Death is not a stranger to me. I'm not immune to the sadness it brings, but I am not overwhelmed with the sorrow. Normally, the deaths of those I love are staggered out but in April 2007 I lost two wonderful friends. For some reason, after their deaths I put away the manuscript I was working on. My words crumpled up and died. This blog has brought some life to my words, but I think they are handicapped. They limp pathetically along my screen. Sometimes a word will look up with a lively grin, but then I see it slide back into a stilted stride next to the rest of its lifeless companions.
What silenced my words? As I mentioned earlier- the death of two dear friends. One friend was snatched away suddenly and without warning. Lily Ashley was the co-director of Kinderparadise in Accra, Ghana. She was preparing for a trip to the US with her sons. I met her on April 6th and we had a great time together. We laughed, talked and finally I hugged her and said, "Good bye, I'll see you Sunday!" Little did I know that on April 7th- she would be killed in a horrible motor car accident returning from Pram Pram on the Tema Motorway.
Daniel and I received the phone call telling us she was at the Military Hospital. We rushed there to find out she was already dead. If I didn't look at the horrible gash on her forehead, I would have thought she was simply asleep. The next day was Easter Sunday, my husband had to get up and tell the congregation their beloved friend, Lily Ashley, was dead. This is where the reality of real faith sets in- do we let circumstances determine how we react, or do we act with the strength and the power of God.
April 24th I had to rush my friend Haruna to the hospital. He developed malaria when no one was around and now it had become cerebral malaria. Someone rushed him into Accra, where they knew I was and I rushed him first to one hospital and then to Korle-bu. Oh, how I could not stand Korle bu- it reminded me of Milli's death- it reminded me of too many people's sickness and sadness. I was thrust back into the bowels of the hospital.
Just to get a bed was a miracle. They wanted to turn us away, in fact another patient died in the taxi while her son attempted to get her a bed. Thankfully, Haruna got a bed. The man across the aisle could not lay down without choking. His frail wife allowed him to sit up and lean against her. She looked as though she would collapse, so I offered to let him lean against me. I made sure Haruna was resting and then I slowly changed places with the man's wife. She sank down into a chair and sighed. I chatted with her softly, asking her questions as she rested. A low rumbling in her husband's throat interrupted our conversation. She jumped up and began to wail. The nurse told her he was gone; she already knew.
I went back to sit next to Haruna's bed. "Mama Connie, I hear pain in my waist."..."Mama Connie, please massage my back."...."Mama Connie help me to use the toilet."... "Mama Connie, I cannot see"...and on and on it went for 6 days. Then on the 6th day it was, "Mama Connie, will I be alright?"
"Haruna, whether you live or die, you will be fine."
"Mama Connie, will my mother come in time?"
His mother was coming from the North, she managed to arrive on Sunday. He said, "Mama, can you forgive me?"
"Why must I forgive you son?"
"Because I promised to take care of my brothers and sisters, but now I must leave you."
"Haruna, I do not need to forgive you; you have been a good son."
He smiled weakly and breathed his last breath. There was no more need to be at the hospital. I helped with the funeral arrangements. Lily and Haruna were buried a day apart. Life went on, as it always does; only this time my words were gone. I wait patiently for the day my words will return.