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What to consider when going to meet someone you do not know so well…

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I walked into a coffee house yesterday with a friend. It was in the evening and there were several people in enjoying their drinks of choice. We sat in the table next to a gentle man and a lady. They were an arms-reach from our table. We ordered. We get engrossed into our discussion. After a while, the lady walks out. For a toilet break I think. She leaves her handbag on the table. Nothing unusual. After a short while, the guy stands and walks out. He leaves the handbag on the table. That is very unusual. It is a non written rule in my head that if I am having a meal or drink, I need to watch the belongings of my companion if they take a toilet break. I shouldn’t take a break when she or he is still away. unless there is a third part. The rule applies to the party too. Or I guessed. Wrong. especially for the scene unfolding. I tell my companion. It is strange that the guy walked out and left the ladies handbag. My statement was more suggestive though, I used the word girlfriend. My companion tells me the guy unzipped the handbag and picked a phone, stood and left. It shouldn’t ring a bell still. In any case,once in a while my husband tells me to put his wallet and phone in my bag, right? Wrong. The waitress comes and puts reserved notice on the table. The ladies handbag is still there. The lady comes back. Runs into the waitress and asks, where the guy went to. She says he just walked down. But little did we know he was not coming back. She comes and sits. Goes through her bag, then she casts a look across and asks if the guy took her phone. My companion answers yes. Then she goes, “Oh My God”.

Of course we inform the management (through the waitress). The waitress says there are many such cases. She also says the guy frequents there. Maybe with fresh bait every time. This brought back memories of what I used to be told when I was growing up on precautions to take. I am going to share a few tips I gathered a long the way in my journey of life:-

I do not drink alcohol, and probably one of the reasons why was for my own safety. Drinking to some extent reduces the rational capacity of a person. The level of loss is different. Others need only one glass of one, others need a whole crate of beer. I have never wanted to test my limits. Some say that you limit your alcohol consumption. I have learnt that , sometimes in some company this rule does not work. If it is a group outing, it is always easy to volunteer to be the designated driver, or the cab advisor when everyone else has since stopped being themselves. In the least you will ensure everyone is home safe and sound.

One of the safety tips I remember my brother ever mentioning to me way before I joined college was when you are having a drink with anyone, if you need to pee, finish your drink first. If you had not, order a fresh one when you get back. It may look unusual to those who you will be with but just in case your drink was spiked, you will be okay. This does not only apply to alcohol, but also to the teas, coffees we do with friends, prospective clients or customers, and even strangers on blind dates.

It is good to let someone know where you are. It is also good to let this person know at least one person you are with. We may assume we are in control of things, but stuff happens. Picture a guy who goes out for a drink with friends. He drinks later than them. His drink is spiked. He goes Missing in Action (MIA). Or those thieves who unleashes things that you breath and pass out. When someone has been keeping track of your movements it would be easy for them to, in the least know where to start looking for you or who was last with you and what happened when you parted ways. It may be strange but I try my level minimum to always let my spouse know where I am, who I am meeting, where. Even when he is not around, I still let him know.

It is also good to have at least one contact off head. This is where the back up phone mentioned in My Accident… My Lessons makes sense. This will make sure that when tragedy happens to you, even if your phone is dead or has been stolen and you cannot access your contacts list, you can contact one person, hopefully this person is the same as the one you had told where you are.

I also remember a friend of mine telling me never go out without extra cash, enough to cater for your food and drinks just in case the person you are meeting bails out on the bill. Make sure you also have enough money to get you home. This may come in handy when group outings go in a direction you did not anticipate and you need to flee them. You may not have to tell them you are leaving. Excusing yourself for a pee will give you time to walk out on company you do not want to be in discreetly.

In addition to all these, ladies, carry your handbag to wherever you are going in case you are taking a break from the company you are with. Unless that person is your spouse or fiance or your really bestest of friends.  In the least this should apply. If you go to the loo, go with it, if you want to go to the counter for an extra order, please don’t leave it, if you want to walk across the room and say hi to a long lost friend who just walked into the restaurant, that bag is not so heavy, pick it, walk with it. A lady,s bag has everything, from her friends spare keys to her identification documents. If that bag goes MIA can you survive a week without its contents? If not, please make it a part of you.

other advise gathered online include googling the person you are meeting, pepper spay, meeting is busy places, watch for disturbing behaviors and if your instincts say run, then just run.

