Sunday Morning

Sunday had always been Momma’s favourite day. She’d get up early, make breakfast and lunch then doll herself up for church. Martha needed only an hour to get ready so they could take the short drive to their ‘home church.” Martha liked to find new ways to tell her mother she looked good, she was a walking thesaurus. Ravishing, gorgeous, exquisite,stunning….Momma would instantly have the widest grin on her face each time she heard the compliments.

Depending on her mood, she would turn around and strike a pose..or simply ask “Aren’t you used by now?” They would both laugh and head out.

 

silhouette of mother kissing her daughter
Sunday had unexpectedly turned into a painful reminder of what things used to be. Martha dreaded it as much as she now resented God. How could he break her rock,her best friend, her genuine piece of happiness? Her cheerful momma had transformed into a shell of her former self in an instant.
Martha could vividly remember that evening. She had returned from work to find her mother coiled up on the couch, with puffy eyes and a stack of handkerchiefs. “What happened momma?” she yelled, louder than she’d expected. Momma seemed unable to make eye contact, her crestfallen face speaking louder than words. “I have ccckkkkk….” Was all she could muster before she broke down. Martha hugged her tight, trying to figure out what she was trying to say, hoping they would figure it out whatever it was. She could not remember the last time she had seen her mother like this. A part of her did not want to know what she was trying to say. After what seemed like ages, momma looked up and whispered, “the doctor says it’s cancer.”
Silence.
Tears started to roll down Martha’s cheeks. She opened her mouth but failed to make a sound. A million thoughts run through her head as she subconsciously dug her fingers into momma’s back. It was only after momma let out a soft moan that she noticed and put her arms around her neck instead. It was the longest night in her 25 years of existence.
********
Why were the chemotherapy sessions on Sunday anyway? Couldn’t the universe at least give them a break on this day of all days?, Martha often thought. Momma was now bald and weighed much less. She had aged rapidly  in this past year. The cancer took more than just her hair and weight though, it had stolen her spirit. That bit killed Martha more than the pain and financial struggles. She wanted her mommy back.
On the good days they took walks and talked animatedly, almost like old times.

Momma had noticed her oncologist’s left hand on one of their visits, always with her attention to details. There was no wedding band. On one of their routine checks,recently, she had turned to him and casually asked “Do you think my daughter is beautiful?” He’d been perusing through her file and it dropped immediately. He quickly picked it up, completely flustered and seemingly unable to respond. “Mom!” Martha exclaimed. “What? It is just a simple question,” momma stubbornly replied. The poor Doctor stood there unsure what to do next. “Well, this little girl of mine is single and it would be nice if you could both grab coffees sometime, you work too hard.” The tall, dark Doctor finally spoke. He turned in Martha’s direction and smiled, “I am game if you are.” He mumbled some excuse and hurriedly left the room.
They both burst out laughing when he left. Despite the awkwardness of the situation, Martha had missed her mom’s from-the-core-of-the-heart-laughter. She tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to remember the last time they had shared a moment like this.
It was in that instant that she decided she would stop blaming God or anyone else for their situation. If her single mother could give her the enviable life she had lived, the least she could do was give her beautiful memories in her time of need. Things had to change if she was to get her best friend back. Not to mention, Doctor Otim was not bad looking either 😉
Sunday mornings would not be the same, they would be better.

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Fare thee well

Viv sent me a link yesterday. I decided to wait till I was ‘free’ and comfortable before I could read it.

Little did I know that this blog post here, would change everything.

I sobbed pretty much through the entire thing.

It was deep, painful and I repeat, painful.

I don’t know if it was because I could relate to this numbing pain that outwits the mightiest of painkillers or the fact that someone was going through it, in real time.

Maybe it was Mbugua’s unwavering faith and the strength I could feel oozing from him as my shaky index finger scrolled to unveil a new paragraph.

Perhaps it was the fact that I was in a bad place myself and was suddenly guilty of not being thankful or even worthy enough.

Whatever it was, the post broke me into so many pieces and before I could recover, I sent Viv a message telling her all the things that I felt.

