Sting? A Tribute: The Finale (Part 5)

1st January 2009. Woke up ready to go to hospital and visit Dandara. We exchanged Happy New Year greetings. Little did we know what had transpired the previous night. My Dad called all of us to the sitting room. Without any decorum, he informed us that Dandara had passed on the previous night at 19.00hrs. The world stopped. That instance, the very moment he said it, I lost a part of me. Thinking someone will die, and that person dying is two completely different things. Death has such a finality to it that is more cruel than ten Hitlers. Even 1,000 Hitlers.

We all sat there, lost in thought, sponging in the news and analyzing the implications of the news we had just received. My Dad narrated to us how he received the news, on his way home. How he went and hooked up with his boys for a drink in “his local bistro” and how they were there for him in a way only boys are there for their boys. He got home around eleven o’clock in the pm. Very late compared to other days. We had noticed he was dull that night (on New Year’s Eve), but we assumed that the whole hospital business had taken a toll on him.

This was the second death in my family. I lost my mother when I was fresh out of high school. She actually died in my presence but that is a story for another day. If you have a mother, stop reading this, call her and tell her that you love her. No one in this world will ever replace your mother. It don’t matter how many times y’all fight. I am a girl, I know. I fought with mine, constantly. It was and is still very painful not having a mother. However, if we follow the flow of nature (I can’t believe I am saying this out loud) you will realise even biblically, it is actually a blessing to bury your parents. Disclaimer: When they are ripe of age. The thing that made my mother’s death extremely painful, was the fact that she was robbed off our lives before her life had even began. They say life begins at 40.

Now my brother was dead. Losing a sibling is something I cannot explain to anyone. I think kids are closer to each other than they are to their parents, at least when they are growing up. Think about it, you are closest to your siblings the fighting notwithstanding. Now that you have the picture perfectly painted, let me add that because my mother died when we was very young, I raised my brother. So, I also had an attachment to him, like that of a mother to a child. On top of that, us three kids were extremely tight. Because life and circumstances had taught us that we only had each other. We were so tight, that people often used as the S. I. unit for tight siblings. Besides that we had grown even tighter with my bro during his long illness. I could almost say the three of us, my sister, brother and I were like trio-soul-mates. His death hurt worse than hell. I wondered many things, how he felt when he was leaving his body, where he was now, whether the pain had stopped, whether he was flashing his handsome smile, whether he was still cracking the silly jokes he used to crack. I wondered many things.

After crying, I mean hysterically crying, calling relatives and friends to inform them, updating my FB status, showering, I am sure I didn’t have breakfast that morning (ponders) it was time to start doing business. I asked my Dad what he wanted to do, and he said his first agenda was to move my brother’s from the MP Shah Hospital to Kikuyu Hospital Mortuary. That is the same place my mother and grandfather were kept. Very decent place. I hate Chiromo Mortuary with a passion. So, we headed to MP Shah Hospital to clear stuff along with my uncles and male cousins. Because my sister’s baby was only two years old then, she was not able to join us. When we got to MP Shah Hospital, I remembered how often my brother had joked about one day being in that morgue. I hated him for being right, but I missed him terribly.

A burial committee was set up and it’s biggest agenda was to make a substantial payment to the hospital. They had been kind enough to release my brother based on a gentleman agreement. We ran an orbituary on the dailies and by way of sms and radio announcement requested friends, relatives and well wishers alike to help us clear the bill. At the time of his death, the bill was standing at a whooping 2.2 Million Kenya Shillings. A date was set for a fundraiser. What can I say? Sigh. People showed up in the droves. Childhood friends, colleagues, old colleagues, friends of friends, neighbours, old neighbours, relatives, well wishers, strangers, Dandara’s classmates, his friends. It is said that your gift will give you audience with kings, Dandara’s social and good humoured nature, charismatic spirit and charm brought even our Member of Parliament, he was the Guest of Honour. Never underestimate the goodness of humanity. The world is full of many wonderful people. If I ever have as much as a shadow of a doubt, I will be sure to refer to that day. Thanks to everyone’s generosity we were able to reduce the bill substantially.

Friday, 9th January 2009, the D-day. It has been a tough week. Each day was occassioned by a lot of running up and down, and going to bed late, the fatigue had definitely caught up with us. We all woke up late on this morning but we quickly prepared ourselves. We all put on our new clothes. Black ones. Soon everyone expected arrived and we all drove down to Kikuyu where my brother was lying. We stood outside as other families received their loved ones. Wailing, they did. I have heard many people make jokes about professional mourners in the Western regions of Kenya, but the wailing that was going on here in the heart of Kikuyu was nerve wrecking. My Dad called my sister and I sideways and very politely but firmly reminded us that wailing in such a manner would not bring our brother back to life. Interestingly, we shared his sentiments.