I asked the girl if she knew the guy well. She she knew him but not so much. I hope in the least she gets her phone back. I also appreciate the restaurants that have CCTV, though I highly doubt they assist much. Maybe another caution should be to sit within camera range. Either way, hopefully this can stop someone from getting into the same pit.

 

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My Accident… My Lessons

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imagesThe date is 5th September. I am driving a long Nairobi Nakuru Highway. Am am almost at the Gilgil weigh bridge. I am anticipating traffic. There is almost always traffic here. It is getting to 9am. The highway is not so busy though. But then again, it is a Tuesday, it is not those days everyone is rushing to the village or rushing back to the CBD to live yet another week of the activities of 5am to 8pm in a bid to put bread on the table. Besides the usual once in a while crazy trucks speeding past, it is slow. I am the last in a queue of about five vehicles. 60KPH is my speed. Then suddenly, the slow night gets crazy as a speeding truck hits my car, at the rear, near the wheel. My wheel goes poof, I swerve into the truck, minimal impact, I was driving slowly anyway, but the impact still sends me off the road, I loose balance, try to steady the car, I veer across the road, finally when I could remember where my breaks were I stop the car. Breathe in and Out. I shout, everyone Ok? Passenger 1 next to me, yes; Passenger 2 at the back, yes. We are all good. The truck is long gone. I can only see the tail lights vanishing into the darkness. I exit the car, check the impact, one totally damaged wheel, and one flat tyre (reparablle. It lost the valve during the impact). We are going nowhere. The rule of the road says only one spare tyre. I have damaged 2. What to do? I Call my brother. He gives instructions. Call my husband, this calms me a bit. Now I can get into action. Passenger 1 gets help from her brothers. My brother assists me in getting the cops. Cops come and confirm accident, record damage. I call the insurance guy and he instructs me on what I need to do. No intervention to the damages if possible he says. And get police abstract. The brothers take the flat tyre for repair (We need to get out of these woods), someone (the only driver who stopped to see what kind of help we probably needed) said there were rhinos around. The tyre is repaired and we fix them. We test the car. It is still going nowhere. The damaged rear axle is making the car skid. We need to tow the car. The brothers assist us in getting tow services. Finally, the car, my two passengers and I are brought to Nairobi aboard the tow truck. Its 3am. We arrive in Nairobi. We drop the car at the insurance inspection centre. Some guards on patrol offer us a ride (paid) to Passenger 1s home. We dropped Passenger 2 in Kinoo. They can’t drop me home they need to get to work. Its 5am though so I get dropped off at a bus stop. I take a matatu home. Its 6am. I finally get home. Safe. Tired but safe. Glory be to God. I need to get back to the police station to collect the abstract, but first I need some sleep.

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This could be a story of any accident victim on our roads. The stories change from person to person. The essence of this is not for the story itself but my lessons from my long night.

 