Her reply was “I just felt that you could relate and appreciate it. Must have been God speaking.”

I told her she was right and that I planned to read all his blog posts. She cut me short with the heartbreaking news that my newfound hero passed away on Sunday. The horror!

She cut me short with the heartbreaking news that my newfound hero had passed away on Sunday. Oh the horror!

I was almost  mad at her for giving me a good thing, then taking it away. If I felt like this, what about his family, his friends?

As if things could not get any worse, I found out he got better along the way and even proposed to his girlfriend who has been by his side the whole time. Now he was no more. Whyyyyyyyy?????!

“Lucky” for me I generally have trouble sleeping so I had plenty of time to mourn, pray and ponder life in all its complexity.

I was both humbled and convicted by a paragraph within his blog post where he dared to ask the question “Is all this pain worth it?” I have to share this.

To answer the question of whether it is worth it to go through this painful experience: If by this pain I have been a witness to the truth and glory of Christ; if by this pain I have strengthened and encouraged a believer; If by this pain I might have pointed someone to Jesus and caused them to desire a personal relationship with Him, Yes, it is worth it. My body will probably disagree, and it is expected, but I choose to side with my spirit and soul, which vehemently affirm.

Whether you are a believer or not, I am convinced each of us has a role to play, an innate ability, to inspire others even  in the slightest of ways.

We may not all be eloquent or confident  enough to stand tall and speak of God’s goodness but that we are alive is enough. For what better way to testify than to live your life? e have no excuse for simply existing because every minute is an opportunity for us to be a living testimony for everyone we encounter.

We have no excuse for simply existing because every minute is an opportunity for us to be a living testimony for all the people that we encounter along life’s path.

I visited the late Mbugua’s facebook page,  A prayer for Mbugua that has been open throughout his illness with updates and so many uplifting words of comfort and support.

It is evident he touched so many lives through his strength, faith and words.

I might have gotten to ‘know’ him at a time when he was saying farewell but he has impacted my life too.

The hospital bill was cleared as an emergency finance so that the family could leave the hospital in India. If I remember correctly, Mbugua’s body arrives in Kenya today.I got this number from the facebook page 0706551777 for contributions via Mpesa. At least the family can concentrate on mourning, knowing the financial burden has been lifted. Do support if you can.

Death is a thief and it takes those whom we feel most deserve to be with us but there is comfort in knowing that he who is no longer with us gave us great memories, and in Mbugua’s case inspiration too.

I did not know this graceful gentleman who lost his battle to cancer, but from the little I have learnt in the past few hours even I have a story to tell.

Rest easy Mbugua, may your memory continue to inspire and bless the ones you left behind.

verse

The fault in our stars

That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.

When Raymond gave me the movie “The fault in our Stars.” He warned me that there would be lots of tears involved.
It is for that reason that I put it very far from me, waiting for the ‘right moment.’
They say ‘misery loves company’ but I find that when I am at my lowest, the last thing I need is to find out that someone else is in pain.
I had been having one bad day after another and as a result, I did not need any pain inducing movies or activities.
What I needed was a few happy endings and perhaps a chance to be invisible for a while. *Didn’t happen*

