…And then there was silence…I kept looking outside the window – things in the court were same as they always were – my neighbours going about their lives oblivious to the fact that at our house, life had basically come to a standstill. All I wanted was to get a loudspeaker and go around the court alerting everybody that the great man, whom they knew, loved, and esteemed, had exited the earth and nothing would be the same again.
One of my sisters came with the neighbourhood doctor to certify that indeed dad was gone. I wanted to see what he was going to do, but couldn’t stay in the room. I was peeping round the door just as he finished and did the unthinkable – he covered dad’s face with the sheet! How could he! At that moment I could have shoved him into the wall (God knows I wanted to) but I waited till he left to uncover dad’s face. It was too much.
Then the hospital called – the staff at the renal unit wanted to confirm that we were still going for our mid-morning dialysis session. But alas, the patient they used to call “Stano” was not going in today. He had gone to honour a more important appointment: he was with Jesus. Man, it was so hard telling them that. More than six months later, talking about my dad’s passing has never got easier.
At around noon while we waited for the police paperwork to be completed and hearse to arrive, in came one of my father’s dearest friends, a pastor from the church together with an assistant. My first thought was that one of us had notified the church, but it turned out the Reverend had come for the monthly Holy Communion fellowship as per the church’s custom of visiting ailing members. But how could it be? They usually visited us on the last Thursday of the month and furthermore someone from the church would call earlier in the week to confirm the appointment. I can only say this was the work of God. To say that the pastor was shaken is an understatement. Here he was, looking forward to spending some quality time in the presence of God with his good friend only to be met with the shocking news. My dad loved him – they loved each other so much. During the last few months of incapacitation, the reverend was one of the few people my dad responded to; lighting up at the mere sound of his voice.
When the hearse arrived, all the ladies stepped outside at the attendant’s request leaving me, my brother-in-law, the pastor and his assistant in the room. I started steaming at this point. How can he just order me out?! He doesn’t even know me! I refused to budge and stood to the side with the pastor, the realization of my father’s passing beginning to hit me hard. At this point I was pacing around agitated, hands on my head, tears heavy in my eyes, not believing what was transpiring right before my eyes. The attendant put the thick canvas body bag on the floor next to the bed, uncovered my dad, and with my brother-in-law’s help, lowered dad’s body….when I heard the sound of his head hitting the floor I lost it and moved to punch the man for manhandling my dad. It was such a sombre moment, no one in the room could tell what I was about to do. I hesitated for half a second, turning back to look at dad’s friend and my resolve to punch melted away, replaced by the harsh reality that daddy, my daddy was gone. I instead rushed upstairs a sobbing mess, and called the first person I notified outside the family. I small-talked for a while trying to be cordial but he caught on immediately that something was wrong. The next person I called was my brand-new radio co-host who I had been training for just a couple of weeks. The interesting thing is that after doing the show the previous Saturday I had asked him if he felt ready to host the show solo, and we had agreed he would take the lead in the next show. It was now going to happen for sure, albeit not in the way we had envisioned. God knew.
A little over a week later, we travelled to my dad’s rural home to inter his body. Viewing my dad’s body was the hardest thing I ever had to do – we had been waiting at KU mortuary until his casket was released and then went ahead of it to the viewing tent. When I saw it being wheeled into the tent area I started thinking, “Oh my God now what is this!?” I was beginning to break down and if it wasn’t for my cousin who held me up, I would have clung onto the casket no kidding.
To date I still cry freely and often, and because my life and dad’s life were quite intertwined there are many gaps in mine now. One of my biggest prayers was that God would show me how to live without my dad. There are so many emotional and tangible reminders of his absence, that I always catch myself saying “oh, daddy!” when reality hits me again and again . I don’t know what it means to “get over” the death of someone whom you loved so much but I know that if getting over it means the feeling of loss fades away with time, I’m pretty sure I will never “get over it”. The best advice I received was from my cousin, who had himself lost his own dad a year before, was that you learn to live with it. And that’s what I’m doing, learning to live and thrive in this new season. I am more goal-directed than ever because there are so many promises I made to my dad that I have to fulfill. Help me God.