It was about eight o’clock pm; I was sleeping with the hopes that my friend Rachel would knock on my door to wake me up—but she didn’t.
Knock knock! Or was it a loud bang. All I remember was jumping out of bed after hearing it.
It was my brother.
“Dela they are leaving…and you are over here sleeping.”
I wore my slippers and rushed to the carpark to met a group of people—my new friends—laughing and saying their final goodbyes. It was an intense moment. Everybody was hugging, some were crying and others stood by the bus trying not to show their true emotions—but they couldn’t have us fooled, we all knew they were sad as well.
“Dela have you seen Rachel?” Have you said goodbye to her yet? That was Kay talking, a participant from Ghana who had—like many people, realised how close Rachel and I had become over the past couple of months. She escorted me—teasing me as we walked—and yelled upon seeing Rachel: “there she is, go and hug her and say your final goodbyes”. Kay is one funny lady.
Anyway back to my story. I gave Rachel a hug, and before I could say goodbye, Iva, another friend—who is from Slovakia, come up to me with tears in her eyes and her arms opening up for a farewell hug.
(This was one of the most emotional days of my life.)
As the bus took off, I pulled a Vietnamese friend—called Thuan—close to me, she was also in tears, and consoled her for a bit before dashing back to my room. “You can visit each of us in our various countries,” I said, not sure if that was comforting enough.
I tried not to show that I had begun missing my new friends but as you can tell from this post, I couldn’t help it. This message was written about two hours after I tossed and turned in bed trying hard not to think about how I was probably never or in a long time, going to see them.
To China with love
Two months earlier, I arrived in China with a group of Ghanaians on a training program to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine; but truly I got more than that, I made friends that are nothing short of God sent; diverse people from around the world who taught me the beauty of life. Before, I lived in my own little world, but as I lay on my bed moments after the first bus had left, I slowly began to breakdown emotionally, I couldn’t help but realise how much I loved them. Rachel for one, my Zambian friend—who told the entire world that I was her kid brother—was very instrumental in the birthing of my three previous blog posts. She really inspired me and always had a new idea up her sleeve without even realising it. She made me more confident in my crazy style of drawing and always asked, have you read this or that book or would say: this is what came to me when I read your writing. Her input was very valuable.
As I reflected on our conversations and the many hours I spent with her, the topic of living tributes began to bubble up within me.
A couple of minutes before that, however, after I got to my room and started scrolling through our whatsapp group page, I saw a sad face emoticon right beneath the recent pictures my brother had posted. It was Thuan. She was sad and didn’t hide it, she genuinely cared about people and we all knew it: she genuinely appreciated the little family we had become.
Many thoughts came to me: how is she going to be remembered; what’s the nicest thing you can say about a person or do to appreciate them whiles they are still alive? I pondered over these questions and then it dawned on me—God spoke—that there is truly something good in everyone. Many times in life, we tend to forget the little things people did in the past to show that they care and love us as soon as they make a big mistake. Sometimes we just forget because we have a lot on our minds and only remember the good in them once they are dead: when we have to read or write a tribute, at or for their funeral. I am reminded of the time I wrote my grandfather’s tribute from his grandchildren (more about this story here). It’s sad that many only wait to read tributes to people when they are dead and can’t appreciate the compliments; or when a friendship turns sours after lack of love and appreciation. This I did a couple of times, but I knew from that very moment that that needed to change.
The morning after
As I walked to and from the restaurant, past Rachel’s room, I couldn’t help but remember all the meetings and conversations we had: talks on the Holy Ghost, forgiveness, convos on Korean music and dramas, anecdotes on Sherlock Holmes; the discoveries about China and a lot more. She is honestly, the cherry on top of the icing on my trip to China, and where else can I appreciate her but on the blog she has helped steer for the past couple of months. So to end this post, I will love to make my tribute. This is to you Rachel:
Often in life, we meet special people who have the power to inspire us and enrich our worldview: people who awaken our gifts and give us the zeal to pursue our calling in amazing ways. You’re one of those people Rachel. Meeting you was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Call it chance, call it serendipity, I call it God giving me a new beautiful friend. It’s been really good knowing you Rachel. Thank you so much for being a good friend.