Friday, June 12, 2009
We Have Lost Godfrey
(an excerpt from my journal the day Godfrey died.)
We have lost Godfrey. I don’t know what to say or write but somehow I hope that if the words come out they will replace the tears. We had heard that Godfrey was in the hospital and then the news came that he passed away on Friday morning at 2am. That was midnight for us--I was awake then, lying in bed and praying for his recovery, sure that he would be okay, that Dan and Rachel would not grow up without their father, that we would not lose our friend, that we would see his amazing smile and clap hands again with him in September. We were looking forward to coming back to Uganda to share sorrows and trials and laughs with him and hear the sound of his unique gravelly voice. Godfrey was a good friend to us. For three years we helped to carry each others burdens, made decisions together, cast vision together, mediated conflicts together. We realized more of our potential because we did everything together. I loved working with him. We were a good team. In all that time he rarely lost his cool in anger and even when he did the only indication was the way he would widen his eyes and flare his nostrils. He didn’t act hastily but thought things through and acted in ways he believed would be in the best interest of others. He was a trustworthy man who kept my confidence and shared his life with us. We loved how proud he was of Rachel and Dan, especially how Rachel danced so well and how Dan is a stubborn ‘pocket’ version of him. It is so painful to accept that he is not with us anymore.
I was in the bus when I go the call. I couldn’t hold back the tears. A woman near me handed me a tissue. This odd community of strangers on their commute to work sat with me while I cried. A woman behind me made a phone call—making plans for Sunday lunch with her mom and it struck me that these were everyday things. People go from home to work and back again. They make weekend plans. And they die.
None of us knows how long we will be here. We could lose anyone, anytime. But I didn’t expect to lose Godfrey so soon. I took for granted that we would have many more everyday moments together: birthday parties, Sunday afternoons with slip and slide, drowning work and life stresses in laughter. Uganda is not the same country without him. The world is poorer for the loss of him.
A few years ago we celebrated his 35th birthday together and one of our elders (Emmanuel) said that he was now welcomed into being a Mzee (elderly man). He only had 2 years of Mzee-hood. He had dreams of starting an NGO to help young people in Apac and of running for parliament. He would have been a great MP. He could have done so much more for his community and his country. He would have been a great friend to have all our lives. He would have been a great old Mzee. He was a good man, a good friend, and I miss him.