Brother Julius

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Somehow we are still here. Some aren’t so lucky. Some are breathing through tubes in hospitals and will spend Christmas listening to the beeping sounds of machines. Others are making plans to bury loved ones who lie in cold morgues. Some won’t have two coins to rub together. Yet, we are still here. It’s enough yet we are buried so deep in the debris of life we forget to gaze at the beauty of the sky, even a starless one. 

I hope you had a good year. And if you didn’t I hope you don’t look at the new year with jaundiced eyes. I hope your children are fine and they actually like you. I hope your wives and husbands still find your snoring bearable. I hope your grandparents’ arthritis isn’t too painful this season. I hope you get the courage to do everything you plan to do next year and that we conquer the demons of procrastination. 

I hope I see you guys here again next year. I appreciate you reading (even if you are still planning on buying my new book).]

I asked my brother, Julius, to close this year with a word of prayer seeing us as he gets older he gets deeper and deeper in church and spirituality. We shall call him Brother Julius. 

Brother Julius, please close this joint with a word. 

Oh, you know the rules. The last one to leave switches off the lights, we don’t have enough tokens to keep the lights on throughout the season. 

Happy holidays, gang. Remember to give to the needy. 

Brother Julius…

 

***

 

By Julius Ougo

There had been a general lull in the El Nino rains at the advent of December. The lull before the storm? The morning of Wednesday the 13th was overcast, and some areas in Nairobi had woken up to showers, or even storms. Yet, on my way to work, in the ubiquitous pre 8 am traffic, spanning Bellevue to Nyayo stadium, life is on the move. Our brothers and sisters scurry across the road from one side to the other headed to work, no one has time for the safety of the flyovers. Near misses are the order of the morning because that is how life must pan out. Someone is always in harm’s way. A hawker here and there chasing after a car moving in traffic, either in a quest to convince a disinterested driver to purchase her wares or running after her change because the policewoman at the roundabout let out the traffic just before she closed a deal. Her, because consistently, over the last few years, the winds changed direction, and more and more women joined the streets to eke out a living, in the punishing vagaries of weather. Joy and more pain became the key ingredients of their lives.

There are varied opinions, research findings, and medical predictions on the life expectancy of those born with sickle cell anaemia. Despite the same, there is this school of thought that gained a lot of currency, scientifically proven or not, that those afflicted at birth would be lucky to go past their eighteenth birthday. Some, steeped in faith like me, are always hoping that once in a while these scientifics can be turned in their head, that the power of God can overwrite science, and indeed, it does in some instances, yet it does not in many others too. And this morning is one such instance. At the crack of this dawn, one of my in-laws has just checked into the house, after a jarring night. You raise a son, and you know he has a condition, one hurdle after another, night after night of hospital admissions, you keep triumphing, because he gets admitted and gets discharged after a day or two. Milestone after milestone, we inch upwards, we grow, the boy goes through primary school, you keep hope alive, you pray, you hope against hope because, in your heart, any moment could still be his last. Yet his last does not come. Not yet.

We proceed to high school, keeping up the rigour, and your son hits puberty and passes it, and the hospital becomes part of your life it no longer is a hustle. God has been kind. But no one knows what feelings of fear, doubt, and uncertainty swirl through you, day in and day out. Because every day when you wake up, you must exude confidence, give him hope. The only light that must shine on your face is the bright one, even though the one inside you is fluttering or long dead. Your son soon hits and surpasses all the milestones, goes to college, and even graduates, and you adore this beautiful photo of him in a graduation gown. Just like any other child living without a medical condition, he joins the ranks, and now has a phone and accounts on social media, is exuberant, self-confident, and forward-looking. We approach the declared age of 18 and pass it. The number 18, beyond which if he survives, then the gods will have been merciful. In your private moments, you pray. In those same private moments, a voice tells you that you must not delude yourself, you consume real data of survival rates beyond eighteen, the statistics give little hope, and you are at a loss on how to balance faith and science. This becomes your life during those eighteen years, and beyond, A life of intense love for your son, and the forever lingering fear in your heart that you might, or worse still, will lose him. Yet again, because God peers through our hearts and thoughts, we do not want to anger him, if he should see your uncertainty, your self-doubt, that he will heal your son. Ye of little faith. That is the life you live.

Over the last 22 years, we have always been getting blood donors and doing transfusion after transfusion, a factor that has greatly contributed to the longevity of life that he has had. Of late, the transfusions were getting largely unsuccessful, in the sense that his blood rejected them, but other than that, while originally getting the right match blood was a given, now, and all of a sudden, it became an uphill task, like fate is conspiring against us. We were now enduring prolonged periods of no donors, during which time, our lives teetered on the brink of faith, hope, and prayer.

