My nephew Taji died last week.
I am still heartbroken and unable to pray.
‘Mama, what did Tata Nadia say?’ Kendi asked in her most concerned voice. She was standing in front of me. I was sitting on my couch, crying and crying. My cousin Nadia had just called me with the news. I had my hand over my head and I was basically wailing and I didn’t have the wherewithal to recognize that my 3 year old was watching and worried. I was heartbroken.
‘Mama, mama, what did Tata Nadia say?’ she repeated and touched my leg.
She pulled me out of my despair, ‘Kendi, be ing’eo Heaven? (do you know Heaven)’ I asked her.
‘Yes’, she responded confidently.
‘Baby Taji, odhi Heaven, bedo gi Jesus’ (Baby Taji has gone to Heaven to be with Jesus)’ I said as I gasped for air.
She nodded her head and went to sit down.
I got up and went to scream-cry into my pillow.
At the funeral, Kendi asked every single person, sometimes twice or 10 times, ‘why are you crying?’ She basically got the same answer in different variations;
‘Baby Taji has gone to be with the angels’
‘Baby Taji has gone up there above the clouds’
‘Baby Taji has become a star in the sky’
‘I’m sad because baby Taji is no longer here’
She asked and asked and asked. It was her way of making sense of things. Ask and the answer shall be given unto you, until you understand. Then she turned and told my mother, ‘Dana, only girls are crying’, and that, right there, was an even bigger learning moment than the explanation of death.
But then something very interesting happened in the weekend. I was looking at my wedding pictures and she asked me, ‘Mama an kanye?’ (where am I)’ ‘Oh, in pod ni onge‘ (you still weren’t here), I answered absently.
‘Why?’ she asked. That’s actually her favorite question to ask (why didn’t anyone warn me???) ‘nikech pod ni in Heaven gi Nyasaye‘ (you were still in Heaven with God), I answered confidently, knowing I would stub her and she wouldn’t know how to continue her questioning. ‘Then, everyone cry?’ she asked.
I laughed so hard, I cried!