Gone But Not Forgotten: Tribute To The Late Old Lady Who Didn’t Know Me

My memory of you is on your funeral. I saw a picture of you (well, Y has shown me many). The one they carried at your funeral. It sat proudly on the coffin. I remember you by that picture. And the stories that Y has told me about you. Lots of stories. You were the wisest woman Y told me. You were loving and very smart. You were strong and hardworking. You were kind and a woman of God. You were a mother figure to him. But you broke his heart by your passing. I can’t imagine any loss more crushing than yours.

The day you passed, I remember it vividly like it was yesterday. We were in Gisenyi (good old days) when P called Y and told him to come home. But Y being the stubborn guy he is, asked why he was being called home. Then P told him about your demise. And his world went dark. The hours that followed were filled with tears. Not knowing what to do (Do I hold him in my arms? Hug him? I gave him a tissue though), nor how to react to that (I’d never seen Y in such terrible pain) the one thing I could do was to make sure he got home safe as he might not have been thinking straight since he was grieving over your death.

Your home was filled with the anguish felt by your loved ones and whispers of your life and imminent death (because no matter how much preparation and how ready one thinks they are for the death of a loved one, it truly stings when they actually pass and you realize that you can never be ready for the blow). Your passing called attention to the fragility of life. It was another awakening that one could slip away in an instant. That the 3 minutes passed could be the last. That the next minute or hour or even tomorrow is not promised. That death could arrive this same morning which has every hour filled in advance. I may forget it on a regular basis but it slips into my mind at times, when I board a motorbike or while crossing a street or when someone passes away. I’m mindful of how quickly life can be taken away.

Your funeral services were heartbreaking but beautiful. The attendance spoke volumes about the impact you had on every one present. They all knew you in different ways and had their own special memories. Memories created that will last a lifetime. Several eulogies were given at your funeral. Beautifully written eulogies which gave us a wonderful image of a vibrant loving woman you were. A woman who fully lived her life. A lovely service it was.

I won’t say there is not a day that has passed without me thinking about you, that would be an overstatement. But there are times I find myself wondering what it would have been meeting you in-person. On those days, I see your picture. A picture of you that has stayed ingrained in my mind. That picture on which you’re smiling. A picture that portrays the happy woman you were. It feels like I’ve known you for ages. The people you never met (like me) know you through stories. Stories that your loved ones readily recount. So your legendary lives on. Whenever I think of you, it’s that picture that comes to my mind.

There were days I wished you were there, like when Y said he misses you. I thought about how unconditionally a grandma’s (read: your) love is and imagined how lucky he was to have you as his grandma. You’ve had a deep and lasting impact on his life. You’re such an integrated and ingrained part of his life. I can only hope that he’s reached an easier place now, one where he can smile as the memories of you arise in his mind. One where with each passing day he can carry your memory with a little more joy and a little less sorrow than the day before.

It’s been a year since your passing.
I am just a girl seated somewhere remembering you today. I’m just a girl who wished to have met you in person (had the circumstances allowed). I was not fortunate to know you before your passing, but I enjoyed the stories Y told me about you. And though you didn’t get to know me, know that we share something in common: we both love Y.

You’re deeply missed and always remembered.

Rest in peace.

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