When Tragedy Strikes

I have such a heavy heart today, I can’t begin to imagine the emotional rollercoaster my friend *Tammy must be going through. I blogged about her father who passed due to AIDS mid 2012.

Today when I gave her a call to catch up now that the Christmas season is over, Tammy tells me her Christmas was not good. Why? I ask. Her reply ‘my husband was murdered on thursday.’ I went cold – why? how? what on earth !!!

He was shot and killed due to a mugging. Words…  fail me. He was young, newly wed. Tammy is young and they have a little daughter. WHY ?? Why murder – take the goods but why then murder and destroy families and lives. 

Times like these, I can only offer my presence, my shoulder, my ears. Nothing I could possible say would take her hurt away.

God Bless my friend, I’m here for you – always.

 

Is The NRA Entirely To Blame.

It was mid evening here in South Africa when I picked up my cellphone and began reading the status updates on facebook. My condolences go out to the parents in Connecticut – read one. What did this person mean by my condolences. I switched over to twitter – the world that never sleeps and type in a word search for #connecticut.  OMG – my heart began pounding as I read more and more. My hubby came through to the living room having just put our baby to bed. Turn on CNN quick, something really terrible has happened at an elementary school in America.

We both sat glued to the telly. Utter disbelief. This is just surreal. Say it isn’t so. I just broke down in tears. We have a 6-year-old. 2006 babies, like our son. As the reports came in, you watched the parents arriving knowing not all were going to leave with their children.  The death toll rising, hero teachers and so the reports trickled in. My hubby sat on his twitter while in front of the telly. Twitter if far more informative and accurate compared to the news broadcasters in my opinion.

I couldn’t sleep. It was late at this stage in South Africa. President Obama came on to address the media and I cried even more as he spoke or tried to. I had so many thoughts running through my head – the talk turned to the NRA and their silence. Focus not only on Sandy Hook but previous school shootings, malls, cinemas and the list continues. I thought quietly to myself, Americans are  not only targets outside of America (Benghazi and more) but they are also targets among themselves. I don’t know much about the gun laws there but I can say this much: It is a mind-blow at how easy it is to walk into a store and purchase a glock, semi-automatic weapon and much more. The reports of gun sales increased after the Sandy Hook tragedy Shocking !!! The mentality to go out and purchase a weapon for ‘protection’. The comments good guns can stop bad guns. I still ask myself why the heck did a school teacher feel the need to house so many weapons to begin with (the gun mans mother). The NRA’s lack to scrutinise the characteristics and competency of a potential gun owner.

Part of me thinks – YOU, the American public empower the NRA by giving them the sales. What process, if any, is followed when purchasing such weapons. In my so called ‘third world’ country – obtaining a legal weapon of such calibre is not an easy task. Psychological tests, competency tests, written test and more are required before you are even considered for such a purchase – and a very strong record kept as to what weapon you own.

We have never experienced such shootings as America within schools, cinemas etc. I’m not saying gun violence doesn’t exist here – I’m saying, not by most registered gun owners and never in such a manner to my knowledge. I count my blessings – for now. I was dumbfounded by the NRA’s comment to put armed officers outside of every school in America. I mean – would that apply to every cinema, corporate, public or tourist building throughout the US too? I don’t understand that logic! They say in South Africa – you are more lightly to be hurt or murdered with your own gun, if you have one – than not.

My brother has a few guns. Having grown up in Zimbabwe during a civil war – learning to respect and be responsible with a glock or shotgun came standard under the circumstances. Personally I fear guns. I have been to the shooting range with my brother. I have pulled the trigger a few times on a 9mm and a shot gun and know all too well just how powerful such weapons are. Imagine a semi- automatic weapon or fully automatic weapon. It doesn’t take a genius to know to remove the pin on such guns. I have never returned to the shooting range, I just didn’t like it. I left with a better understanding and respect for guns though.  The movies make pulling a trigger look all ‘cool’ , easy and quiet frankly – glamorous. Well it’s not. Ten days later I read on twitter how firemen in a town close to New York were lured to a house on fire as a trap where they were met by a gunman killing two of them. Sad. I know the gun sales make huge revenue and changing things like laws, mentality and perceptions won’t be easy. But something needs to be changed for a safer america.