It is slightly a week or so to Christmas, the year of our Lord 2023, and we are again in the hospital. We have done this over the years and perfected it, and anyway, there is nothing untoward in our admission this time compared to the previous instances. Because of the advancement of medical science, our small problem of lack of blood has been mitigated through an injection that regenerates the red blood cells. We will be out in a day or two. By evening we are fine and even manage to have dinner. At the stroke of midnight, like an earthquake, the first heart attack devastates us, but we manage to be resuscitated. In rapid succession, between the period of 1 am to 2 am, we are wracked by two other consequent heart attacks that leave us reeling. I am numb in pain and emptiness. I sit next to his bed to avoid my buckling knees from sending me to the floor. The doctors try to resuscitate us, and I watch in total angst and raw pain. I am rallying myself, I am rallying him, “We have done it before Reuben, we have, let us do it again”. Then 23 years of being strong, showing up, transfusions, and love come tumbling down, and I break down and cry. I forget that there are other patients in that same ward. I cry. The cleaners join me, I have never known them before, but this morning we are bound by the unraveling debilitating grief, they join me and we cry, because this one more time, my son could not be resuscitated, this was his last. I sit there desolate at 2 am, with no one other than the strangers united with me in grief. They ask me where my people, my relatives are, or whether I even have any, maybe because, in most final moments at the hospital, there are almost always a few people with the bereaved. “We have always been the two of us,” you feel like saying, but even the words are lost in that poignant moment. My brothers, in a strange twist of fate, and a testimony to how forces of life can align/misalign, and of all the mornings, are all out of town or the country, for work, for one thing or another. That is how I lost my son of 23 years. That is how and why I would be returning home alone this time round, having lost this battle, consumed in burning grief, my heart, body, and soul in an inferno. My longtime friend, faithfully and dutifully, regardless of the hour, responds to my distress call, and turns up at the hospital, to help me make the long journey back home. And so my day came that day when life has you in a vice-like grip. 

Let us reflect. Let it be known, that each one of us, without exception, is promised such days, when life will have you in a stranglehold, when it will lift you and throw you to the ground, so hard, you will wince. When there will be no respite. You will look for it and not find it. You will be thrown into a grief so intense, that you will be at a loss, so that you will walk or sit in a daze because your very heart will have been wrenched off your chest. Therefore, be in good cheer when your days are happy, and make hay while that sun is still shining, because as surely as it rises in all our lives, so will it go down, before it rises again, if it ever does.  

In conclusion, I will not hesitate to wish all who are having their sunny day in the hay, a beautiful and merry Christmas, full of cheer banter, and love unbound, and may the coming year bring us nothing but more joy. But because I am a believer and faithful to the promise, constantly aware of my imperfections, my attention is drawn to those, other than my in-law, those that life has thrown to the ground during this festive season, those whom life has defrocked. My message to them of faith, is that there is always a cross before the crown, bear your pain in fear and trembling, carry your cross, for the time is upon you, just like it will be upon each of us, sooner, or later. May God grant you forbearance during this unbelievable time. For those who do not subscribe to the faith, that may the cosmos, or that which you believe in, and its forces therein, align to your favour, and may the darkness give rise to dawn.

 

In heartfelt condolence and prayer to Daktari who has lost her son.

In everlasting memory of Reuben Warambo.

  

 

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107 Comments
  1. Your grief seeps through your words, and I am so sorry, that for you, this festive season is festive no more. May the love you have for your son sail you through this dark moment, and the subsequent times that grief will come knocking on your door.

    I would have loved to tell you that with time you will heal of this grief, but time does not heal, it just makes it bearable. Fare thee well Ruben.

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  2. Oh my God. I can’t believe it, I met Reuben at Village Market and he was such a remarkable young man. I am at a loss for words, May his Soul rest in everlasting peace. May God Comfort Daktari.

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  3. What a beautiful piece! Especially for me that I’m going through this festive season holding my head above water. Gone through a painful breakup of a relationship that had lasted 12years and 2 kids. First Christmas without “Family”. Your post has made me realize the many forms of pain. Some more intense than others. Whilst I grieve my relationship loss, someone else is grieving the loss of a loved one. I know with time, I will heal and get on with life; and even have it better than it had been. But for those with the loss of a loved one, it is a constant and irreversible pain. Because of this, i am encouraged to be hopeful and to step out of my sadness and focus on the bright side of my situation. For your In-law, I pray that God may be her stronghold and strength now and always. Sending hugs and best wishes. And for everyone else having a rough time during this season, may God come through for all of us in all our individual ways. Amen.

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  4. Heartfelt condolences to daktari. So sorry for her loss..’ may the darkness give rise to dawn.’

    https://thewallflower254.wordpress.com/2023/12/01/ends-end-well/

  5. Pole daktari, family and friends. May Reuben’s soul rest in peace. Looks like the writing talent runs down the family Brother Julius.

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  6. My sincerest heartfelt condolences to Daktari for unfortunate and untimely demise of her son. My thoughts and prayers goes out to her.

  7. May our sovereign Lord comfort you beyond the pale of human understanding. The power of God conquers beyond the grave. take heart Daktari

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  8. Thank you for sharing this in the midst of grief. it really does give perspective, that the life we live is given for a time.