  1. Strive to be good Samaritans: – I know that our roads have rogues and cons and helping a stranded motorist, especially at night, is unimaginable. I don’t even know if I can stop to assist a stranded motorist or passenger now, especially in those places that chain messages always point out. But I know that there are good Samaritans out there. The truck driver who saw us by the road side and stopped, I don’t know him, but he stopped. It’s just that what we needed was beyond him. There are those who saw us veering off the road, crossing the road and stopping. They drove on. I don’t blame them. I probably would have done the same. I pray that the scary stories of cons will not deter us from doing good when those one in a million instances comes.
  2. Kindness abounds: – The two gentlemen who helped us that night, I owe them a lot. The insurance guy stayed awake with us. He picked my calls even at 4am. I pick my calls very selectively after 6pm. But he did. He did not owe me anything. His job did not require him to do that. But out of the goodness of his heart he did it. I cannot pay them back the kindness. At least not to them. Maybe someone else will benefit in the payback. May we strive to be kind.
  3. God watches over His children: – I drove to wherever I was going alone. But on my way back I had two passengers. I had company that night. I was not alone. It is because of them that the car could be repaired. It is because of them I could brave the night with the imaginary rhinos. It is because of them that I was probably brave to keep acting. I did not have control of many things that night, but God brought made sure we were safe. A lot could have happened (the mind gets creative here), but God was in control
  4. Always have a backup phone:- There are many things that are put in survival manuals. Matchboxes, pocket knives, blankets, flashlight, flares among others. Add to that list a backup phone. A phone that can take night pictures, even bad ones, but has good battery life. Smart phones die very fast. Mine had died an hour earlier. A mid the confusion I had forgotten about it, but it came in handy.
  5. Forget the incident, remember the lessons: – It is traumatizing to go through some stuff. Especially ones that allow your mind to wander. Get traumatized. Cry. Scream. Get frustrated. Yell at someone. Sigh. But after all the emotions, let your mind derive lessons from the experiences that are life. In the long run, life is a series of events. What hurts is the stories we attach to those events. Hurt a bit, but learn from the events. And let those events make you a braver happier person. Find a reason to be thankful. There are always reasons to be grateful. May it rain, we cannot stop that from happening, but may we never forget to sing and dance in the rain.
  6. If tomorrow Never Comes:- We all have heard of the best regrets one makes on their death bed. You forget to live when you are alive. You forget to live because someone hurt you five years ago. You forget to live because you are afraid of the consequences of your decisions today. You forget to live because you are afraid of what people say. You just survive, because you are living fear. You have one life. Live it well. Live it in the best possible way you know how. Live it to fulfill the person you  are. Live it to the purpose you were created. discover that purpose and live life. If tomorrow never comes, then there will be no regrets because you lived to the best of your capacity, you did the best you could in what was entitled to you, you lived a purposeful life, but more so you were happy and you were not afraid.

Article 46: Accidents VS Substance-A new Hope for Kenya

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Accidents vs Substance…, The first time I wrote this, I was in a  sole searching mission. But in the wake of Kenyan Election, Election Petition and call for a re run, I believe I need to remind call us to pause for a moment and do some self evaluation on why we are doing what we are doing, why we are supporting who we support, why we are crying foul or celebrating.

“There are two aspects of each and every thing on this world, living or non living, the accidents and the substance. Accidents are those parts of us that we can live without, the things that appertain to us, not by intention or necessity, a nonessential property or quality of an entity or circumstance; for instance, a hand, a leg, an eye, a kidney, the language we speak, the country we were born in, our culture, our names, among others. Substance is a fundamental or characteristic part or quality, that which defines us, that which makes us us, that which makes timber timber, or a cow a cow, without which it would be a carcass and we would be corpses. That which when we lose we are baptized other names instantly, I cease being Judy, Caroline, Duncan or Eric, we become “The late” or “Marehemu”. It is the same principle that William Shakespeare applied when he wrote a “Rose by any other name would smell as sweet” in Romeo and Juliet.

I have asked myself severally why we keep voting the way we vote, and now that we have a chance to vote our presidency once more if we will vote the same way. If the name Uhuru and the tribe Kikuyu was removed from him, and we made him nameless, or replaced the name with Ekwueme, and his running mate we called him Agwoturumbe; then attached their CVs and their leadership history, the corruption scandals bedeviling their leadership regime, their own personal scandals, would we still vote them in? Would we still be willing to shed some blood, and lose our numerous friendships because we are their staunch supporters? If we removed their accidents, would their substance suffice?

If we assume that Raila was called Emenike and his running mate Elechi, would they still arouse the emotions they are? Would we still fight wars for them? If their accidents were removed, would we still be supporting them, regardless of their history?

Those of us who were celebrating the presidential win, was it because they represent the values we want in a Kenyan leadership or was it solely because of the accidents they have? If we were to swap Uhuru with Raila, complete personality swap, assume that they posses whatever the other party does, would it be the same, If Raila had been head of state for five years, with the track record present, he campaigns as Uhuru did, etc,  would things remain the same, or we would recoil at our choices? Those of us who were disappointed, was it because of Rail’s accidents or because of the values that he would have introduced to the leadership of this country, or the hope that he presented for the nation? Did we go to the streets because he is Raila or because he is the kind of leader that this nation wants at this point but seemingly been denied by the structural failures of our systems? Does he present hope for our nation as a leader or it is just the luoness in him that is irking us?

