Thursday March 26 2015: A year ago, around this time, some of your
children and your wife gathered around you rejoicing. You had been hospitalized at Aga Khan that past Saturday and we were so happy to see you go home after five nights in the hospital. You were so joyful Dad as you left hospital. You said the last prayer and blessed your entire family. But it was not the first time you had blessed us Daddy; this was something you did each time we gathered. Just about two weeks before, you had blessed us when we were gathered to plan your 40th wedding anniversary, scheduled for April 4, 2015. We were eager for you to get out of hospital so we could finalize the plans.
Dad, we had talked about saving costs for your hospital bills
from our family account. You had told us to walk by faith. That is, you had given us permission to use the money we had set aside for your medical bills to throw you and Mom a party to celebrate God’s faithfulness: 40 years of marriage, 6 children, 4 sons and daughters in law, and 7 grandchildren. By the way Dad, that number has grown by 3. One added son in law, a grandson named after you, and a granddaughter.
You were always in a good mood in spite of your ailing health. Oh Dad, you were so brave. Mom often scolds me about my low tolerance to pain. Unlike you, I take pain killers at the slightest pain. But you Dad, you would endure so much discomfort without complaining. In fact, we sometimes did not know you were in pain.
I loved your zest for life Dad. You loved a good party with nyama choma, kuku choma – lots of good food. Everything the doctor said was bad for you. But it was still not a complete party except you were surrounded by your family. Oh how you loved all of us. You appeared most content when surrounded by your children and your grandchildren.
Dad, you taught me so much about God. You often woke up in the wee hours of the morning to pray. I could not hear what you were saying, but I could hear you heaving and weeping – all I knew is that I was loved and covered in prayer. I would roll over and sleep, overwhelmed by a feeling of security. In church, I loved to see you lift up your holy hands to your Saviour during worship.
On that Thursday evening a year ago Dad, I rejoiced to know you were out of hospital. Of course you had to get out – we had an anniversary in a week’s time. The only thing we had not settled was whether we would wear red or black. I think we decided both.
Since you were out of hospital, I could finally sleep soundly. Oh Dad. How were we to know that this very night at around 3.30am, your heart would fail, and you would meet your Beloved Jesus face to face. And shortly as soon as you slipped into eternity, I woke up.This was very unusual for me. My alarm had been set for 5.30am, but it was almost 4am.
The first thing that alarmed me was a missed call from my sister in love at 3.30am. I dared not think the worst – so I did not call her back. I settled down to have some time to fellowship with the Lord before proceeding to work. When I saw a family friend calling, I knew something was wrong.
Trembling, I dialed Mom’s phone. My sister answered. And I could hear Mom crying in the background. And Dad, I knew you had gone home.
I was confused Dad about many things, including the fact that you would not walk me down the aisle. You had prayed for my husband for so long, asking God to give me a man after his own heart. I could hardly wait to introduce the two of you. I was also startled that we would have a grave in the compound, which we just renovated with grass and flowers, so you and Mom could enjoy. I could not understand how you could go home a week before your anniversary celebration.
Somehow, I made it to my sister in love’s house in the wee hours of the morning. “We were planning a funeral instead of a wedding?” I asked her blankly, my eyes now puffy, as if she had answers. She was nursing her own grief at the same time trying to be strong for me.
For the one week planning your burial, it was almost surreal. Dad, I could not go to view your body. I wanted to remember you alive. When your casket was wheeled into church, I broke down. Why were about a thousand people gathered and you were missing? And so on the day we were to celebrate your anniversary, we had a funeral ceremony instead and buried your body. Almost everything we had planned for the anniversary, we turned around for the funeral.
“We were planning an earthly wedding, but God was planning a heavenly one,” Mom said.
So many people came for your funeral Dad. Oh Dad, you were loved both in life and in death. But even as we lowered your body into the grave, I knew in my heart that your soul was not there. Your soul was in heaven. And that gave me so much peace, and the courage to go on.
Shortly after your death, the Lord had comforted me with these words:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25 -26.
Dad, I felt like the Lord was asking me that question, which he asked Martha. And my answer was Yes, I believe. And that gave me peace to go on because I know you live. One day, when the Lord returns, we shall be reunited. Oh Dad, I cannot wait to see you again!! And we will never be separated. Dad, this is the best gift you left me and my siblings and Mom. You lived for Jesus, and so we needn’t worry about where you are. You are at a safe place and we will see you again.
A year later, we are still adjusting to not seeing you in the house. The hardest part for me is that you are missing in the family events and in the pictures. But I know one day it will not have to be so. In Christ, there are no goodbyes. Only see you later. Because the best gift we can give our loved ones, and the best they can give us is the assurance that we are not eternally separated by believing in Jesus. See you later Daddy.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.