Kyle Mitch was born in the indecision of youth. The father – barely 30 years old – was still only grappling with the concept of his own responsibility let alone someone else’s. They – he and his girlfriend – weren’t even in a proper and defined relationship. They liked each other immensely, yes, but liking each other immensely has never been a recipe for parenthood. He lived in Kisumu and she in Nairobi. She didn’t tell him when she was pregnant because she wasn’t sure how he would react. Plus she didn’t want to make him feel like he had to step up now that he was locked into this thing. So she said boo, until she was seven months pregnant. Naturally, Steve Otieno wasn’t ready to be a father. He didn’t have a solid job worth speaking of – he was barely scratching the surface. And now a baby?

They named him Kyle Mitch Otieno because, well, why name a child a simple name like Fred? What joy is there in giving a child a name you would give a pet? Kyle Mitch Otieno had a ring to it. Steve stepped up. He had to because the “the boy was gorgeous.” They moved in together in a scruffy part of Kisumu on his meagre and uncertain salary. It was a big three-bedroom house in the middle of shanty-land. “I was doing badly, ” he told me, “before that my son lived at his grandparents house for a bit and that was embarrassing for me, you know, for the mother of your child to live at her parents’.”

He never told his mom about the the baby because he didn’t know how to bring home a woman they had never heard of, and a baby they didn’t know existed. So Kyle Mitch was born into secrecy too. Only John, Steve’s other elder brother, knew the situation from the beginning because he’s closest to Steve and he whispers everything in his ears. But you can’t hide a baby for long, not a bouncing one at least, so one day, Triza, the mother, did what Steve didn’t have the spine to do; she went to Steve’s mother’s house and introduced herself and his grandchild. Steve was away in Nairobi doing some consultancy for Film-Aid International as a program officer. That was in 2007. It was a relief for him.

One morning his phone rang while he was attending a humanitarian training course at Silver Springs. It was his brother John. He ignored the call. John called again and again. After the third call, he stepped out of the meeting room and stood at a balcony. It was 10am. The scent of garden flowers hung in the air. “Of all my brothers, we have bond, John and I, we have this connection,” he said. I picked something up in John’s voice when he said, ‘We are here at the hospital here with Kyle and he’s not doing well. He’s sick. Madhe is here, you might want to come. Take the night bus. It’s nothing serious, just get on that bus, we will take it from there when you arrive.”

He went back into the training room and sat on a cold slab of foreboding. One of the trainers – an older man – noticed his sudden change in mood and pulled him out. “Call my brother for me, ask him what’s going on,” he asked the trainer because he was now scared. John was called. The trainer shuffled away with the phone to his ear, listening, and when he came back he placed his hand on Steve’s shoulder and told him that perhaps he needed to book a bus immediately. Steve called John back and said, “if you don’t tell me what the hell is going on I won’t get into any bus.”

Suddenly his mom (they call her madhe) came on the phone. “You guy, madhe took the phone and just started singing,” he said. “She didn’t say anything to me, she just started singing one of those songs, you know those ones that are so sad? So I hung up, got my stuff, went up to my room and lay on my bed and cried for an hour. Then I took the 1pm bus. The longest bus ride in my life.” In the bus he wondered what he would tell everyone about a child they never met. He hadn’t even met Triza’s parents.

He got to the morgue at 9pm with his luggage. Kyle Mitch Otieno had been cleaned up and placed on a cold slab. “He was the same…same same guy, just lying there. The bugger could be sleeping.” He shook his head as if shaking off the memory. I asked him what he looked like. He takes a long pause. “His face was a bit strained. He died painfully. [Pause]. Knowing that he, my son, died painfully just wrecked me.”

“How’d he die?”

“Asphyxia,” he said. “The house help force fed him and he choked to death. I saw her at the morgue, crying and I wanted to lift something heavy and hit her over the head with it. I was so enraged that I think I spent all my rage at that morgue that night. I wanted her to die like my son died. I was so mad I don’t think I have the capacity to be enraged any more. I think Kyle’s death spent all my rage.”

We were drinking at Dunga Hill Camp in Kisumu last December. You should go next time you are in that neck of woods, it’s a charming makuti/outdoor bar set on a hill that overlooks the lake and the city. From the there, at dusk, when the lights come on and reflect on the lake, Kisumu looks beautiful and calm, even deceptively docile. Hippos come out onto the beach at sunset. From the perch up on the mound of hill they look like sausages. Moving sausages. They nose around in the marsh with their small feet. They make grunting sounds. Hippos are ugly but it’s an ugliness one is drawn to admire. It’s like watching a big sausage eat grass. In the horizon, the sun, an orange circle so perfect God must have drawn it thrice, descended into the straight line of the lake’s horizon. Everybody at the camp turned to stare and take pictures of it. It’s sun worship, but without the praise.

Triza – John’s wife – was there, quiet with watchful eyes. Two of my friends were with us too. The men drunk whisky. The ladies drunk chardonnay from an ice bucket. It’s hard to talk about death in December, especially death of your first child. Hell, death of any of your children. So we shelved it because Jesus was about to be born and we didn’t want to ruin his birth with sad tales. I came back to Nairobi the following day.

Recently I phoned him at 10pm and we continued to speak about Kyle for two hours. It has been ten years. The death of your child never goes away. It lingers. I asked him what kind of a boy he was.

“Handsome boy, so handsome you wouldn’t believe it. He was the kind of boy strangers would walk up to and say, “This boy is very cute!” he says. “Even though life was very tough for us at the time, he made the struggle worthwhile. It made going back into that shanty estate worth it. We didn’t see it as a struggle because we had him and because we had him and we loved him he brought us closer together.”

“What do you remember most about grief during that period?” I ask him.

