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Today Mwango Katema was laid to rest in his final resting place, next to his father. I’m praying for peace and comfort at this time for all, especially Manenga, Mutale, Chishimba and Aunty Martina and all the countless people he touched, and they (his family) all touched, as their loss is our loss.

Manenga’s cousin shared this and it sums up what we need to remember as we go forward:

He’s just gone to sleep and soon we shall be together again, some day, and what a wonderful day that will be! For the word of God says ‘I will raise him up on the last day.’

May your soul rest in eternal peace Mwango.

One love

I’ve spent the last few days grieving the loss of my friend’s husband. Yesterday as I spoke to a mutual friend who recently lost her mum, we discussed the expected type of grieving in Zambia.

During her mum’s funeral she was told to ‘let go and cry’ and no one could understand her when she assured them that she had cried and that she wasn’t holding anything back. The thing is in Zambia, people expect you to be inconsolable and wailing your lungs out. But they forget that everyone grieves differently.

No one who has ever lost a loved one can say that you only mourn in the moment. Grief stays with you forever. You have good days and bad days. A loved on is never forgotten. I’m not an advocate of ‘being strong’ in times of mourning, not that I ever listen to my own advice, I think you have to allow yourself to grieve, whether that’s by throwing yourself on the ground and crying until you’re sore and have a headache, or whether it’s through quiet reflection and stillness, or whatever it is that allows you to feel. The pain of losing a loved one is nothing anyone can explain so how can they be a manual as to how to grieve and how to pick up the pieces and move on?

Taking each day as it comes is probably the second best advice I’ve heard. You don’t know how you’ll feel or what the next day will bring, so you have to put one foot in front of the other and trust in your faith to get through it.

This is all I pray for my friends because right now,I know they are scared of what tomorrow will bring, but we have to believe that we can and will get through it.

This has been one of the worst weekends I’ve ever experienced. Late on Saturday night, I got a call that one of my closest friend’s husband had died in a tragic car accident. In that instant my friend had been made a widow at only 30.

She was on the verge of changing her whole life, moving to Zambia, giving up her job and starting afresh. And all that changed in a moment. A sad moment.

Her husband was also a great guy, so full of energy, and they were both so in love. They were like the perfect couple. They were a beautiful couple. It’s hit everyone so hard, and affecting me even harder than I could ever imagine.

I knew him, not that well, but his wife was becoming like my best friend (even at our age, we can still have best friends – more than one as well), so to have her go through this, is heartbreaking. My heart literally is breaking for her.

Also having lost two brothers, I feel for his sister, who is also a friend of mine. Losing someone so full of life really reminds you how tomorrow is not promised and how we need to be thankful for every moment we have and count our blessing. But it also means we can’t focus on planning for tomorrow but living for today.

It reminds me of this poem my friend – actually Mwango’s sister – sent me that says that life begins when you do. It’s about living in the moment and not putting of what can be done today for tomorrow.

We always have excuses; not enough money, waiting for a qualification, waiting for the right time, etc, but we need to just do it because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

As heartbreaking as this situation is, it also puts things in perspective, don’t sweat the small stuff. And remember to tell the people who matter, that they matter.

Right now, I’ve turned to the Bible for comfort in this moment of darkness and I know that one day, somehow, the light will shine through again. It’s not our job to question God, but sometimes you do want to understand why. I believe like all lives lost, Mwango had a purpose, a purpose we might not yet know, but his life touched too many people for him not to have a purpose. This is the Bible passage that I’m reading over and over again, and finding some comfort in it.

Isaiah 41:10, 13
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. . . . For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Today I’m being soft, allowing myself to feel all the pain, and be in the moment, as much as it hurts. Because I know when she comes back, she’ll need me and all her friends more than ever, as she begins to face a whole new life. But it’s hard. The pain is almost unbearable, it’s been a long time since I’ve allowed myself to feel pain. Usually I sweep hurt and pain under the carpet, refusing to feel, but when you do that, eventually it comes out and maybe that’s what’s happened to me.

I’ve dealt with my other friend losing her mum two weeks ago and now this happening to Manenga. It’s too much pain for my good friends to go through and as I’m quite empathetic my energy source is depleted – too much too soon. It’s something my therapist has said to me time and time again (yes I’m one of those black people that does believe that there’s nothing wrong with therapy), I feel too much and that if I’m not careful, I’ll deplete my energy source. I can’t deal with too much trauma too soon. Probably because of never properly dealing with my own personal hurt in the past.

I’m trying to be there for everyone but have perhaps not taken enough care of myself either, and takes like this when being alone doesn’t help. Could do with someone taking care of me for a bit. But then I feel selfish, I’m not the one who has lost, so why do I need a hug? I just need to get my strength back and be the rock for everyone.

Tomorrow I’ll try to be strong but for today I’m being soft. And praying.

RIP Mwango Katema

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