When I realised things were not changing, I decided to give the movie a chance and it is from it that I heard the phrase “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.”
Not that this was an epiphany or anything but it perfectly summarised what was going on inside.
Ever been in a place; where you did not want to hear phrases like “It gets better,’ or ‘Hang in there?’ Have you had to pretend that everything is okay when in fact it is the exact opposite.
Are there times when it was your ‘duty’ to be strong and so you did precisely that even if you dealt with fear after fear?
Did you ever need to turn to someone only to find they were not there?
It happens to all of us, at some point.
It is in these moments that self pity might creep up and you seek every ‘portion’ you can find that will bring even a speck of positive vibes, if only for a minute.
Although the movie mainly centred on victims of cancer, it was beautiful in so many other ways. Yes, it had me unashamedly wailing like a little child.
The tears might have been induced by the characters, but deep within so many emotions were aroused.
Aches from the thought of death, the real victims I have encountered who have lost the battle to cancer or are still struggling with it. The families, friends and care takers who are learning to adapt albeit sorrowfully. It was pretty devastating.
It ended. I meditated. It stayed with me.
Fast forward, to a few days later.
We were all set for Akiba, ready to pain the house, put up playing places and material for the kids who are struggling with cancer and make merry.
I was excited and restless.
The skies seemed to have other plans and I began to anticipate the “It’s raining, I can’t make it’ messages. A few of them came in but I was overwhelmed by the number of people who turned up despite the terrible weather. The kind of loyalty you do not find everyday.
We played indoor games during the downpour and it was so much fun 😀
When the tea arrived, it was just what the doctor had ordered. A huge ‘tumpeco’ (mug) all to myself 🙂
The cleaning, painting, building and at time demolishing (ssshhhh) finally began. People were like worker bees. I have not seen that amount of dedication and team work in a long time.
They did not even want to have lunch before the work was done.
My heart was just all kinds of warm and fuzzy watching all this.

akiba paint

akiba washing

paint 2

One pose then back to work

One pose then back to work

I had to run and give a talk at a women’s conference but I felt like missing even a few minutes of the ‘Akiba pimping’ would kill me. I know. I know.

Akiba with kds
You know how a young mother can leave her son with a sister or even her own mother and call to check almost every 10 minutes? Even if she knows the little one is in safe, experienced loving hands? Yep. That is the best way I can explain it.
Immediately after the talk, I rushed back to see what was happening. Not before a young lady, Daphne* asked for my contacts.
I shall share an excerpt of the email she has sent me.
Thank you so much for what you do to bring a smile to children in Uganda. Growing up as an orphan made me go           through various challenges but luckily, I was able to study and graduate.
I have no stable job but believe I don’t need a lot of money to help the less fortunate. I believe I can volunteer with you and bring a smile to some children.
I therefore request to be part of your team and look forward to changing lives.
After reading this email, I was reminded of what 40-40 is all about.
It is not easy or painless but it is certainly worth it. (Also, pain demands to be felt so we shall have to accept these demands, no?)
The feeling of joy in my heart from the experiences this journey has brought me is almost palpable.
It is also quite evident that I have been blessed in more ways that I ever could repay.
Related: Christmas is here 🙂

baby Jesus

Cheers to the future

A couple of weeks ago, I started a new year, a new chapter in my life.

Unlike past birthdays, this was the first one where my mindset switched from “Where did all the years go?” to “I cannot wait for what the next few years have to offer.”

This past year was also one of growth and maturity (or so I hope) and I have learnt a few things, noticed others that hitherto silently passed me by but mostly I am grateful for  several things that will probably not all be tackled in this post.

Providence, family, friends

I didn’t think that I would quit my job for my passion and I did not know if I would last. I did it anyway..and here we are.

It is one thing to believe in something so much you will give anything for it, it is completely different to have people believe with you.

I have been blessed by God in countless ways but the most important gifts he has sent have come in form of angels that I call my family and friends.

We do not always agree or even pretend to. Many of them saw what could go wrong with my choices, and continue to remind me how precarious it is, but they stay anyway.

What we all deserve is someone/some people who are willing to put their doubts aside and support us, if for anything-just because it is what we need.

 

The will, the drive, the strength to carry on

 

I am not a morning person mostly because I get very little sleep at night and then actually begin to rest just before sunrise so conversations, phone calls, work that start this early often mess with my system and I avoid them when I can.

Nevertheless, I do them anyway. There are t.v interviews I have had to do which involved getting there before 7a.m, appointments with people who have no time besides those early hours and I can’t begin explaining my issues.

So, that boda has to be flagged down and the cold braced. When there, sense has to be made even if you are there only in body.

The rain has showered me from time to time but I think of them as hazards that come with the job.

What is most challenging is the fact that there are no ‘direct results’ and even if they come, they take a while. Unlike the early bird who will get to his stall and  target those heading to work to increase sales, I will talk till I am out of breath, meet everyone I can to sell this dream and the wait. Simply sit tight and wait.