Leadership can be defined s a process whereby an individual effectively and ethically influences a group of individuals to achieve a common worthwhile goal. This leadership, as per the Catholic church, must be guided by and be consistent with Religious doctrinal teachings. It lays importance on the following values: Solidarity, Family, Dignity of human life, Option for the poor, Dignity of work and rights of workers and Care for God’s creation. The bible has many verses on leadership, but I will just highlight a few, “It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness(Proverbs 16:12)”; “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9)” “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant(Mathew 20-26)”, “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others(Philippians 2:4)”,”Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2)”, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you (John 13:17)”, among many other examples. What are we looking for really? An upright leader of good moral standings, a leader who is impartial, a humble leader, a leader who looks out for the interest of others, a person faithful to his or her family, self controlled respectable and hospitable, a servant leader. 

We lay so much importance to our accidents; especially in our Kenyan political arena we forget what really counts when we are looking for leadership. The language we speak is so important we are willing to fight every electioneering year since the dawn of Multiparty elections in 1992. We are so attached that we can never define our substance, neither can we define the substance of the leadership we seek.

All of us will go or have gone for interviews. What leadership values do employers seek? Assuming we were CEOs and their CVs were dropped on our in-trays, if we would not employ any of them for whatever short comings, then we are cheating ourselves twice by electing them as our leaders.

We the electorate are the CEOs and we are hiring. What are the leadership values that we are looking for as a nation? Their CVs public or otherwise are in our in-trays now. We have been given a second chance to interview them and appoint the president a new. What do we want? Is it integrity? Is it Accountability? Honesty? Commitment? Dedication to electorate? Transparency? Impartiality? Confidence? Passion? Innovation? Even as we seek to vote the lesser evil (which is ridiculous) what criteria are we using to evaluate? Accidents or Substance?

We have another chance, to interrogate ourselves more than the we need to interrogate the persons vying for presidency, know what we really want, then express that desire in the ballot.

 

One year on…

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1477930069246It has been a year since she was born! Time does fly; literally. It has also been a year and a month since my dad passed away. While this article features her, Angelica, it is not about her. It is my thank you note to all who have been with me, us for the last one year plus the months I was expecting.

I consider her my strength because of many things. She was conceived at a time when my dad was in his last stages of cancer wars, hospitalized most of the time. It was a challenge not to be depressed, but had to stay sane for her. She brought her own challenges during pregnancy. I had crazy pelvic pains, I was dizzy most of the time, and I could barely stay on my feet for a couple of minutes. I could not travel on my own, I had to request for company any time I needed to go visit my dad in hospital; I even had to get someone to accompany me to do her shopping. My dad passed away when I was 7 and a half months pregnant.  It was rough but she gave me reasons to stay strong. She came five weeks after. She was born when I had not even started mourning his death. How could I mourn?

Amid all this, there were angels who kept me company. Those who traveled with me when I needed to go and see my dad, those who accompanied me when I needed to go to town and do the ordinary things like buy shoes, those who called to check on me, those who prayed with me and for me when I couldn’t pray, those who gave me an intention to pray for when I did not have any, (I don’t know how many times I asked myself what to pray for), the colleagues who exempted me from responsibilities, those who sent me cash to boost whatever we had when the bills were crazy, those who shared a smile, when I had no reason to smile, those who reminded me that there was a reason to be grateful, there always is a reason to be grateful, those who gave me hugs, those who cried literally with me when it was too much to hold inside, those who came to be with us in dads final journey. There is a friend of mine who took leave to come and stay with me the whole week I was home for the funeral arrangements and funeral itself. I appreciate you. You don’t know how much difference you made. By your being, by your presence, by your prayers, I had the energy to sing and dance in the rain.