I have been a member of one church for almost ten years now. My Pastor was in charge of the burial ceremony. He and his wife were very supportive even from the days of the hospitalization. It was our turn to go in. Before we did, the Pastor led us in prayer. Let me say that God’s comfort was evident in our lives, because we got strength like you wouldn’t believe. I walked in, looked at my brother, talked to him even, and walked out. He looked so peaceful. My Dad and Sister were all waiting for me to collapse or something (yes, I am the softie in my family) but I managed. My two very dear friends, and Pastor’s wife supported me on either side of my arms. Soon, every one had viewed him. The procession to his final resting place, my father’s home began.

As I write this story, I don’t understand how I didn’t die that day. Every time we say “God’s grace is sufficient” we say it in a manner so cliché almost making these words sound like a fallacy. God’s hand surely under-guarded my family. None of us was hysterical, or defeated. I can almost hear people say “they look strong”. I hear people say this all the time. Guys, no one is ever strong for this stuff. The maker of the universe Himself gets involved and helps us mere mortals go through it. Sometimes I wish, He would abolish death altogether.

From the attendance of the burial, one would have easily assumed it was a big shot who had died. There were SO MANY PEOPLE. So. Many. Young. People. It was incredible! Dandara was truelly loved. The funeral service began. The songs were nice (not dirgy) 🙂 My sister had writted a poem for my brother, which she read. I sang a song with my friends, and my Dad read the Eulogy.

The Eulogy was the highlight of that burial. Many days after the burial of my brother, people still talked about the Eulogy that was not only read, but written by my father. My Dad is an Editor by profession but he is currently a lecturer at a reputable university. Needless to say, his writing skills are second to none (if I may say so myself). Men don’t cry, and if they do (goes a Kikuyu adage) their tears fall inside. My Dad mourned my brother through writing the Eulogy. He documented every single thing that we he had gone through as a father in detail, while giving it the emotion he felt at the time. It was the most incredible Eulogy I have ever read even listened to. My grand father’s was a close, second. Also written by my father. Because I have aroused your curiosity, I would like to share an excerpt of my favourite part in this Eulogy …

… For Dandara’s father, the death of his eldest son came as a manifestation of the Greatest Pain challenging the Greatest Love. The Greatest Pain is the death of a child, after seeing that child suffer, for example when you hear his wracking cough in the morning, a cough brought about by cancer-ruined lungs, or when the father watches his laboured breathing with a ventilator fixed to the incision opening to a tube inserted through tracheotomy. The Greatest Love is the love of a parent for his child. When this challenge happens, you must seek understanding, you must seek any manifestations of comfort and solace in the given situation.

The understanding will hardly be complete, but seize on all the positives. With Dandara’s death comes the cessation of his suffering. It is comforting that Dandara had this great courage that easily transcended his suffering, that his mind and his spirit refused to be daunted until the end. And mustn’t one celebrate the fact that the family held together till the last minute, that the sisters and cousins of Dandara held his hand as he wasted away?…

My Dad read the Eulogy, all three pages of it both in English and Kikuyu. I would like to salute every person that attended the funeral because people listened and sat still through this very long session. No one showed any signs of impatience, after all, hadn’t we all come together to bid Dandara farewell? There wasn’t much to do after the reading of the Eulogy. It was time to go to the grave area and finish the job. When I look at the pictures that were taken on that day, I can’t believe how calm we all looked, as we walked there. This was the hardest part. You already know that. And I cried properly. My Dad and sister didn’t cry. So I also cried their tears. I watched my little brother go down, down, down. Not in the style of Mary J. Blige. Then he landed. And then we were given soil, to throw *at* him, come on guys, who came up with that ritual? We threw the soil 😦

Right before they started spading the soil into the grave, something SUPERNATURAL happened. My Pastor was reading 1 Cor. 15: 55 “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” These words came alive to me like you wouldn’t believe.

I felt a very strong peace engulf me, and it suddenly hit me! Dandara was not the stinged one, because the pain was gone.

Death was defeated. Sting?

Yeah, I just said that!