I am grateful for the patience to wait, and to have something that I believe in- to wait upon.

When it comes to strength, even I have no idea where it comes from. Sometimes 36 hour days occur and you can’t explain to an ‘ordinary person’ what it is you were up to, many times not even yourself.

It is funny how people are so quick to judge based on physical appearances.

Big=strong, Small=weak. What is worse is that they openly admit it.

“You are Esther? I didn’t expect you to be so young and this small.”

Me: I had no expectations of what you should look like but that is just me.

The 40/4o team recently participated in the cancer run.The idea was that we stick together whether we have to jog, walk or crawl, and we did. I had not eaten well for the past few days but I didn’t give it much thought. That was until my stomach started to act up after we reached the 5km mark or so. When my friends would say, let us run downhill, I would gesture that I was right behind them but the truth is I was barely managing.

Somehow, I grabbed one of them and told them the truth on one condition- we finished the race no matter what. We did 🙂

I want to say size is not everything but it would be redundant.

The mother’s ‘motoka’ eh!

I learnt how to drive when I was about 18 and I thought at the time it would be a nice skill to have for the ‘future.’

Driving was easy but road users were not. I got so many insults for being ‘mu kintu,‘ coming from the ‘privileged side’ or simply for being young and a woman. This would mostly happen when stuck in traffic especially next to taxi. I started to always have the window up no matter what or pretend not to understand Luganda.

The skill did come in handy! Before long, I was the go to person to pick that relative arriving at 5a.m or drop another to the bus station at 12a.m. Was this the reason driving school fees were paid? Well played.

No but seriously, I did my duties grudgingly but with a lot of love 🙂

Fast forward to the past year, after worrying about her daughter’s late nights and endless meetings, events and appointments, the mother decided to give her blessing. If I was coming late, I needed a trusted chauffeur or her very own car. That is how the ‘small’ woman above ^^ began to worry less about those constant meetings, pick ups, deliveries and for that I am truly grateful!

40-40 registered, complete with an office and bank account

There was a time when Banura and I would have millions of shillings for a particular projects. We could not bank this money in our personal accounts because, you know and then keeping it was also not the best idea.

When your friend in the UK says they have sent 100 pounds, you run to western union and withdraw it. You get to your favourite restaurant and a menu with scrumptious meals is brought before you. You check your wallet and look at the crisp new shillings you got from the exchange and none of them are yours. So you order for mirinda fruity, with ice instead. Don’t ask about the ice, it is a long story.

Those days are now over, no more nightmares about missing funds that were meant for the children. Temptations are fewer.

As`we hunted for banks, one Relationship Manager told us ’40 days over 40 smiles’ sounded like a forged name. That did bite quite a bit, but when I look at our registration certificate,the office, that one dedicated employee and a bank statement- I am more than thankful. Also, I know that this will make for a good story one day 🙂

Sleep/Rest, when it does show up

I am very thankful for the gift of sleep. It might not always be there but when it is- ooh the joy!

Sometimes I wonder if I had a boss what I would say. “Sorry I came in at 11, the sleep only came to me at 6. You understand, right? Thanks”

My schedule can be crazy but at least it is on my terms, okay mostly it is. When I wear myself thin, it is my choice and oh how I cherish the ability to blame myself for my own bad decisions.

I know who I am

The first thing that comes to me is the gospel song “I know who God says I ma, What He says I am, where He says am at, I know who I am.”

When you really know who you are, to the extent that you are not shaken by what people think or say of you, you are walking a fine road.

I can’t pretend to have got to that level,more so when it comes to people I care about being on the ‘other side.’ However I am comfortable in what is within, knowing that it belongs to me and I am in control of it.

Everything else that is external shall come and go with age and time but the soul is eternal.

In William Ernest Henley’s words, “I am the master of my fate,I am the captain of my soul.”

My Mony

This lady right here came to my heart and never left.

When I get out of bed and the folks are already at work, I first find her, ask how her night was and then my day can begin.