He talks about going through the funeral arrangements with no feeling. He remembers friends, even those he didn’t have expectations of, surrounding him with comfort. He remembers the unfairness of knowing his son was lying in a mortuary while the sun rose and set. He remembers the surreality of choosing a coffin. How absurd was it that at 30-years he was not only burying his seven month old son, but choosing a coffin for him? How unfair God had been to him. It was a white coffin, barely the size of a hotel’s mini-fridge. On the journey to shags in Gem, it fit in the back of a station-wagon. “I had insisted on driving the car that carried my son’s remains but my brothers would hear none of it,” he says. “I remember seeing Kyle being stuffed at the back of that station wagon like luggage and thinking, “Is that my son in a box?” This was the first death in our family, I had brought death into our family and they didn’t even know Kyle.”

When he stood up to eulogise his son, his three brothers stood around him. They mobbed him, three pillars of strength, because he was the last born. “I couldn’t say anything because I was always spoken for. As the last born, I was always introduced at the end. But also I couldn’t speak because everytime I opened my mouth to say something I just cried. So I just stood there with George, John, and William.”

Kyle was buried next to his grandfather. Then they went back home to grieve as parents. They blamed each other, they comforted each other, they got closer as a couple and then they made the marriage official. They lived the way parents who had lost a child live, with days filled with pain and anger and questions and uncertainty and lying in bed not wanting to wake up and face the ghost of a gone child. “I often wondered, did my son die because I didn’t have the heart to introduce him to everybody else? Was he taken away because I showed through my reluctance and cowardice, that I didn’t deserve him, I wasn’t proud of him enough to announce him to the world?” he says over the phone. “I struggled with those questions for so long. I blamed myself.” It also affected him later as a father, “My wife will tell you that even now if I see a child choking and coughing, I scream like a woman. As in literally.”

Three months after the burial Triza got pregnant. She realised that she was pregnant three months after she buried her son. It was like a miracle. “It’s God taking with one hand and giving with another,” Steve says. “We were excited. I was away when she sent me an email with the ultrasound picture. It was a girl. A small little girl with small feet, curled there in her womb, our little saviour from the pain. It was like God had sent us a letter to say, “See? I told you it was going to be all right.” We were over the moon. There was a renewed energy with this pregnancy, it felt legit, we didn’t have to hide the baby anymore, she was going to come to a proper family that was expecting her.”

Sandra Imani Otieno thus came into a great mood of beauty and renewed hope. She came underweight. She had swallowed meconium and stayed in the nursery until she was given a clean bill of health. They took her home, little Sandra. She wheezed when she slept but the doctors told them not to worry, she would outgrow it. They fussed over Sandra because when you lose a baby, the second one comes with its own unspoken fear.

“This time round I vowed that nothing was going to happen to any of my children,” Steve says. “I was going to be there. Daddy was now here to protect her and everything was going to be just great.” Sandra hardly fed, and she didn’t sleep as well as Kyle would sleep. The wheezing also never stopped. They would take turns with her at night. Her cot was wedged against their own bed, an arm’s length away.

One night she woke up and suckled well. So well that they were surprised. She burped. Then she slept. A deep sleep that she had never before slept. Steve and Triza thought, well, look at that, this baby is healed, she has never suckled this much. They all slept an uninterrupted sleep for the first time. At 7am – unusual for them to sleep until this time- Steve woke up first. There was a lot of light in the room, he remembers. And it was quiet, that deep suspicious silence; a stealthy silence like something else was in the room, something that wasn’t supposed to be there. He turned to Sandra, who was still asleep. She wasn’t wheezing like she normally does. “Instinctively, I rolled over and touched her,” he says. “She was warm, but not that warmth of life. It was an odd warmth that I can’t describe to you, I wouldn’t know how to. I shook her and she didn’t wake up. She didn’t stir. Sandra was dead.”

Death was still in that room, he now says. It was still lingering there, with the life of his daughter in its embrace. He could feel it. He had snatched her while they slept, a cowardly act. He freaked out. He went crazy. He felt himself going crazy in the head, horror, unimaginable horror. Disbelief. Pain. Gut-cutting pain. “I woke my wife up,” he says. He woke his wife up to hold the body of her dead daughter. “I told God, why? Why would you do this to us again after such a short time? Wasn’t the pain of the first child enough for us?”

Triza did what a mother would; she tried to wake up her baby. She carried her. Rocked her. She spoke to her. She shook her cheeks, begged her to wake up. She cried. No, wailed. “Sandra, wake up, please wake up.” He stood in the middle of the bedroom crying. Helpless. Confused. He was just there, next to her and he couldn’t save her. He called his brother John. He called his aunt. Triza cradled Sandra, rocking her, feeling the last of her body heat, crying in her body. There is a unique cry that a mother who has lost her child cries. It has not been documented. It has not been captured in words. It’s a cry that transcends everything you imagine you know about loss. That’s how Triza cried.

Steve went and sat outside the house and waited for his brother, who arrived with his aunt. His aunt washed Sandra and placed her back on the cot, like she was sleeping. Sleep, little Sandra. She treated her with the dignity of the living. Little Sandra didn’t wheeze no more. For 24 hours she lay on that cot; facing up, like she was sleeping. When Steve talks about this little girl on the phone, I’m seated at my desk and all I can imagine is a scenario where one of my children doesn’t wake up the next day and their school uniform, pressed, hanging from the wardrobe and their shoes, shined, in the corridor never to be worn again, and I feel the terror of death creep into my heart. Terror.

“After the burial, my self-esteem suffered. I thought something was wrong with me, that I was a man unable to keep my children safe. I felt like I kept failing them,” he says. “I got to a point where I thought having kids was not for us. I told Triza, ‘Let’s forget this story of babies, we were not meant to be the couple that gets babies. I didn’t want to think about children.”

It’s now almost midnight. I ask him if Triza is awake and if she would be willing to talk to me for a minute. He says she is awake in the bedroom but he’s not sure if she will be okay to talk about it. “Chill I ask her,” he says. I hear a door opening. Footsteps. Another door opens. I hear him say, “Mom, you haven’t lalad?” then there is a brief muffled conversation. Triza’s probably asking, “Aii, still talking to Biko? Kwani you guys are chicks talking for over two hours? “

He comes back on, “Biko, she’s easy to talk. Here she is.”