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    • nymmoh
    • February 3rd, 2011

    I feel like I knew your bro, like i shared in your suffering. May the good Lord continue to make it better everyday. Dandara’s spirit liveth forever. Death is cruel thats for sho yet so inevitable. You are a strong girl sugar, to share with us your moment of pit bottomness n pain.Bless you

    • I can’t thank you enough for reading this tribute. I can’t read it myself. LOL. Blessings hun. Love you!

  1. I hate the sound the soil makes when it hits the coffin, that is the worst part, it never fails to draw tears. Well done, a fitting finale for a beautiful tribute. I’m kind of sad it’s the last one. (Tribute, not blog post.)

    • Hey Momo. Many thanks for making time to read, for following and for your kind comments. Yes, the soil hitting the coffin sound is torturous!

  2. I emphatize with you. This post reminds me of my aunt’s funeral

  3. Meant to say empathise. Forgive my spelling mistake

    • Buggz79
    • February 4th, 2011

    A very powerful story. Its impossible not to reflect on all I am blessed with after reading this.

    Thank you for sharing your story…and for telling it even more beautifully.

    Be blessed.

    • Eve Hearts Photography
    • February 10th, 2011

    Just bumped into your blog thru a friend… and I already feel connected to you thru this posts about your brother. I too lost my mum, and I wish I could find the words to put it in writing like you did. Am sure Dandara and your sweet mum are smiling down…
    Baraka Tele!

    • Eve, I would love to know which friend referred you to my blog. They should be rewarded. I checked out you blog and it’s all things beautiful. I would love a photoshoot. No kidding. Hit me up.

  4. a beautiful tribute. I cried through it, then smiled at the end. You’re absolutely right, death lost its sting when Jesus rose. Hope lives on, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks dearest for reading. I am the biggest cryer you know. Hope you are consoled.

    • Yvonne R
    • February 14th, 2011

    This is very well narrated and I commend you for sharing! I sunk and rose with you amid torrents of tears; sorry for your loss(es). God bless you and your family abundantly.

    • Thanks Yvonne. You are a blessing to me just for reading this. Stay blessed.

  5. Waaar. I came in rather late and have read the tribute word for word from Part 1. I lost my brother in 2006 and I feel your pain.Pole sana for your loss.

    Like momoknows says, that sound when the soil hits the coffin…

    • Wowzers. 5 of them, back to back! I salute you Shiko. You are courageous. Ever hear of those actors who act horror movies, yet they can’t watch them? That’s me right there. Karibu tena 🙂

  6. I love the way you’ve written this post.

    • Thanks Savvy! I wrote it from my heart. May be that helped 🙂

  7. Thank you for sharing. I’m glad there was peace in the end. You didn’t lose him if you know where he went. When you lose something you don’t know where it is. He rests, at the feet of your mother.

  8. Yeah, am bawling…If that excerpt is a reflection of the rest of the eulogy, your Dad is a gifted writer and very strong to be able to write and READ that aloud.
    All I can say is your writing this shows your strength and Dandara being in a better place is such a comfort. I will now talk to my little brothers about their salvation, I won’t put it off any longer.
    Thank you for touching my life by sharing this.

    • Awwwww. Thanks for your kind words. Nothing matters more than where one ends up-eternally.

    • jackie
    • May 13th, 2011

    this has brought tears to my eyes. i can only imagine how hard it all was. may he rest in peace. i read ya blog but have never left a comment. now here i am, admiring your courage for sharing this. time will heal the wounds that your loss caused. pole sana

    • Hi Jackie. Thanks for visiting. Asante, every day God gives us the strength to carry on. That’s the only way to explain it.

    • lucie
    • July 28th, 2011

    I stumbled upon your blog and am all teary now my boss is just about to send me home since no matter how much he coarse me I wont tell him that am reading a blog.Anyway I emphasis with you I lost a dear friend when i lost my dad!
    My heart goes out to you!

    • Aww Lucie! I didn’t mean to put you in trouble with your boss. Hehehe. So sorry to hear about your Dad. Can’t imagine life without my Dad. My heart goes out to you too.

    • Willy
    • October 16th, 2011

    I stumbled on your blog a few days ago, read one post and immediately realized i would be back again so i bookmarked it. I’m deeply sorry about the loss of your brother and your mum. I have said a prayer for you, that God will always renew your strength everyday as you carry on without em. Be comforted. In all things God is good.

    • Violet
    • November 22nd, 2011

    R.I.P Dandara(PS i love his name)….My bruh from another mother…

    • Thanks for reading Vee. He was a fresh guy, no lie.

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