Grief and loss – these are perhaps some of the most difficult emotions to capture in words. The past few days have been hazy at best. I remember vividly, seeing missed calls from my mom, aunt and sister, and the news I had been dreading all month was about to be broken. I could feel my heart get heavier, my stomach suddenly felt like it kept churning itself and my eyes got watery.
“Guka rested,” my aunt said after pleasantries that cold Tuesday morning. The seconds that followed were a blurry moment. The tears came down hot and fast. Grandpa was gone, forever. My son was still asleep at the time, so I had a few moments to myself to let the news sink in. He had rested, he was no more.
His was a battle fought bravely, since 2003 when he suffered a stroke that left his speech slurred and somewhat incoherent to the casual observer. But he held on, for years. The effects of his stroke, coupled with diabetes complications meant his health status fluctuated over the years. He had to have one leg amputated, but this did not keep him from truly living. He would go for long walks (a kilometre plus) on his crutches, get back to play with his grandchildren – it encouraged and challenged as in equal measure.
Cucu was, and still remains a pillar of strength. She stood by him at his lowest points. She prayed for him. She cleaned after him. She spent sleepless nights taking care of him when his body got weary of holding on. She fed him. She was there all through, and she kept hope alive.
His last month was fraught with pain as his body fought on. He had to undergo a surgical procedure as a result of the complications. I remember my last hospital visit a day before he was discharged. He was frail, his eyes were sunken, and his hands pale. I looked at him and my mind could not reconcile the fact that this was the very man who regaled my sister and I with stories of his trips to Mombasa, his golfing days at Sigona Golf Club, the birth of his children. We knew trips to grandpa’s place would be filled with treats. Here he lay on a hospital bed, curled up in pain… He was a far cry from his former energetic self.
And so, when that phone call came, I knew the curtains had come down on guka. Rest well Guka, Rest. We loved you. And so begins a new norm, without you guka.