We have whined, prayed, sang, shopped and pretty much done everything together.

When she finds me meddling in the kitchen, she will ask what I need and fix it, especially those days when a meal is the last thing on my mind.We have an inside joke that even if you have had a meal at a 5 star Hotel, you will still come home and have at least something.

She has loved my family and I and all those who have walked through our doors. Quite frankly, I do not know what we shall do without her.

For now though, I must maximise her calm, generous and prayerful self 🙂

There are so many things to be thankful for and beautiful lessons that have not come easy but have come nonetheless.

Your dream won’t let you be still

The most used ‘app’ on my phone is the ‘notes’ because there is always a new thought,idea or reminder to make 40-40 better. This is on top of the hundreds of notebooks I own (each with different contents I might add).
You can’t stop. You won’t stop. Once the dream begins to grow, you want everyone to feel the way you do, the adrenaline, the pain,the passion, if not for this dream- then for something else because you can’t imagine anyone living without at least one thing that makes them momentarily insane.

The dreams and nightmares too:P

It is one day to Hoops for Grace. We have planned it for a while and we hope it will be massive.  We can only do our bit. Some people on the team started having dreams about it as far back as last week, sleep is becoming elusive and of course there is that drama from within and without that will always be there.

It is funny when it isn’t sad. I would love for it to work, to show the dedicated people that even a handful of people can make huge impact and that their work did not go to waste.

Mostly, I want it to work because the children at Akiba Foundation need a home that has no sign of cancer except the meds that shall be hidden in shelves.

This Saturday, come to bush court and change a life! If you can’t, feel free to make a donation to the worthy cause.

hoops poster

What goes around comes around

So many incidents come to mind but the one that I have recently been musing over occurred sometime back.

The manager of a restaurant we were having our meetings scolded me for having meetings where our consumption reduces each week. It was in a good location since the office was too far for most people.

I asked him to let us know if he wanted us out because we would do it.

Exactly two weeks after he called me back. I knew my bluff had been called but alas. “I have realised that you are good at mobilising people. Can you help us get more clients using your networks?”

I needed several moments to recover. A few months later, he was no longer employed there. Perhaps he is in a better place:)

As soon as religion comes to dominate, it has as its opponents all those who would have been its first disciples

How true is that? Replace ‘religion’ with any experience you have and see that loyalty is ranks highly on the the world’s ‘endangered species’

I read a story once of a dog that had been going to the cemetery where its master was laid to rest, everyday for years and the caretaker always waited till it had left before closing the gates.

I might not understand people who leave their wealth to animals. However, I imagine after dealing with betrayal from the human race, a loyal dog or cat may not be such  a bad idea.

The strongest people crumble and fall, the most fickle also have their days of victory.

I have learnt that forgiveness is a gift to yourself. I have also seen the power in silence. When you are wrong, admit, and once you see that you are right, save everyone the ‘I told you so.” The person you are telling knows you told them and so do you. ‘Riyalle’ save that breath for like a Uganda Cranes match.

People will give you 2% after you have invested 100% but if it was never about them anyway, then you march away with your head high and your 100% that they may never find anywhere else!

We have digressed but..we go.

The past year was a good one, even in its bad times-it was good.*We are strongest when we are weak* I mean,even the stone that the builders threw away became the cornerstone 🙂

We ought to be as wise as the man who built his house on a rock.

My birthday month is now gone *tear* but I have beautiful memories to last me a lifetime.

Everyone of you who made my day great and the days before or after, you know I love you and I try to show it rather than say it. The real rebeauty though, is in all the years ahead of us.

Every gift,cake,message, song that I got from those that know me well has a story. Those are the stories I want to build on with each and everyone of you, for a lifetime 🙂

cake 1 es

cake 2

 

cake 3

I might add I didn't sit at the front in school but eh!! *breaks into song...meet me at the river*

I might add I didn’t sit at the front in school but eh!! *breaks into song…meet me at the river*

See you at Hoops for Grace on Saturday. I can’t wait for the blog post when I tell you how amazing it was!! 🙂

Xoxo