. At 8.30 pm that same day dad slipped away from us. It is getting clear that God answered my prayer. He healed my father by taking him away from a life of pain and struggle. And he also did not bring Laban Marang’as family to shame because all the bills were paid with the resources we had. Folks, God still answers prayers just like he did back in biblical times. It’s just his version of the answer that may differ from ours sometimes.
Now we are navigating the difficult and lonely part where everyone returns to their lives and we have to settle into our new normal as a family. I have tried fitting in his shoes over the last three weeks and I can confirm that his size was much bigger than mine. After the funeral, It was sad seeing off friends and family who had come to stay with us. It was like guys leaving a zoom call one by one and you are left alone as the host yet you don’t want to end the meeting. Having many people around us was a good distraction from the emptiness we were feeling.
I wished they didn’t have to go, but I’ve also been that person who has left after consoling a friend or family member in their bereavement. With that in mind, I released them roho safi. My family is indebted to all those good humans who put their lives on pause to be with us over the last few weeks. Asanteni sana.
We will adjust slowly to life without dad. A day at a time feels too long. I prefer half a day at a time or better still just a moment after another. I now join a new WhatsApp group of fatherless folks but I sense dad’s investment in us will still guide us as we endelea na safari. He’s just transitioned to a new improved version but remains forever in our hearts and minds. I still long for his bear hug though after fussing that I’ve tupad him almost every time we met.
Walk with us in spirit baba. We so need you.