“Trizzzaaa! How’z it? You good? Sorry about this, I know it’s late but just one quick question. It’s, uhm, about Sandra. When you lose your baby at two and a half months of age, what happens to your body? I mean because here you have a body and a mind that has transformed to bear motherhood and nurture a baby but then suddenly, well, the baby is gone. Does your body instinctively pick up on this loss and does it change in any way?”

She contemplates this and then says, “I was told that the breast milk just keeps coming even if the baby is gone but that there is a drug you can take to dry up production. I didn’t take any drug because two days after we lost the baby my milk simply stopped coming on its own. Apart from that, there is the baby weight, that doesn’t exactly go, it’s just a reminder that you had a baby and now you don’t have a baby.”

She says that the second time was tough because she started thinking that perhaps something was wrong with her. Some people theorised that maybe it was tied to some tradition, like a juju and shit. “There was a lot of talk and opinions but counselling helped me, so much so that even when I got pregnant a third time and miscarried, I coped better than I would have otherwise. Counseling helped me work on myself better, I was more positive in the end.”

It has been many years, does she think about Kyle and Sandra? I ask.

“I do.”

How often?

“Once in awhile, but when that happens it’s never with grief. It’s with positivity. All my passwords have their names,” she laughs. We speak some more, I thank her and ask her to put Steve back on the phone. She walks back to the other room and I hear her tell him, “Ba, here…”

When Steve comes on I ask him, “Ba? You are called Ba?!”

“Haha. Yes.”

“Ati Ba!” I laugh. “My goodness. Who is called Ba!” We laugh at that. But to be fair, it’s worse than being called “Baba Tim.” There are certain titles that just age you as a man. Like those women who refer to their men as “mzee.” And you wonder why some men just age quickly, one day you struggle getting out of your chair because your knees suddenly behave like they are 75-years. It’s because you are being called “mzee.”: Utaongea na mzee akirudi. Kwani hukufua ile shati ya mzee ya blue anapendanga kuvaa Friday?

They grieved over Sandra for a while. They became very close as a couple because they shared a unique narrative. They had gone through the unimaginable, so while some people drift apart to seek for answers following a loss, they drifted closer. But they grieved as separate people. He went to work in Dadaab and that distance, he says, also helped them each deal with their unique sense of loss. “She was a zombie man, that thing just messed her up. But she sought help, women seek help, us we just tough it out. We deal with it.”

And because the spirit of man to rise up against adversity is unsuppressable they took a stab at it again and got a son five years ago. They named him – wait for it – Sidi Jelani. Steve says he looks like Kyle. Reminds him of Kyle. And because they had faith in the goodness of the Lord they tried again and three years ago they got another boy and called him – wait for it again – Armani Tafari. I asked Ba if its Amani of peace or if it’s Armani, Giorgio, the designer and I think I might have insulted him because he said, “Armani the designer!” Of course, of course. I apologise. Armani Tafari sounds like the kind of teenager who will wear a beanie and write writhing poetry and make girls want to run away from home. These two boys have brought so much joy in that couple’s life. Untold joy. These boys have repaired them.

I saw the boys while Steve drove me to the airport in December to catch my flight back. They were in their mother’s car, the back windows rolled all the way down, happy and excited to see their father’s car and calling out to their father as we overtook them. I remember that they were very good looking boys. Steve smiled piously and said, “Yes, those are my boys. Very hectic young men.” By the way, Steve now runs a tour and travel company called Crane Tours and Travel. If you are in Kisumu for work and you need cars – from saloons to 4X4s for the Nyanza region call this guy up on 0716 000 346. He’s good peoples, known him for dogs’ years.

Jelani and Tafari have filled the hurt and pain of losing Kyle and Sandra. They haven’t replaced them because children aren’t pieces of art you can replace from the shelves, but they filled the spaces of hurt and loss. I asked Triza how losing two babies informed the kind of mother she is now and she said she is constantly learning how to walk the line between loving and being over-protective. “Of course I never want to make similar mistakes I think I might have made before. I choose the house helps with more caution…but now raising my sons is more than just love, it’s appreciation that they are here.”

“Do Kyle and Sandra come to you in dreams?” I ask Steve.

“Kyle doesn’t come to me in dreams because I think there was closure. Kyle was buried in Gem, where his people are, next to his grandfather, he is amongst his people. He belongs. You know what I mean? As in I can go to shags now and stand at his grave and say here lies my son.”

“Where is Sandra buried kwani?”

His voice grows small. “At the cemetery in Kisumu.”

“Why?” I ask.

“We didn’t want to go through the whole process again. We had been through so much and my girl died so suddenly and so young, man. So we opted to bury her at the cemetery which is a horrible place to bury someone. But we did it at that time because….[pause] it was just too much, things were happening fast and it was exhausting, plus we felt at that time like, I don’t know, that she was young…” He trails off. “If I went to look for my daughter’s grave tomorrow, I’d not be able to find it. That cemetery in Mamboleo is a chaotic place. [Pause] I wouldn’t be able to find the grave. I went some time back…and it was gone.”

I find this so sad and helpless. I find it sad and helpless because that’s the mood I feel on the phone from him.

“Do you have regrets,“ I ask him, “I mean, would you bury her in shags or at the cemetery if you were to do this all over again?”

“Shags. No doubt, man,” he says without hesitation. “I wouldn’t even think about it! I think the reason why she comes to my dreams quite a bit is because I have not had closure. I never did.” He pauses and then says, “I feel bad of course…I feel bad that I made that decision at that time…. and it’s not easy knowing that my little girl is out there in a mass cemetery, in a grave lying next to strangers, people I don’t know….a grave I can’t even stand at. I feel like we abandoned her.”

I stop the interview there. We say goodnight. I lie in bed and I think of his beautiful boys and then I think of Sandra, not Kyle who lies amongst his people. I think of little Sandra alone in a cemetery and of her father’s haunted words: “I feel like we abandoned her.” And I hope he finds peace. I hope little Sandra rests well knowing that her father will never forget her even though he can’t find her grave because her real grave will always be in his heart.

