‘Leave not for tomorrow what you can do today’
A close friend of mine has uttered that statement to me on more occasions than I can remember in the short time I’ve known him. Each time, I’m reminded of a certain reality that keeps lurking in the dark parts of my mind, refusing to be brought to light. Most times, I got the statement for putting off communicating with loved ones or simply telling them how I felt about them while they were still there. I’ve been one to entertain thoughts on telling people how much they mean to you and expressing your appreciation to them while they are still alive and can be touched by your confessions. Today, I got an even stronger wake-up call and my mind unconsciously wandered to the statement.
I sat in my room, finishing off lunch while greedily digesting the posts on a blog I stumbled upon yesterday. My room-mate, who also happens to be a classmate walked in and from the look on her face, I could tell she had brought bad news. The third foreign student in my class, also a Senegalese like my roomie, had lost her dad. My world came to a standstill, spoon still in hand, as I processed the information. At the beginning of this year, about three Gambian students over here lost a parent within a month. It was a tough moment, for some had last seen them when they’d set out in pursuit of higher education more than two years ago. Today,memories of those times flashed before me and I felt helpless. Seeing my friend shedding tears of pain for a loved one that would never be seen again was enough to send me into deep reflection. No amount of soothing words,hugs and tears of solidarity could comfort her at that moment. I tried to imagine what she was thinking…feeling…wishing for, but failed miserably, for it would only take the proverbial ‘walk in her shoes’ to know what it really felt like.
A walk many, if not all, people away from home dread and never wish to take. In the three years I’ve lived in Morocco, I’ve seen many students reluctantly walk down that lane. A phone call here, a Facebook message there, a visit from an Embassy official. All three different, but each bearing news of the loss of a loved one back home. For some, it was possible to mourn and go on with life. For others, the impact had been great enough to lead to their return home, their mission in this land incomplete. On the flip side, I’ve also seen students come into this country filled with the zeal and desire to get their degrees and go back home to work. The majority eventually have their dreams come true, but for a very small minority, it ends right here. Families and friends who had looked forward to the return of a certified professional in a certain domain have been forced to receive the corpses of their beloved. For others, it has only been the news that could go that far, as reconciliation with and the proper burial of their loved ones, sometimes proved impossible.
When these situations arise, one can’t help thinking ‘that could easily have been me’. I am not selfish in any way, but I kept wondering how I’d cope if I found myself in this situation. It hurt even more when I acknowledged the fact that I wasn’t immune to it and that it could come up at any time. It’s one of the reasons leaving home after the past two holidays always proved difficult. When I left this time, a week ago, it was with an even heavier heart, given the situation in the country. Deep within me, I was also fighting battles with my alter ego on whether to settle problems with my little sister or just pick my bags up and leave. I settled for the latter… a decision I have regretted from that very moment. Today, I’m reminded of how silly I’d been to let my ‘ego’ govern my actions. I’m scared to think of the possibility of that moment being the last chance to show her how much I loved and appreciated her despite our differences. I chide myself for refusing to be the ‘bigger man’ and show appreciation to the loved ones I’ve left behind. It took death to knock close by for me to realize how much I take for granted. It may be a cold reminder that one never wishes for, but it is a reminder all together.
Have I learned my lesson? Yes. Will I keep it in mind? I hope to. Will I ALWAYS remember the value of the relationships I hold? I really don’t know. I might wake up in a month and forget all this had happened. I did seven months ago , but I sincerely hope I stay remembering it this time. I am not the best of communicators, as the friend mentioned earlier has already pointed out, and this is something I’ve always wanted to change. I wouldn’t say I’ve had much success, but hey, that thousand-mile journey always starts with a step, right. On that note,I’m taking the step of calling my sister right now, just to hear her speak and know she’s still there.
To you, I ‘ll say one thing. Death is real and happens to be a very cold and sad reminder of what life really is worth. Take time out of your busy schedules to appreciate the people in your life while they are still here. It is nice to see people send tributes to loved ones after they are gone, but I would love to know what people think about me while I’m still here. Talk about making someone feel their presence is appreciated by another. I may not be the perfect person to preach about this, but he who feels it, knows it. Sometimes, it becomes too late for regrets and we don’t want to get caught up in that web.
This has been the most difficult post I’ve ever had to write, but I found the words flowing easily from an inner hole. They most probably have always been there, waiting to be unleashed by the silent reminder.