Death. I have trouble writing about this, I have trouble speaking or dealing with this. I do not want to accept the fact that all life is fragile and finite, I need to believe that we will all be around forever. But it’s never that simple; people die. Young, old, rich or poor, there is no difference; in the end none of us escapes. Death comes to us all. In the tree of life, some of us shall be taken ripe; having lived a full life we shall meet our end gracefully and peacefully. Some of us shall be plucked too early, too violently, too brutally; our dreams lost, our hopes unfulfilled.
My first adult experience with loss left me hollow and strained. I felt as though there was a tangible empty rasping sound to my words and in my thoughts. Normalcy mocked me; night ridiculed me with how easily it succumbed to day, I needed the darkness a little longer. The emptiness in me was hungry, always seeking to consume but never satisfied. It was hungry for the taste of your pain, only sated when it recognised itself in you. It needed the salt of your tears, the restriction in your throat, it needed to create a void in you and fill it with emptiness. But life simply continued, and at some point so did I.
After the horrific attacks in Paris last Friday, the posts and colours of the French flag on social media made me feel like the world was mourning with Paris, that the barbaric acts would not go unnoticed and that life is precious. What confused me were the attacks of a different sort that began on social media. Any life taken too soon, be it in Africa, Europe or anywhere else in the world, is a tragedy and I do not see the outpouring of grief and support as an acknowledgement otherwise. Yes, we should be more aware of what is happening not only in the rest of the world but also in our backyard. Yes, we should mourn the lives lost, lives tragically cut short. But let’s not condemn each other for the support we chose to give and who we chose to give it to. If you seek to educate and enlighten, then great, we need more of that but please do not use your knowledge to put others down. The real tragedy is in the lives lost, not in how we have or have not decided to show our support.
If prayer came naturally for me, I would say that I pray for us. I pray for those who lost their lives and for those left behind. I pray for Michael Komape, a five year old South African boy who lost his life in a pit toilet in his school, in the same way that I pray for those who lost their lives in Paris, Japan, Beirut, Mexico. I pray for the children of tomorrow, I pray that their future will be brighter than ours and I pray that they are not fated to repeat the mistakes that we made.