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    1. Its amazing what Pain can do to human souls. For now In case you are writing about infants death please share a warning. I cant deal for now

      1. Characters who embrace pain willingly and courageously, who don’t pay attention to the shame and talk around them about their ” curse” end up turning a most painful story into an unforgettable one! They take you places you’ve never been before and introduce you to emotions you’ve never felt before..

    1. Is it possible for you to read what the story is all about instead of rushing to say, first? Your comment is an insult to the story above.

      1. Rubiey, live and let live. I don’t know why you are so angry at Faith. If she waited patiently for the blog to be uploaded so that she would be the first to comment, good for her. She got her high. High five to her. As for you, what is it to you? Does her comment really devalue or insult the content of the post? No!
        Look, I’m sure Faith has read the article and drawn just about as much from it as you have. As have I. As have all other ‘commenters’ and silent readers. So, if all you got from it is anger that Faith declared that she is the first to comment then well….. pole kwako. Also, this happens every Tuesday. Get used to it already. Faith has done nothing wrong.

        Faith, keep doing you 🙂

        1. “keep doing you…” What an embarrassing cliche! You’re the people promoting mediocrity and idiocy in the name of “being you”. Whatever that means.

          1. Absolutely……..there’s a time and place for such idle vacous thrills; today and this post certainly are not it

        2. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature and the tenacious reminder that death will always rob us someone.
          “I hope little Sandra rests well knowing that her father will never forget her even though he can’t find her grave because her real grave will always be in his heart.”

        3. I am forever late.
          I applaud all those who beat me to comment first.
          I really see no issue with someone commenting they are first.
          I am with you on this one.

        4. From a mother who has lost her babies, Faith’s comment was an insult to this story. And all those comments of feeling achieved to be first at commenting. Context should always matter.

      2. Whenever I read these stories so somberly told, I dread reaching the end only to see an idiotic comment like ‘first’ or ‘first to comment’!! What’s wrong with these people. I wonder if they read the story at all, so thank you for saying out what most normal people think.

      3. Let the commenter rest in peace… Do not be offended by life. Imagine commenting first made her day? Stop abandoning Faith… Faith, Congrats…

  1. I will read this later in the evening, as I take some tea in a restaurant and savor the magic of the story told. I am just here to say that I love Biko’s writing ! they trigger a sense of humanity and purposeful learning!

    Thank you Biko ! I don’t this space for granted!

  2. Some people go through soo much in life, but again everything happens for a reason and you never given anything beyond your strength.

  3. “She didn’t tell him when she was pregnant because she wasn’t sure how he would react. Plus she didn’t want to make him feel like he had to step up now that he was locked into this thing. So she said boo, until she was seven months pregnant. “

  4. so happy they got children. its just heartbreaking losing a child .May God keep Jelani and Tafari safe and since He is also the giver, it would be great reading you got a surprise girl in the future and may the peace he seeks – fill his heart.It is well.

  5. Been in that situation once Biko,the thought of your baby choking and then lying lifeless

    Months later you ask yourself why did i choose a public cemetry…………………….and closure has never come,more so if once in a while you have to drive past the cemetry

  6. Goodness me! This story is sad, painful, dark, hopeful all at the same time. I’m happy that they became closer and not more distant as is the case with most couples and that Triza sought professional help too. I’m also reminded to be thankful for my life and not complain about trivial issues. This life is a blessing

  7. Am sitting here,reading this and am literally snot crying. Oh my. Such a strong couple. I can not even begin to imagine the loss and the grief…and the guilt? Great piece,Biko.

  8. What a heartbreaking ordeal. Am glad the couple grew closer. Their positivity is inspiring. Thanks Biko for such an amazing piece!

  9. One of my work friends lost her unborn last year and she waited until the close of the year to tell some of us.
    The same day I asked you about how to spend the last day, well,I chose to spend it with her and a bunch of others. Funny thing is, I didn’t even like her before and at that time we all assumed she was just slacking of from work for about two weeks, she never paid attention to her tasks, always had this nonchalant attitude and talked back to her supervisor. Turns out her baby died inside of her, for a month she came to work on medication (it works to dilate her cervix so the remains of her baby would come out), basically for a month she was bleeding heavily in “mini labour” and with a dilated cervix, pieces of her baby oozing out of her… struggling to just live.

    No one knew.
    She was alone, suffering and we all thought she was just lazy.

    1. The miscarriage is a deep deep loss. But to go through a month bleeding, losing your unborn child bit by bit everyday is gut wrenching sad. To go for a month reminded of your loss is beyond bearable. May God give her peace and closure

    2. I Can’t imagine having to go through that alone. With people sneering at you and giving you shit about some paper pushing. While you carry your baby in your tummy for a month. Not waiting to hear the first cry but to come out in bits.

      I can’t imagine having to answer some bullshit questions from some petty colleague while your insides are thawing in pain. I would love to hear what drove her. What enabled her to get through that.

      I would understand why she kept it to herself though. She needed to keep herself occupied lest she went crazy with thoughts. Averting the sympathy from colleagues. And the words meant to be comforting but end up hurting more. Like “You will conceive again”

      My heart goes out to her. My heart goes out to Ba & Trizah. Such Pain

      1. That really got me. The many time we have been presumptuous and judgmental not thinking of the grief of others.

    3. OMG. thats horrible you never really know what people are going through and its worse at work because you have to pretend to be ok

    4. May we be forgiven for the times we have judged or misjudged others. Good that you took time to listen and be with her.

    5. Wow! May we always remember to be kinder to people, to actually listen for the spoken and unspoken response to our casual greetings, and most of all, may we be present always.

    6. Strangely, we are so quick to pass judgement on someone’s behaviour. I bet if we all wore our struggles on our sleeves, no one would ever be unkind.

    7. This is the saddest thing I’ve heard. I hope God gives her lots and lots of joy after such sadness. Makes me realize that I shouldn’t make conclusions about people.

  10. I felt the pain of this couple. It’s just bad! Anyway, glad God has filled their home with the warmth of children again!