If you are going through the same, expectant and having it rough, look for reasons to be happy, to smile, no matter how elusive they may seem. Find a reason to fight for that baby you are carrying, find strength in knowing that there is someone literally walking with you, every day and every night. Let the child hug you from within and give you strength to stay sane. Let the child in you, every time they kick, remind you that smiling amid every hardship is possible. If you have a patient, cancer or otherwise, taking care of them personally or someone else is, I can relate to your pain, I can relate with your desperation, I can relate with your hopelessness, I can relate with your looking at God and asking why oh why, I can relate with broke, I can relate with your tears, I can relate with that smile of strength when you are screaming inside, I can relate with the tears you fight back in public, I can relate with that urge to close yourself in and shut the world out. Reach out for help, accept any that is offered. It is in doing so that you allow those who would want to be with you on this journey to actually know how they can help. I have learnt that sometimes people don’t really know what to do to those going through tough times but when you reach out they get a sense of direction. Don’t feel bad if the help from the obvious from your circles is not forthcoming, they could be slaying their own dragons too; accept help from the unexpected sources, these are the angels God has sent to walk with you; avoid traumatizing yourself physically and emotionally. If you would throw yourself and roll when morning, then hold yourself for just one second and hit the pillow instead. Cry if you must, call unto God, and tell Him your hopelessness, but pray. Watching someone you love go down that road, a road of knowledge that they will be gone eventually and knowing that you cannot do anything about it is hard, but there’s something you can do. Pray for that person, that God may prepare their souls for their eventual encounter, that when he eventually dies, he will die in the arms of Christ. There is this prayer that we do not think about often as Catholics,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nakutoleeni moyo na roho na uzima wangu,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nijulieni saa ya kuszimia roho yangu,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nifanyizieni nife mikononi mwenu

You can do this on their behalf. “Ajaliwe kifo chema”. Is it crazy to pray for the salvation of the dying, no! We pray that when they die, their lives will then be truly transformed because, as Christians we believe in death life in not ended, it is changed. Are we wishing them death when we pray for their moment of death, no, we are praying so that they may reconcile themselves with their maker, who loved them before they came to this world, that when they are gone, they may go to He who loved them the most when they lived here on earth and they will be in a state of Grace to see Him face to face.

If you know anyone going through some tough times, someone who has a cancer patient, or any patient all together, or someone who is mourning, someone who has lost hope in themselves, and the world, someone who believes there world has come to an end, strive to be there for them in any way. Extend a shoulder, a smile, a moment of your time, a prayer (lots of prayers), a word of encouragement, a pent-up-energy-release moment, send them some money even without them asking, smile at them, walk with them when they need you, and be kind, offer to do something they need to do. There is a tendency for most people to shut the world out when they are in this state. If they let you in, be the strength they need to walk out of the dark tunnel in a single piece.

I always say that we were not created alone in this world for a reason. As I commemorate my dad’s memorial, I also celebrate my baby’s birthday. I thank God for everything. But more so, for those who walk this life with me, with us, me and mine. We are blessed to have you in our lives. Your contribution to who we have become, and who we will become make us forever indebted.

Happy Birthday Angelica…

It is also the feast day of St. Rose of Lima, Happy feast day my Sister Rose…

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Roho ya muumini Marehemu Yohane, apate rehema kwa Mungu, Apumzike kwa Amani, Amina.

 

Teaching by Witnessing

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aOn 13th May 2017 we had a recollection organized by the Jomo Kenyatta University – Catholic Community Alumni Association (JKUAT CATCOM ALUMNI). It is one of the events that the group organizes and members participate in. Other activities being: a charity event; an annual planning meeting and an annual Mass at JKUAT main campus.

This year’s recollection was special, not only because it has been a while since we were together as a group, but also because it was facilitated by an alumnus of JKUAT CATCOM. Many of us remember him singing tenor in the CATCOM Choir, getting stressed with assignments and exams like the rest of us, as an organizing secretary of CATCOM, or even as the fastest man during social day. It was fascinating to watch him on the other end facilitating a recollection, celebrating mass. It was seeing him in a new dimension.

Whatever he taught was also a new dimension to what we are used to, where as a disciple, we are supposed to preach through more than our words. Many are the times we fail to do that because we preach one thing and do something else. He encouraged us to teach by witnessing. An action based kind of preaching Christ. The online dictionary gives the definition of witnessing as: to give or serve as evidence of or testify to. We are called to live life as an evidence of Christ in us, to be a living testimony of Christ in our lives.

