This is nothing coherent by any stretch of the imagination. I am just writing my heart out daily as I try to make sense of what is going on.
I have been recovering as I grapple with my feelings about the loss of my brother Titus Kiumbe. I have always called him Qch. When I see such a young person, who is also a young father die, I am starting to think that aging is a great privilege that is not afforded to all people. It is indeed a great blessing to be able to grow old. In this tragedy, I am also recognizing that you do nothing to grow old. God alone allows it. I am now surprised that people would feel uneasy talking about their advanced age, when in fact it is to be celebrated. One should feel as good about a big number that is their age, as that number in pounds of gold. It is a rare and precious thing to age.
On April 3,2018 I sent Kiumbe this “out of the blues” text message
“Qch, It was a pleasant surprise to see you in December when we came to Kenya. It was awesome to meet your wife Lena and son Mugambi - a cute little person. I was thrilled to hear what you have done and continue to do. Thinking about it 3 months later I want to say how proud I am of you and how fortunate I am to be your brother. To have seen you hustle, working with your hands away from home to bring yourself to where you are now, I , contrary to what our culture would expect of two brothers, say to you kid bro Qch, I love you man. All the best and you are the best. Regards to Lena and the young man.”
Today I am grateful to see how good it has been working with other people, hearing their condolences, and knowing that they really care. I am grateful for all the people calling us and reaching out to know how we are feeling. It is easy to think that one needs people to help fund the funeral expenses. While that is partly true, it is also true that we get much from just having people around to tell us that they are praying with us and that it will be well. I have enjoyed reading posts on Facebook regarding this tragedy and I have felt strengthened in hearing what people are feeling about us. The gift of people - especially those open to listening to me rumble is precious.
I have just come out from a call from a relative, and uncle in fact, that did not seem to share the same feeling of loss that to the extent that I currently have. I know it is selfish to expect people, even the kid's own uncle, to bear this mental burden to the same magnitude. However, I would expect some measure of grace and care in talking about it. It might not have been a fault of his, but to call me to tell me, just casually that my brother has died, and then go on to ask for my money was a really mean thing. I feel really bad at this time. I am planning on going to Kenya, God willing on Thursday. I am grateful that Nkatha is willing to come with me.
Thank you Mercy
I am grateful for Mercy to be able to coordinate a meeting of the family members here and abroad - in Nairobi and Meru. I am able to see first hand how gifted she is coordinating the zoom meetings to get the funeral plans going on. I cannot imagine what Kiumbe's wife Lena must be feeling right now. One week ago she had a loving and caring husband. This man now is being referred to as a body and all the death and dying vocabulary that comes in at a time like this. I deeply wonder what is happening to her.
I think loss is not a feeling. It is a real thing. I think there are things you could feel like you have lost as demonstrated by physical absence, and that there are things when you lose them it is more about an emotional loss.
This kid's loss by death is grievous. I think nothing says you have lost like the way death does. We have a whole science designed to keep us alive. This is the exact purpose of medicine as a science. The body system itself is designed to keep us alive. The white blood cells fight to keep us alive. People will give up everything they have to stay alive. When disease threatens our existence there is nothing we spare trying to fight it. The devil knows this as was reported in his conversation with God regarding Job. The devil pointed out "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life" (Job 2: 4). Satan was saying people will give everything they have, up to their skin for pay their health. When we lose health, in death - it sounds much like the ultimate loss.
As the events leading to going to Kenya continue to unfold I find myself wondering why I am taking the time, face the health risk of traveling, and incur the cost going there. There would have to be a good reason people would attend a funeral. It is not fun. I think I am going to Kenya because I believe that other people have a purpose in my life and that I have a purpose in other people's lives. I think as a human race we complete each other. I think we are complete together. It is not to say we are not to pursue self independence and and live our own lives, but life is complete when we live it together. I think I am going to love on people (in this case family), and expect other people (in this case family) to love on me. I would feel jilted if I did not receive sincere love from family.
A loss by death is permanent. One of us is eternally missing from us. Our brother is completely gone from us. We are not a whole unit anymore. However, we will labor to compensate for it. We will have to live with it. We cannot mourn forever. Coming together in a funeral is for us - the corporate us. We hope to help ourselves heal. So, I am going to Kenya for me. I am equally going to Kenya for other people - the family. This is premised on that I matter to them, and they matter to me on exactly the measure. A sense of an inaccuracy of this balance would be a very painful thing. It would be the thing I would mourn.