  11. life is God given. Man can only live by God’s favor. Comfort and closure also only comes from him.Give thanks for your living kids and pray for your future offsprings to find favor from Him.
    Thanks Biko

  12. May Kyle and Sandra rest in eternal peace. Sometimes I think I have seen shit in this life, only to read such stories and realize that I have never experienced anything yet.

  13. The strength it takes to hold onto hope and to keep eyes peeled for the possibility of a glimpse of light amidst all the darkness. It usually is worth it at the end. They have such beautiful and unique names for their babies. 🙂

  14. There is a unique cry that a mother who has lost her child cries. It has not been documented. It has not been captured in words. It’s a cry that transcends everything you imagine you know about loss.

    This hit me hard.

    Death is ugly. Am glad they are happy now.

    1. Death is truly ugly. I knees went weak as I thought of waking up to lifeless Sandra. Space helps cope alot!
      I am just truly happy they grew closer and found the strength to try again.

      Biko can we leave Fred and his name

    2. I can imagine that cry. I have come close but not enough. The pain is real. The questions are numerous and answers never forthcoming. You think of the things you could have done to avert it. You blame yourself for sleeping that night. You blame yourself for letting the baby just lie there.

      Then there was that song that you heard while baby’s soul was departing. Or when you realized it was gone. You hear it and the feelings come flooding in. The loss again.

      The pain of losing a baby.

  15. Biko, there are some profound lessons to learn from loss and grief and even beauty. You my man have mastered the art of delivering those lessons through your writing. Thank you for this piece

  16. Sad, very sad. I like that they eventually have two young men. I pray too that he finds closure, peace with Sandra. Yes..”her real grieve will forever be in his heart”.

  17. I read this article with apprehension since i just gave birth and i’ve come to the conclusion that all we can do as parents is just commit our kids to God for his protection and favor and do the best we can. Will things go awry sometimes? Sure; but we live and learn.
    Happy that this couple got other blessings.

  18. I read the first paragraphs and hoped that the storo would not include death. Or be about death. I haven’t recovered from the one about a guy that buried many of his wives. It sank my heart to my feet. I know the stories end with delight but still difficult to read through such painful experiences. Anyway at the end of this I am delighted. ‘Ba is all good!’. I guess the succor for all of us is that dark and distasteful days will not last. There are only good things. Like Hippos in the sunset. Ama is it ‘big sausages eating grass’.

    1. There are things you read and forget. Numerous things. Ther are other things you read and stay with you forever. They are always at the back of your mind. Stories of loss are some of those. Multiple losses never get forgotten. I still remember that guy in the industrial area.
      I ask the questions for them. The “Why?” questions.

      It feels me with terror. I ask “What if it was I? What Can I do to avert such?” and feel helpless.

  19. He grieved the loss of his son that his future grieving self has never grieved like that ever again.

    Truly heartfelt. I can’t even begin to fathom the pain of loosing a child. But joy comes in the morning. With Jelani and Tafari. Beautiful names at that. Beautiful boys as well.

    My heart goes out to them in joy and hope.

  20. Death comes with pain that can’t be explained, it is like a bad dream. Am glad they came out stronger and closer to take care of the sons thay have.

  21. Sure, children are not pieces you just replace in a shelf. You never forget them. May God fill their family with peace and warmth.

  22. Reading this I get terrified… And thank God for giving me the presence of mind to wait till my boy woke up this morning and gave me a high five and kissed his sister good bye as she still slept.

  23. I use Steve’s service. I didn’t know his story. Yaani they have lived 3 adult lives yet we are agemates. Sobbed so hard Waa. Pole

  24. Oh Dear Lord… Oh God… I usually do not read your posts about hurt or dead children. That right there is my worst fear. But, I couldn’t tell what this would be about from the beginning. Once I found out, I couldn’t stop. I had to know that they were halfway to fine at the very least.
    All I can say is God give them peace. Losing a close person leave alone a child is akin to having your finger nails pulled out every time you think of them. I cannot find the appropriate words to comfrot them or even say in this situation. Just…woi

    1. Yeah… Biko was deceptive today. I read on, and even when things started souring,I couldn’t stop. It felt like watching a horror movie.

  25. Even as much as I have learnt no child replaces the other, I am glad God has given them other children and given them hope in the midst of all the losses. May the boys grow in Gods favor and love.

  26. “All my passwords have their names,” – This hit me right through the gut.

    I know the pain of losing a loved one. More so of burying one. I am glad they are now healed (not fully i know)

    Good luck to Steve and Triza.

  27. This is like us….11 years ago…Sammy Davis was with us for 24 hours. Then he left. No one tells you how it’s like to be left by your own child. His death has kept us together 13 year down the road. Then Nissi came along, 9 years now. And while I know God is good, I have asked Him, begged Him not take Nissi away. He’s been kind. Nissi will be 10 in not too long. God is good. I bet Steve & Triza know this now.

  28. I wish I didn’t know the kind of pain that they have gone through but I do. Biko, that pain threatens your whole existence and you question everything….My partner and I couldn’t cope with the grief.I choose to believe God is taking care of my little angel and that is what helps me sleep at night.

  29. I can’t imagine losing a child…I have just looked at my daughter’s photo and I can’t imagine a life without her now for Steve and his wife to lose two children…that is an imaginable pain that can’t be explained…pole sana kwao….

    Sandra’s burial in a public cemetry… I can sooo relate to it. We buried our dad at Langata Cemetry in 1996 because he was a foreigner and we dint have any land yet and it pains me to date that I can’t even visit his grave because it’s amongst others and to top it off the only memory I have of him now is one of his photos and his Master’s degree paper. Yes we had no option at that time but I know he understood us. Daddy, pole…we still love you and we know you are still with us. Sleep well daddy till we meet again!!!!

  30. Biko…how do you interview and write all these words without breaking down…..people go through so much …….thank you for your stories they enlighten and entertain me as well

  31. Biko you make me cry for Steve. This life ……..sometimes its so unfair, just as Steve wondered how the sun rises and sets when one is so sad has happened to me time and again.