How do we do that?

In Mathew 28:16-20, Christ gives us a command, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.  He authorizes all whom he have called for himself to go and make disciples. In Acts 1:8, we are told, we will be witnesses of God. In the famous walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:16-35), after resurrection, Christ exemplifies what teaching by witnessing is all about in the following ways:-

Jesus went with them: – We must walk with those we are witnessing to. We must go where the flock is. “If we are to be good shepherds, we must smell like sheep.” – Pope Francis. We must live in such a way that those we are witnessing to recognizes us as followers of Christ. The famous statement preaching water and drinking wine does apply. We must live according to Christ’s teaching and in this way, we will be preaching Christ with our actions. We however may not be recognized by our own, just like the disciples failed to recognize Christ on the walk to Emmaus. This could be due to sadness in their hearts due to whatever experiences they are going through just like Christ’s disciples were sad because He was dead. There could be detachment between “Us and Them”, meaning just because we know Christ, we start living in utopia and detach ourselves form the realities of their daily emotions that affect who they are and what they believe in, we become strangers to them. There could be because of hopelessness and doubt, just like the disciples doubted the resurrection even after the women shared the good news of the resurrection and were hopeless because He whom they believed will “save” them from the Roman oppression was no more.

Jesus was patient with them: – Jesus walked with them the whole journey. He not only walked and listened to their version of what had happened in Jerusalem, but also explained to them the scripture. Not just a single verse expounded, he explained from the old and new testament, the first to the last prophets and how Christ fit in in the whole picture.  He listened to their foolishness, and filled it with knowledge. How patient are we when our Christianity is challenged by doubt. How knowledgeable are we on the gospel of Christ. How willing are we to sit and explain it to those we encounter, like explaining the concept of lightning and thunder to a three year old.

Jesus Nurtured a strong Bond: – Christ’s journey with the two disciples was a great encounter. He understood their weaknesses. He taught them patiently, in a language they could understand what salvation was. He made himself part of them, of their weak selves. However much he did not participate in their foolishness, they felt understood. They felt they belonged. They felt identified and appreciated. They felt wanted. They felt a part of this stranger who did not rebuke them for being foolish but accepted that they needed a little more knowledge so they could understand. They felt appreciated even in their weakness. How many times do we seek to be appreciated for who we are? How often do we identify ourselves with those who we deem unknowledgeable? How many times do we flee from those who are really in need just because we do not want to be associated with them? How many times do we alienate those we deem different from us? We are called to nurture strong bonds with those we encounter, those who need to encounter Christ through us. We are called to “Make Disciples, before we can teach or baptize them”. They can only become disciples if they feel appreciated, not condemned for who they are.

In Acts 2:22 & 32; we are called to witness the risen Christ. We are called to be the living faith amongst the lay Christians. We are called to be the light of the world, not the light in the world. We are called to live such that in our absence, the light we lit will still shine in those we encountered while we lived. We are called to give who we are not to give what we have. We need to give ourselves to those we are witnessing to because giving ourselves is an act of love. We are called to, like St Francis of Assisi “preach the word always, but only use words when necessary”. The modern man listens more to witness more than to teachers…

An example is given of St. John Marie Vianney who despite his deficiencies in formal studies, he witnessed Christ as a great confessor who touched many souls beyond his parish and indeed his country.

Lay Christians who witness Christ with their lives do as much evangelization as ordained ministers. When we understand that we were created for a purpose then we live a fulfilling life and influence all those around us positively. Let us also remember to pray for others.

Above all “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …” (1st Peter 3:15).

 

 

Finding Myself; Finding Peace when he is gone…

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Candle

When someone loses a beloved one, it is very easy for us to call and say sorry, or type RIP in their social media, or call and give a word of encouragement. I know I have done it. One of my favorite quotes has been “They are not dead those who still live in the hearts of the living”. My encouraging words have been “May you find joy in appreciating that they lived, than mourn that they are gone.” Its been a month since my dad breathed his last. It’s been almost two years of him living with cancer, and though I find solace in knowing that he is in no more pain, accepting and following my own advice has not been easy. There is knowledge that he will be gone. Nothing prepares you for the reality that he is gone. That those we love are gone.

