Writer: Dimakatso Lukhele
The 7th of April is fast approaching and I’m already feeling a wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained. When I feel like this, I know prayer helps and another remedy would be to put my pen to paper or in this case, fingers to keyboard. You see, the 7th of April is not just an ordinary day. From the day my best friend Mangese ‘Claire’ Buthelezi and I met back in varsity, we made this day our “friendship’ day because we were both born on the same day.
On the 16th of June 2014, Heaven got another angel, my friend Claire. She was more than a friend to me, she was like a sister. I still tear up like a little child every time I think of her. In fact, I’ve just realised that writing this blog post is not going to be easy. I know that almost everyone has lost someone, and that losing a parent or an aunt or a partner must be painful (I’ve lost my father and many others too) but losing the woman who taught you to be happy in tough times, convinced you it was OK to admit you’ve gained some weight, and made jokes about your ugly feet in front of the whole world is one painful experience. Claire’s death was the most shocking and painful thing I have ever gone through. A pain which I still don’t understand. Soon after she passed on, I couldn’t call her to tell her how mad I am about her leaving, about how I was feeling, because I would discuss these things with her.
Even when she was weak and going through the world’s most deepest pains, she would visit with a smile on her face and listen to whatever I had to say. She didn’t want to talk about her circumstances a lot, she wanted to focus on the bright and positive things of life. I had a beautiful friendship that I will cherish forever but I can’t deny the hole that has been left. I wake up and wish I could talk to her about how hard it is. But I can feel Jesus giving me the strength and reminding me of our love to carry on.
The last time we were together, I drove to Pretoria and as always, whenever I was in Pretoria she was the first to know. I went over to her place and she had wanted us to go watch a game of football between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs the next weekend but she suddenly got sick. This June will mark a year since Claire’s passing. And although the deep pain has altered to certain numbness, some days the grief paralyses me all over again. Claire will always be 26, the girl who loved clothes and looking good, who used to wash dishes after a fun and crazy night out (which I still don’t understand up to this day 🙂 ), who used to put up with me listening to Simphiwe Dana in her presence (our taste in music was sometimes different). What would she have been like at 30? Would we both have had our kids on the same day too (that would have been uber cool)? Would she still be into fun times and fashion? Would she have helped her little sister and nephew like she always wanted? Would I be the maid of honour at her wedding? Would she be the maid of honour at mine?
When someone close to you dies, everyone seems to understand. They want to hug you. They give you encouraging scriptures. They write you inspiring messages and they say things to you… “She’s in a better place”, “It’ll get better with time” “Celebrate her life and existence” etc. But I’ve realised that when dealing with death, whatever anyone says really doesn’t make sense. The pain is unbearable, distasteful and unpleasant. When you get these messages from your loved ones, the messages eventually stop coming in. Everyone starts to move on, but you. I’ve found it a little difficult to move on and I’m really thankful to God for the strength because I still don’t know how I could have dealt with all this without the strength from Jesus. Yes, sometimes it seems as if my grief only amplifies with time. Sometimes I would go to sleep thinking of her, dream about her, and then wake up only to be reminded that it had not been a dream. It had really happened, and she was gone.
I’m certain that a day will come when I won’t cry over her like I do now. But sometimes I’ll find myself listening to music and I’ll hear a song that we both loved by Rihanna “Life’s too short to be sittin’ round miserable, People gon’ talk whether you doing bad or good, yeah… Cheers to the freakin’ weekend, yeah-ah-ah-ah” and I’m once again singing along with her. And then I’m reminded that I am blessed; I have had my best friend for as long as I can remember.
I’m comforted by knowing that one day we will see each other again with Jesus by our side. I believe, mostly because I have to believe to keep standing, that Claire never doubted that she was my best friend, that I adored her, and that I would never have been half as awesome a person as I am without her influence. But I want to make sure that if I ever again lose someone, I can stand up under the weight of all the grief, knowing, at least that, that person never doubted my love. Even if it’s too late, there’s some comfort in knowing that I’ve learned a crucial lesson — about love, friendship, paying attention to what really matters, about letting petty disagreements go, about sharing my feelings. And also about washing dishes no matter what (lol).
I’ve also learnt that loss is survivable. It feels like suffocating, like drowning, like having something vital ripped out of your body without anaesthetic, but you live through it. Like many of us do, I had imagined loss. I had imagined what it would be like when I inevitably had to say good-bye to a loved one. But I had never imagined losing her.
I would like to dedicate this blog post to anyone who has lost a loved one to death. My advice to you is to never question God and to continue to show love to your loved ones. Remember that our time on earth is short, you have no clue when this ride will end. Never stop praying, stay present and live fearlessly.
” Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” – (Matthew 5:4 ASV)
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