    Am glad at the end of it God gave them joy once more, and the fact that they stuck together to the end is a blessing.

  32. Soo sad but with a good ending
    When i read of Sandra not waking nimeshikwa na kaubaridi i had to go and check on my son who was sleeping.
    May they find peace and comfort

  33. When you lose a baby,here’s what happens, you cry, you question God, you stop eating, you get tired of people telling you that they feel your pain, you don’t want to meet people who saw you while pregnant and didn’t hear about your child’s death because you don’t want to tell them that your child died. There’s a guy who used to sell me oranges at the market when I was pregnant he still asks about my girl….I just can’t bring myself to tell him that she died. The feeling of lose never goes away but gets better when you have other kids and panic sets in anytime your kid sleeps a lot or doesn’t cry like usual…..In short you panic every time. But God works in mysterious ways you get another kid that is always healthy

    1. So true.I also lost my first two boys.It made me doubt God.It also changed my relationship with my husband.I usually think that the part about ‘Till death do us part’ applied because though we are still together,we parted in a way I can’t explain when our second son died.And this is what happened when my 15 months old second son died,I started bleeding immediately even though I was not on my p’s.And I also had to take that anti-milk tabs to dry the flow.
      But I am thankful for my living children.

  34. “I hope little Sandra rests well knowing that her father will never forget her even though he can’t find her grave because her real grave will always be in his heart.”

    What an ending.
    I hope he digs up the grave in his heart to heal properly, so that he can find peace, and bury the pain in a befitting manner. Steve didn’t abandon her, his heart is just stuck on the memory of Sandra.

  35. Truly heartfelt and the fact that the mother shares my name made it terrifying ;the thought of losing a child let alone two parts of you. I could not possibly fathom the exact pain the parents went through but going through this article gave me an understanding of the same. It’s painful and I do pray Steve finds peace and with the birth of the two lads, joy and hope continues to fill their hearts. God will preserve ,protect and strength them.

  36. My cousin lost her baby yesterday. She is raw and in pain. She looks at the pictures and cries silently, painfully. The type of cry that makes you embarrassed to witness. I feel for her. The baby was her first, she had been looking forward to it. The burial is Thursday or Friday, at Langata. After reading this, I wish I could convince her to bury her at home. But how do you broach such a topic while she is still so raw, while the milk in her breasts is still flowing? I feel broken.

  37. Parenting is scary. Very scary. Very very scary. My little boy, 4 years old at the time was hit by a van and dragged quite a distance (had his forehead and the scalp taken off his head). God was with that boy. Now 8 years old, I look at him and I wonder how I went through it, people still ask me how and I don’t know what to say. The grisly accident scene, the ambulance, the crowd, the police, the wailing women, the passers by who rushed him to the nearby hospital for emergency, the rush against time to Agakhan hospital, the ambulance siren still rings into my head. That day January 14th will forever remain a memory in my mind! It’s Almost four years down the line, 5 corrective surgeries, non-stop prayers, millions of shillings spent, and of course a chubby boy has been born after him. That’s life. I still want to strangle that school van driver, that idiot who is also a parent and was in such a rush that morning at 6.00a.m, God I told him to never ever cross my path until the day I’m buried into the grave. God has been faithful!

  38. I read this and all that was in my mind was please don’t take my son away. I’ll be good I promise I’ll even let the father be and not provide. I know its selfish but I don’t know if I could ever recover from it

  39. My cousin lost her son and the few that knew couldn’t understand why she was withdrawn from everyone. She was still being congratulated on the birth of her son which broke her every single time her phone beeped. I remember taking her to her work place to ask for more leave days. Her boss was so excited for her and I watched her pain as she told him that the baby was gone.
    I hope Ba and Mom find peace. I cannot understand their pain but I empathise.

  40. This story killed me i cried in the office reading it!!! as a parent i cant imagine losing a child.i used to think people with kids just say that but now when i look at my baby i know id be shattered if anything happened to her. worse still am a working mum which means i have to leave my child in the hands of a stranger ,it gives me such anxiety i cant imagine how you forgive the house girl even though you know accidents happen and she also has to leave with the fact that she contributed to someone elses child dying its all so heavy. may God protect out children for it is he who gives and takes

  41. Sad, really sad. I found this video useful for those who may be grieving..

    @Biko, keep writing!

  42. All things good and pure float up to make heaven. Sandra is in the safest of places despite where she was put to rest. I pray Steve finds peace with this knowledge. God bless them

  43. Do people ever feel guilty for commenting ‘first’ before even reading and connecting with the story. It pisses me when i am looking forward to read a powerful comment that connects with the story and all I get is a dry ‘first’. Nkt! It’s like seeing food without soup in the dish.

  44. This story is sad, and painful in all extremes. I feel horrible for that couple. My heart goes out to them. Fortunately they have each other and got those two boys.

  45. Ooo my! May God continue conforting this family. No one should ever burry their loved one and much more a child. #sniffles#

  46. Wuololo, I know Steve however I didn’t know his story until now. May God continue to comfort them as a family…. Kudos to Steve for being so courageous to share his story.

  47. Burying your child is a pain that can never be described.Sometimes I feel God gave kids grace to bury their parents,its painful but a natural course of life(May your Mum continue resting in peace Biko)…however burying your child….it is unbearable.As a mother, its a pain I ask God to protect me from.Its (sigh) devastating.
    Just the way I saved ‘the pillows lady’ contact, am saving ‘Ba Sandra’s… I will link up with him to support his business.

  48. Sometimes I think that grief is such a prison that no one can understand… How do you understand the loss of another person?? Sounds strange even!!! But love the spirit of trying in the couple and the fact that a man must rise above all adversities…

  49. “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
    ― Anne Lamott

  50. Death! Then another death! Then a miscarriage! What the hell!
    I don’t know if I’d have had any will to try again after that chain of events. I might have given up at just two feet away from where the diamonds lay.
    Thanks to you guys I now have a real life experience I can always look back to whenever the chips are down.