While I come to terms, while I cry and let my shower wash my tears, I learn to encourage myself, to walk the path of knowing that phone number will never be answered by the same voice, to see pictures on the wall are our memoirs, the advice he ever gave is all I have, the moments shared of love are all I hold on to, and I cry some more because its saying good bye every morning to the man who was so present in our lives.

It’s been a month of total loss. I am probably still a mess even if I smile at you. I may come to your office and will probably cry a bucket. Maybe more than a month, because since that diagnosis, in your head you know the eventuality. But isn’t death a reality we live with everyday?As I sit back and reflect, I choose today not to mourn, but to be thankful.

28To be thankful to God for who he was to us. A man who loved his family, with a big bias to his daughters, of which he had many. He literally fought fights for his daughters. I remember some random guy who decided to abuse my sister with those vulgar unmentionable words. One day he was summoned and given a lecture of his life. Well let’s say it never happened again. I choose to thank God for the guy who not only instilled hard work as a character trait in us, but was hardworking himself. He was a pre-colonial man who never went to school, but he worked his way up the ladder as a professional driver for the public service, educated his children, built homes for the two families he had, supervised development projects at home and his dynamism and embrace of technology was such that by the time of his death could use a smart phone. He achieved much, am nowhere close to what he achieved. Hope someday I will. I choose to thank God for the sacrifices he made for us his family, his children. I choose to thank God for the discipline he instilled in us, for the advice he offered, for the shoulder we depended on especially at our weakest. I choose to thank God for the privilege of the moments of success and failure that we shared. For the support that he gave so we may live our dreams, for the tough love- he never shied away from telling you are making a stupid decision that will land you nowhere-, for the woman I am, for the relationships that we have with my sibling which he directly and indirectly contributed, for everything I learned from him, especially on friendships and how to live and interact with people- he believed in respecting everyone we encounter no matter how unworthy we thought of them (if that even makes sense) because there was something to learn from everyone. He was an exceptional planner who went for nothing less than excellence in what he organized, from when and how to pay for whose fees, which head teacher needs to be spoken to, which applications need to be proof read, which child is weak in which subject and what needs to be done, which one needs disciplining and how to discipline, which celebrations, who to hire, when to hire, who to speak and many more. He planned everything, to his grave. He left instructions on what to be done when he died. We only executed his plans at his death. He was a dad. I am not writing this because he was an angel. He was human. I am writing so that someday, my children who never met him will learn a few things from him. Hopefully they will ask questions about this grandfather who will forever indirectly influence the people they become.

I choose to appreciate those who traveled with me in the low moments. I give thanks to God because in all that we went through, we never lacked, materially, emotionally, spiritually. You and you and you, who prayed, who sent contributions, who traveled with me to see him, who came to cry with me, my spouse, my family,  my in-laws, my sisters and bffs, my godchildren, our God Parents, colleagues, priests, everyone. God knows you supported us and He will abundantly reward you. I still need you. We all still need each other.

FILE18592While I still walk this path of finding peace in his absence, it is easier to live with these memories. I will still cry every once in a while. However, I pray the peace of Christ that has been with us continue to be with us. May the knowledge that for him life is changed not ended console me. May I find peace in knowing he is in peace, he is not in pain anymore. He rests, totally. In death his face was at peace. His legacy lives in us, his candle burns in our lives, his influence is so much in us, his love for us we will always cherish. In his absence he lives because, they are not really dead those who still live in the hearts of the living. Fare thee well.

“Raha ya milele umpe, Eh Bwana, na mwanga wa milele umwangazie, Apumzike kwa amani- Amina”.

