The song ‘Like you never left’ by Whitney Houston and Akon playing on Classic Fm reminds of Kevyn Aucoin when he says that every morning when he wakes up he can choose joy, happiness, negativity or pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices, breath fresh air and feel the stagnation by pollution – he declares that he chooses to feel life, not to deny his humanity but embrace it. This makes me think about the sanctity of life and how much we take so many things for granted. How we feel entitled to breath, smile, safely reach our destinations, take some pills and get well after illnesses…
It’s been an unbelievable couple of weeks with so much happening but God is gracious.
On 22nd November I received news that a longtime high school friend had passed on. The circumstances surrounding his death hadn’t been clear then so I didn’t believe it. The temptation to declare to the world my pain, surprise and devastation was immense but I just chose not to believe the news. So I kept quiet and off Social Media.
I wanted to believe something else other than Mike (not his real name) was gone. I wanted to call him and hear his voice on the other side of the line, I wanted to post something and see his reaction, I wanted to send him a text or a voice note and get a response… I wanted something better. I wanted to wake up from the dream.
The following day, after confirmation from a closer friend of his, I had to accept the way things were. I didn’t have a choice. Thereafter I asked myself endless questions as to why it was him. We had not seen each other for a while but that didn’t mean that we didn’t know each other’s state in life.
He was the lifist, the better man, the ever smiling human being. He was a man of the people. He chose to remain and stand resilient in the face of adversity, seeking to answer his calling to becoming the best and truest version of himself. He was aware that while doing the right thing is the right thing to do, he understood that a balance is the beauty of life–that negativity must, in some way, pave way for humanity.
The hooded vale of death had taken with it a young soul. If asked who should have passed on in his place I don’t know what I would have said but that didn’t mean that the cruelty of death was any easier to his family, friends and acquaintances. I know that we are all on a journey and that one day our time to go will come but I never expected it to have been that soon for my friend.
His burial was last Friday (2nd). I traveled to Machakos with a few friends to pay our last respects an ounce of ourselves still in disbelief. The Ukambani sun shone brilliantly and the virescent color of the day under its glare was offensively bright and cheerful. It was as if they conspired to show us how the world would go on without him. Everything should have been as grey and foggy as the raw emotions in the compound, it should have been cold and damp with silent air.
The magnitude of despair in everyone’s eyes mostly his mum and sisters was enormous. They had lost the only man they had known for seventeen years. To the mum, he was the man of the house, to his sisters, he was the only brother they knew and somewhat a father figure in a long time.
Struggling to hold back the grief, tears flowed steadily, silently down immobile faces, feelings of pain, numbness, emptiness too heavy to hold back… Looking at the coffin, saying goodbye although he was already gone, the soul unwilling to acknowledge the finality of death, never to look upon his smiling face again or feel his laughter and embrace, see the warmth in his eyes, be surrounded by his infectious affection for life. Words from the preacher, speeches from the family, friends and relatives brought a fresh onslaught of tears, well spoken words, a tribute to his life and love of happiness and contentment…
Sometime after I met someone who asked me whether I thought anyone would cry if I died. Automatically I said I thought my mum would. She asked me the reason I thought she would cry; would it be because she had lost a son or would the reason be that I had been of some significance to her and my family when still alive. It’s a question that made me think about life, my role in it and the people I had lost along the way.
I know I will die. We all will someday. Will anyone feel the gap you leave behind or will people don black clothes for a few days and move on with life like nothing happened? Will anyone even cry at your funeral or will they gasp a sigh of relief? How will the service be? Will it be well attended or will it just be your relatives? Will they even show up? What would happen if tomorrow started without you or I? What would the world remember you by if it did at all?
Mike’s death made me reevaluate so many things about this opportunity we have been given in the universe. I for once accepted the fact that life is indeed fickle and flimsy. Its vibrancy can be squashed like two fingers putting out a candle. One minute you’re breathing and the next you’re off into oblivion.
I asked myself; What do I love doing that I am not doing? What do I want to be remembered by? If I had to add something to humanity, what would my contribution be? The answers to those questions were eye opening. I have one life to live. One shot to be the best version of myself that I can ever be.
In the words of Andrea Balt I understand that our world is constantly being created through us and there is no meaning outside of us that won’t take our deepest, greatest truth in consideration. She advises we should skip love, money or fame if they don’t come as a result of our life-driving truth – they’re the roof to our inner house, and to add a roof we must first discover, understand and create that house.
Make a difference when you can, don’t be that person who accepts the value of life when they take the last breath of it. Pray more, serve more, touch lives more, make a long lasting impact, complain less… In the words of Auliq Ice, endeavor to appreciate life while you experience it, for some will never experience life again, because they have already taken their last breath.