  51. Death is a thief, gives no notice, but love overcame this theft. So glad Steve and Triza stuck it through and despite their painful loss were able to have two wonderful sons. I wish them happy memories and always keep the faith.
    The sun will always set and a new dawn arise. Keep doing what you do have magic

  52. I feel for Steve and Triza…it pains , hurts so much when u can not find their graves in a public cemetery …i know, been there…went to Langata..could not find the graves of both of my babies…Angel and Isaac!

    But i know that i will see them in heaven!

  53. then I think of Sandra, not Kyle who lies amongst his people. I think of little Sandra alone in a cemetery and of her father’s haunted words: “I feel like we abandoned her.”

    These words got to me
    Raw, honest and unnerving… you are gifted Biko

  54. I was binge reading the previous posts over the weekend and today I was reading The Black Prince. I found myself crying in the matatu all the way to town and now just as I’m about to leave the office I read this post. More sorrow. My heart goes out for Kylie and Sandra. Gone too young. I don’t know why God would take away blessings in the form of a child. Yes he blessed them again but the sorrow lives on in their hearts.

    Biko amidst it all you manage to bring out your funny wits. We should research and find out where the word “Mzee” came from. How does one go from calling one baby, honey sweetheart and all of those sweet names to mzee??? Surely it is wrong in so many ways. At least call him by his name. Talk of getting old in marriage and kuzoeana haha.

  55. Shame on me for expecting a post on Veve upon seeing the twig pic…….Steve and Triza, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ continue filling the gap left by Sandra and Kyle.

  56. Thanks Biko for this story , it sheds light on overcoming grief and is also a great lesson on not giving up and appreciating God’s blessing

  57. Today it’s Ba. Then there was Black Prince. Emotional very emotional. I feel for Steve and Sandra. The loneliness in a deserted soul. May Sandra rest in peace.

  58. I cried during my lunch break when I was reading this. I wanted to read as I expressed milk for my four month old. This tore at the very core of my heart. I whispered a silent prayer for my kids. They are my life. I am raising them alone and I can’t imagine losing them. God, this puts into perspective how much I take for granted.
    Kylie and Sandra look out for each other up in heaven. She is not alone Ba.

  59. A deep sigh of relief that there’s a happy ending, that there is a source of much joy after the tribulations.Strength, peace and happiness to Ba and the family

  60. As a mother, I cannot comprehend the pain of losing a child. Everyday I pray that I die before my children and before my mother. because those two people would break my hear!!!

  61. I hope Triza and Steve realize that they are a match made in heaven. The trials have brought them together that doesn’t happen everyday for most couples.

  62. It’s taken me three days to read the story to the end.

    First day I left it off at the conference.

    Then when Ma was talking about breast milk.

    Then today I fidgeted to the end.

    Showers of blessings to the family

  63. Sad.
    Biko is a screen writer. Please, upgrade your editor in chief. I hate reading through spelling mistakes and run-on sentences.

  64. Such a sad story. I am happy they triumphed over death. Death robs so many couples of their marriages, but not Steve and Triza. May Kyle and Sandra rest in peace. Beautiful babies gone too soon.

    When you described Triza’s cry, I got it. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing a child.

  65. No matter what we go through, God’s grace is sufficient. He alone holds our destinies and those of our loved ones. It is well to Triza and Steve.

  66. Thanks Biko,Am a father of four and such stories have shaped my life so much I thank God for my children and appreciate its not for granted.They make me work even harder.Nice ,educative and inspirational.

  67. Such an inspiring story can only come from a place of strength. At some point in the story I wondered, “Was the couple strong enough to have children again?” I was glad to find out that they were!

    Steve and Triza are an inspiration not only to those who have lost a child but also to those who have lost what can never be recovered. For instance, road accident victims. Only imagine the ordeal of picking up a life without your limbs!

    Biko, if you have not done such a story, consider adding it to your to-do list.

    A side note: your editors do a good job Biko, but in my opinion, they need a keener eye. So I am offering you editing services. Kindly email me at [email protected]

  68. Biko,
    Excellent read. Do you write literature books? They would sell like hot cake. If the above is a true story then its an inspiration to many. It’s patience, trust in God and true love reloaded.

  69. Dear Steve

    I knew you when you were in Kakuma. My heart goes out to you and your wife. I’m glad you found peace and happiness again <3

  70. These days I read the articles watching out for scary stuff! I couldn’t finish this one, soo sad, the 40 series had enough scary tales as well. Aaai yawa! Waiting for next week I hope I’ll laugh.

  71. That story is sad…I hope one day Steve will get closure. And I’m glad that their experience brought them closure.

    Also, it’s amazing how you tell stories. That was a good read.

  72. I feel Kyle and Sandra are living in Amani and Cidy. Life could sometimes turn cruel but we all leave it to God and we shouldn’t forget prayers every single day. Im really humbled on the way Steve and Trizah comforted one another during the hard times. May God guide you all through.

  73. Ooooo boy…. This is too sad…Tears are a language God understands….And even then Children are a gift from God…

    God bless baba and Mama Sandra and Kyle…

    My heart tore to pieces while reading this

  74. I managed to bravely read the story and even smiled when you got to his two sweet boys but simply broke down when I got to the part about Sandra’s grave and her being lost in the cemetery…couldn’t hold back the years. Thanks for sharing these stories Biko, in a way that only you can. All the best to Steve and Trizah, may God continue to cover your house and your children.

  75. I have cried through the whole story, and i still cry when i think of it….. I may not know exactly how it feels, but i pray they find peace in their heats. It was’t destined for one to bury their own child…. this is really sad.

  76. Good job Biko! always looking forward to the next story.I felt their loss and grieved with them, You have indeed gifted.

  77. This one is for tears. Waah, as a mother this is my worst nightmare. Parents should not bury their kids 🙁 God’s peace to Steve and Trizah. My best to your family

  78. Wow this is really sad story:-( it reminds me of Black Prince Biko wrote sometimes last year it was heart wrenching.

    Pole sana to Steve & Triza God has a reason for everything that happens, sad thing is we can never question him:-(

  79. In the end…there is no greater fear than the fear of a man being an irresponsible father…at least that feeling in your head can never let you be.But the smile of a sweet little angel will soon descend in Steve’s soul.All in all, a good read.