5 things to remember when your child gets a seizure/ Convulses

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Child

Mom monitoring a seizure in a child

The first time I heard of Epilepsy, was in a first aid class I helped organize for a group of pro-life students in 2003 when I was in college. And of course it rarely concerns you until it hits home… You will read a lot of the seizures, the types, and one thing you will realize is, most common child seizures are caused by fever. Of course there are those that just happen, and doctors brand them atypical, but in simple terms, that is just epilepsy. Your child has a seizure whose cause cannot be explained, then they have epilepsy. It is a big and scary word. And traumatizing. But it is actually scarier to watch your child convulse. Having witnessed 2 in a span of 6 months, I am no expert, but I have a tip or two to share if you ever find yourself in my shoes. This may not be limited to children, but if you ever be in a place where one is having a seizure, the procedure of what you need to do more or less remains the same.

A typical -grand mal- seizure more or less takes place in the same way or follows the same pattern. The casualty stretches out, goes rigid and falls, then jerking movements, then often but not always grinding of teeth, then sleep. Each phase takes different lenth of time. One seizure may not necessarily take as long s the one before, or one stage may take longer or shorter time than the previous one. Here is waht you do:-

  1. Thou shall not panic:- As a parent watching your child going through all that , the first instinct is, scream, pick up the child and run to hospital. I did that and when I got to hospital, I was asked questions I could not answer. So as a parent or observer, it is your time to be most sane. Everything that you are going to observe in the next few seconds to a few minutes counts in terms of what diagnosis and tests will be given to your child. Don’t panic, no matter how hard it sounds.
  2. Get a soft landing:- By this I mean, remove the danger from the casualty or remove the casualty from danger, whichever is easier. If it is a child, place them on a soft bed or couch or put something soft under them. This will ensure that when they jerk they do not injure themselves further. If the casualty is an adult, break the fall. Hold them as they fall, ensure the ground around them is free of stones, sharp object etc. Do not try to wedge the child’s mouth open or place an object between the teeth, and do not attempt to restrain movements (seizurekids.com). This should also apply to adults as well.
  3. Take note of what happens while the person is in the fit:- One thing you will sure be asked when you get to hospital is “Describe the seizure”. How will you describe if you did not observe? Take note of the times of each phase. How long did the casualty stretch or was stiff, how long did the jerking movements take, how were the jerks, just the hands or both hands and feet, how long did they sleep immediately after the seizure? Most importantly, check for fever.
  4. When they fall asleep,now do what you were to do in the panic state:- After seizure, the casualty sleeps. Now you can panic. Run to your room, get your wallet and baby bag, call a cab, run out of the door and call the neighbor. Get to hospital. Whatever you do, make sure you get you child to hospital especially if it is the first seizure. As soon as possible. After all the 3 above are done. If it is a subsequent one, you probably already have a neurologist, call them, inform them, schedule a check up with them.
  5. Be ready for the checks:- While you are riding to hospital, prepare yourself psychologically for the check ups. Once you get to the hospital, you will answer on what you noted on the above. Was the child on medication, remember the names of the medication he was on. Is there a history of epilepsy in your family? If it is the first convulsion, and there was no fever, and the above checks out as okay according to the doctor seeing you, they will do a lot of blood checks. They check for infections, blood sugar among many other things. If that comes out negative, they will do a head scan to check for trauma (read injuries to the head). They will actually tell you to hold the child as he goes into that machine. Its a tough journey. If that comes out normal, they will admit the child and monitor. when they rule out the possibility of a second seizure, you will be advised to go home and of course return if a second seizure does occur for a brain activity test called EEG. After this they will put the child on medication until their 6th birthday.

I am not writing this as a medic.Just as a parent trying to help a another parent who is going to go through the same or going through the same. It may sound tough that you have to act and seem like you have no feelings for your child, but the information you relay to the doctor is so crucial to your child’s well being and diagnosis. Trust God to see you through the desperate times, be strong for your child and be there for them when they do not seem to be fathoming what is happening in their tender lives. Perhaps my next big challenge next will be when he goes to school. I am not afraid, it is well in Christ. It always is…

Finally, you will realize I have used the word casualty when describing what you need to do. It is not because they cease to be your child when it happens, but because you must disassociate yourself with the mushy feelings of motherhood, you must choose to act as opposed to weep or scream, you must choose to be sane as opposed to emotional. Mushiness may cloud your judgment. Panic will prevent you from noting what needs to be noted. Detaching yourself may work, if only for that short while when your sanity is so called for.

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