Words fail me as I think so often of the lives lost at Sandy Hook. The grief and pain of those parents is inconceivable. No words can comfort them so I pray daily.  The beautiful teachers left an imprint on my heart, they loved those little ones and their self-sacrificing actions spoke volumes.  Rest in peace beautiful souls. I will remember you. This is my song for all americans who feel strongly about gun law change. . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbkOZTSvrHs – You are the voice.

May God Bless America.

I Met A Dying Man.

AIDS Awareness

AIDS Awareness

In July I ventured into a new industry, while out on course, I met and made friends with new faces. One person in particular I found to be so much like me, easy to laugh, talkative, funny and friendly. Needless to say, when we were given a practical we seemed naturally to group together. After the course we stayed in contact and have developed a friendship. Early August she called me up to say she was visiting her father who lived down the road from where I stayed. Quick arrangements and there I stood knocking on her door.

When I went in, I received such a warm welcome from all her family. In the kitchen were a group of young boys washing dishes, drying, packing away, laughing and chatting. After I introduced myself I joked about how I think my eldest son could learn from them as he refuses to was a single dish – ever !!

I then met her father along with all the other family. Her father was frail, weak and very thin. He was just back from yet another stay in the hospital. I asked her what was ‘wrong’ with her father. ‘He has AIDS‘ she replied. I got such a lump in my throat. He didn’t just have AIDS – he was dying.

It’s the second time in my life I have been in the presence of a dying person. When I say dying – I mean literally on their last days. I was familiar with Cancer and lost a handful of friends and family to that. I know AIDS is of huge concern here in Africa but this was only the second time I had met someone this close to the end.

I watched him in the corner of my eye while chatting away with my friend across the room. He was happy, every minute to him was a blessing and he knew it …. he just knew. He watched his grandchildren playing with a gently smile on his face and his thoughts drifting. Times like this you realise just how short, fragile, delicate and precious life really is. How we really do sweat so much of the small stuff. I’ve learnt far too young in my life just how unpredictable and short life can really be. 

I wondered yet again as I often do with regards to my own mother. Is knowing better than not knowing. I know enough to know that when you know you are dying – you seem to live your life differently. Appreciation for all things that surround us, takes on a whole new level.

I said good-bye and shook his hand. I knew in my heart I would probably never see him again. I cried driving home that night. I just wanted a cure. So many broken families, child parents and a nasty rejection stigma attached to people dying of AIDS among some cultures in our country.

My friend called me two weeks back – ‘My father is back in hospital, he is hallucinating’  she said while laughing and telling me about these spirits he claims to be visiting his room’. I listened and shared a reserved laughter with her. After which I said, ‘He is dying, treasure your hospital visits and maybe if you want, record his last conversations with you’ I explained my journey through losing my loved ones and every time this point was reached, within a couple of days – they were gone.

A few days later one mid-afternoon, she called, ‘my dad is gone, he died this morning’ I was so sad for her, for him – to die so young, to be robbed of his life and time with his children & grandchildren. It just isn’t fair.

Our govt claims TB is the number one killer in our country. Personally I say this is a blatant lie. The true stats I’m sure would probably scare one. Most, if not all AIDS sufferers die after contracting the likes of pneumonia or TB. It’s a symptom not the cause. Far too often then the death certificate will say TB being the cause and that is what the statistics will reflect. AIDS is a big taboo in most cultures. One day I will blog about the politics of it but for now – my heart is heavy. A family is mourning, they have lost their rock. I will never forget this man who left me reflecting on life, angry at how unfair it can be yet reflecting on my blessings. RIP, no more pain or suffering.

Janet Jackson wrote this song for her friends who had passed – It’s my song for my sister Debbie who past. Can never listen to it without breaking down. Beautiful words.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QTK-4C0UnI&feature=related

Remember yesterday, Live for today and ALWAYS hope for tomorrow.

xxx