  80. Reading this I felt a pain I cant explain………the hand of God will always stretch to bless you……..Steve and Trizah may God always be with you

  81. Couldn’t finish reading this one Biko.Got tears in my eyes half way through.No parent should have to bury a child,leave alone two . .But thanks for this.You never know how blessed you are until you come across such suffering

  82. This story stirs up all sorts of feels within me. Happiness that Ba and Triza have overcome all their pain and loss and have found joy in their family. Sadness at the lost of a child. Fear that I may lose my child. This is one of my biggest fears.Losing my spouse or my child (who I don’t even have btw) and hope… Hope that as uncertain our future seems to be we’ll be okay if we hold on to hope.
    Will send a prayer into the universe for their happiness, health and safety.

  83. They never stopped trying. Two babies and a miscariage. May God bless them more. And the the hansome with beautiful’ names even more.

  84. Very sad, but I am glad that there is a happy ending. This story reminds me of the one where one man lost quite a number of wives, but kept the faith

  85. This is a sadly beautiful life story. This couple is a real definition of resilience. May Joy never escape them again. Biko, why the picture of the Autumn leaves?

  86. I rank with the one who need to be warned. “The following piece is for the strong at heart” kind of warning. That part about Moon and God drawing it thrice is great. The story is so sad yet enticing. The mastery at telling it as usual is great.

  87. Triza cradled Sandra, rocking her, feeling the last of her body heat, crying in her body. There is a unique cry that a mother who has lost her child cries. It has not been documented. It has not been captured in words. It’s a cry that transcends everything you imagine you know about loss. That’s how Triza cried.
    Biko am still crying there is no pain compared to losing a child.

  88. May the souls of Kyle and Sandra continously Rest in Peace
    @ Biko, this is a very nice peace but so heartwrenching….I almost shed tears at some point…

  89. I feel the parents pain as I belong to the same club as them. But just to point out, Triza and Steve lost three babies, not two. The baby who was miscarried was a baby and deserves to be recognised as one.

  90. At some point..I didn’t understand death. But after reading Biko’s pieces on death…i just can’t fathom this much pain. Its like pain multiplied by a lot of pain. But I thank God who gifted you with the art of putting the unprintable emotions into words. For me, this sad pieces are your best pieces yet.

  91. Very well written for such a sad piece. It’s comforting to know that sometimes tragedy can draw people closer. I’m happy that they now have two boys.

  92. I’m one of those people that cry when they read a novel, watch a movie, listen to a song…..reading this in my office and had to run for a “bathroom break”.
    Good reading Biko, I don’t know how you manage to throw in some humor in while bringing out the emotions in a story.

  93. Triza and Steve may you find true peace knowing that both Kyle and Sandra are at rest in the Father’s arms irrespective of their earthly graves.
    Deep one Mzee Biko

  94. Triza and Steve may you find true peace knowing that both Kyle and Sandra are at rest in the Father’s arms irrespective of their earthly graves.
    Deep one Mzee Biko
    Losing a child wah……..

  95. Biko! You took my emotions all the way down to the ground. Then when you started talking about the 2 boys, they bloomed back like a flower. I don’t know how I would have felt of they stopped at the miscarriage.

  96. The pain of losing a child is indescribable, the English language does not have a term for a parent that has buried a child, it cannot be summarized and condensed into a singly word.

  97. Aki Biko…this is such a sad but inspiring story. I am a little sad that you didn’t explore the miscarriage bit. That too is an ambiguous loss that very few people understand. Maybe you can explore that niche and talk to women who have suffered miscarriages and how everyone tells them to move on. But otherwise all the best to the lovely couple and I am glad that their children bring them so much joy.

  98. Because her real grave will always be in his heart. I salute this couple. May God use you to uplift other parents going through the same. And well noted on the contact when in Kisumu.

  99. Sad about Kyle and Sandra may their souls continue resting in peace, but in the fullness of His time God makes everything perfect. See there goes the two lovely boys.. No one understands the pain of loosing a child better, than the mother whose lost one…

  100. With pain comes disillusion,questions,fears and anxieties but yet again in the midst of such great pain the couple faced,there was a bright light shining in there.

    Quite sobbering.

  101. Ba, I pray that God’s peace and healing comes your way. Sandra knows that daddy loves her. As someone once said, may God allow you to mourn in waves…so gently so that it doesn’t crash you.

    To all parents who have lost their children, may God be your comfort and ever present help. amidst the turmoil, let peace prevail. I am so sorry for your loss.

    No wonder I read this in my bedroom. I am always cautious and intentional when opening this blog. Because Biko sneaks up on you and takes you on his journey, you can’t turn back and walk away. And every time, every piece, literally every word, travels miles. What a gift Biko

  102. You know how human beings cope with challenges / pain?

    They give them names. Child who looses parents = orphan. Wife who looses husband = widow. Husband who looses wife = widower.

    The human mind has never and will never deal with the loss of a child…………..that’s why there is no name for a parent who has lost their child.

    To Ba and Triza……….thank you for sharing your story.

  103. I don’t know what the couple might have been going through after loss of two kids, but I am glad God blessed them with two other kids. I wish them well.

  104. oh my! I have cried like a banshee! I can’t deal. I keep thinking of our precious ones! Oh how I will hold them and love on them!

  105. There is a unique cry that a mother who has lost her child cries. It has not been documented. It has not been captured in words. It’s a cry that transcends everything you imagine you know about loss. – This broke my heart:-(
    It is my prayer that i never have to cry like that, because i will age like wine and my children will bury me.

  106. I chose this story because the title seems interesting…little did I know where it was headed…I literally felt pain like a blunt knife tearing through my skin as I read about love, loss, regret and joy as well. No parent deserves to go through this, yet it happens aki