The 21st of September: Many people remember it for the West-gate mall attack in Nairobi, westlands area. Many will remember it for the rest of their lives because of how it has shaped them. Others are still at the moment trying to rebuild themselves after the attack scared them. The wounds will heal. Friends will be a salve, that makes the pain bearable, but eventually it is the individual who must eventually come to terms with what happened and when it gets to a point where they can smile when they remember it, they will finally say I am healed. I have finally moved on.  Well, for one Agatha, she remembers 21st September as the day she faced the knife in an over 10 hour brain surgery to remove an aneurysm that doctors discovered during the surgery that it had ruptured.

According to the National Heart, Lung and blood institute, an aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your body. Arteries have thick walls to withstand normal blood pressure. However, certain medical problems, genetic conditions, and trauma can damage or injure artery walls. The force of blood pushing against the weakened or injured walls can cause an aneurysm. An aneurysm can grow large and rupture (burst) or dissect. A rupture causes dangerous bleeding inside the body. A dissection is a split in one or more layers of the artery wall. The split causes bleeding into and along the layers of the artery wall. Post surgery, my friend’s life has been an alternate of home-hospital affair. The intent of this article is not a medical history of Agatha, but what I have learnt from her since the first interaction.

Make it count: – Agatha spends quite a number of days per year in a hospital bed and many others on bed rest recovering, but trust me when she is out of that bed; she lives life to the fullest. She does not making it count by doing the selfish things we may envision her doing, like clubbing, treating herself to luxury stuff and anything along that line. She makes it count by being there for those whom she loves. She will go to extreme sacrifices to be there for you. She will spend her last dime coming to see you when you need her. She will mourn with you, she will laugh with you, she will listen to you, she will cry with you, she will understand when you do something foolish, she will uplift you when you are low, and she will treat you when you accomplish something special, she will make it count for you.. She will not only make it count for others, but for herself too. She will go to Timbuktu if she wants to, she will do a course if she is convinced she has to and it is making her a better person, she will drive to wherever for a retreat just to rejuvenate her spirit. She makes every second count. Agatha has taught me to go for my dreams. She has taught me that the moment is now to do all that I would want to do. She has taught me to dream and go for those dreams no matter how ridiculous they sound. She has taught me to make every second count; not only for myself, but for those I call dear. She has shown me the joys of being there for others, not because they will be there for you but because it is good to be there. She has shown me how to share in another’s pain, how to pray for those who we consider very difficult to pray for and more so how never to give up on those we love, especially when we feel that they are doing wrong. She has taught me to surrender those we love to God because; God loves all His children without favor.

Be kind: – She is a lady who believes in sharing. But more so she believes in giving. She reminds me of the lady in the gospel who gave her all- two copper coins- during an offering where Jesus was in attendance. I remember going to a harambee with her and well, I know her finances to the extent she allows me to and she was going through one of the very tough times, but she contributed more than most of us. She is selfless, maybe the most selfless person I have met in a long time. I don’t come anything close to her when it comes to sharing myself and what I have, but through my friend I have learnt the joys of giving. It doesn’t matter if you end up being less of yourself when you give, or that which you give is taken for granted, what matters is you were able to quench the thirst of another child of God when that soul was thirsty. Did the soul appreciate? It doesn’t matter, what matters is you were there and you did what you were meant to.

Embrace suffering: – I once visited her in a hospital bed and she tells me; “you know, we are all created for a purpose, and mine is to be in this hospital bed, and yours is to pray for me, so make sure you are doing that.” Well, I don’t know if it’s true that there are people who were created to suffer, but for the hardships that she has gone through, she has taken it in good stride. She has taught me to smile through tears because every time you visit her she will always have a smile on her face. Never have I seen her cry because she is in pain. She always believes that it all comes to an end, and it can only get better, and every milestone she makes is a glorification of the name of God. This reminds me of a phrase I heard from a priest friend of mine that if Christ tells you to jump, don’t ask why, but how high and believe that he will carry you through the consequences of that jump. Suffering may make us question God many times. I have questioned God on why some things have to happen to me. Through my friend I have learnt to look for the message from God behind the veil of suffering, and more so to smile through the tears.

Be a friend of Christ: – I have not lived a long life, but I have not found anyone with so much passion for Christ. In this passion grows the passion to please the most high, Our Heavenly Daddy. She has so much passion for this, she reads so much, and she draws so much from her reading that whenever she is challenged, she will have a quote or two from the scripture or write up from one of the saints where she can draw inspiration from. From this also comes her passion for Chastity and purity and respect for human life. I want to believe that it is this friendship with Christ that keeps her smiling through her most tough times. She has taught me how to create time on my busy schedule to be with Christ, even if it is just for a minute. She believes in “saying hello to Christ” whenever possible. She believes in being in the presence of Christ as much as possible. She has taught me the essence of prayer, she wakes up at wee hours of the night to pray her rosary, she goes for adoration, she goes for mass daily when possible, and she works daily to ensure a day does not end without her setting a few minutes to have an intimate moment with Christ. She is a joy to listen to when she is talking about how much Christ loves her. She will draw you into that feeling and you will literally feel it with her. I can confidently say that through her, I have learnt to appreciate this abundant love of Christ in a very human sense.

As she celebrates nine years post craniotomy, I thank God for the times I have known her. She is a blessing to those who have had the privilege of encountering her; she is a blessing to me. She inspires me to be better every day. To you my beloved friend, I wish you a long life, so that through you people may encounter Christ, through you people may learn the true meaning of love, and through you people may be inspired to suffer gracefully, may you keep being a blessing, but more so, may God keep carrying you from glory to glory so that through you His name is glorified. Thank you God for my friend who has taught me so much about life on earth and life divine.