  9. This story has evoked a lot of emotions in me…I wanted to send virtual hugs, but better yet, I pray that you know that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, remains with you, and He will touch and heal you in a way no one else can. I loved this: “There is always a cross before the crown.” Merry Christmas to all.

  10. This story has evoked a lot of emotions in me…I wanted to send virtual hugs, but better yet, I pray that you will know that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, remains with you, and He alone can touch and heal you in a way no one else can. I loved this: “There is always a cross before the crown. Merry Christmas to Biko and the gang.

  11. Your words resonate with raw emotion and offer a poignant reflection on the fragility of life. Sending thoughts of solace and support your way.

    I wish everyone a beautiful and merry Christmas and a happy new year.

  12. Having experienced loss of a loved one this year, the intense pain, incomprehensible to self and to others, I don’t know what to tell someone who’s bereaved. Nothing, no word makes the situation easier or better. I can only hope and pray for grace to carry forward with the grief, because once it calls, it never leaves.

  13. I teared a lil beat..i have experienced loss this year as well.The loss of my unborn child , a close friend Mwangi Gatere… And my patient.

    I am taking a day at a time and allowing myself to feel it all..

    May Reuben rest in peace

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  14. Our condolences to thee, thy family and all those that hath lost a loved one. May the Perpetual Ligjt shine upon them.
    Amen

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  15. I’m very sorry for your loss. An orphan is a child who has lost their parents, a widow or widower has lost their spouse, but there’s no word for a parent who loses their child. It feels like a human experience that goes against the laws of nature. Like something that should not exist at all. So why does this happen? We don’t know. I’m very sorry for your loss.

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  16. it’s the third Christmas without my beloved father and the sun doesnt seem. to rise again. pole sana for your loss.

  17. I love how you talk of we, it means you walked the journey together. I pray for peace of heart and mind. May he rest in peace.
    Merry Christmas to you.

  18. Hugs to Daktari and may comfort and peace arrive at yours through this time.
    Bikozulu a very beautiful season to you and yours for keeping me with a good story each time I read your page and to the rest of your fans.
    Xxxx

  19. Weuh,!! Julius this is rough goodness is like you held your breath , then dodged the bullet at 18 years and had audacity to hope for more , and then this . Hugs bro, may our Good God give the fortitude it takes to deal with this . You are in my prayers.

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  20. Innalilahi waina ilaihi rajiun May Almighty God grant you strength, peace, grace as you mourn your son. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Amen

  21. #Sigh

    Deep hugs to those who bear this poignant loss.
    May God truly be your fortress in times of trouble.
    Psalms 46 & 18 ❤❤

  22. It’s at times like this that I am reminded of my mortality and that life has a way of throwing curveballs as it sees fit. No one expects pain, no one is more deserving of it than the next person or less deserving either. I try to find joy in all the moments; big or small and to cradle it close and share it “For the bad days that inevitably crop up and we can’t be happy” .
    When young people die, I feel it keenly and differently to an older person who has had decades and decades and rich memories and additional branches to the family tree as testament of a full life and continuity. I cannot fathom the grief of a parent burying their child; it’s an upset in the life cycle – my mother says one would feel it in their navel, as mothers always feel a pain at that place where they sustained life at the beginning.

    Pole sana daktari, may God shore you up, may your loved ones shore you up, may they allow you to grieve as you see fit and support you through it, may there be comfort, may there be love. Thank you Mr Julius Ougo for your blessing and your benediction, and pole sana for the loss of your nephew as well.

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  23. Such a poignant yet beautiful penmanship. May the Lord show in this hour of need and suffering for you and your friend. I pray that the skys clear and a brighter day shows in your lives however that may look. This just put perspective in my life- you may be here suffering thinking it is the end of the world yet life moves on somewhere else. May Reuben rest in peace.
    Despite all this I hope you find it in your hearts to have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, from me and mine, to you and yours. Love and peace.

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  24. My heart is broken, I am scared but still hopeful that life one day will bring us together to our beloved ones that we have lost and when our time has come.

    Sorry for the loss Daktari.

  25. May the peace of God be with daktari and Rueben’s family and friends.

    I can feel and identify with the pain in Brother Julius words. I lost my sister in October. She was our lastborn, young and ever so full of life. Her death was sudden and heartbreaking. It rocked our lives so hard, its impossible to even imagine we will ever get over this block of grief that is now tied to our backs. Joyful moments are now tainted with a bitter taste, a lingering pain and sadness.

    The realization of her ‘goneness’ hits me at the weirdest moments, like hearing those dreaded words for the first time. And yet death, as brutal, final and debilitating as it is, is a part of our lives, a condition of our existence, always lurking in the periphery, until our time comes to face what Brother Julius aptly described as ‘… that day when life has you in a vice-like grip. I found that in those moments nothing seemed to hold, except comfort in Gods word, his promises and his strength. Total submission to Gods will.

    May God heal the broken hearted and comfort those who grieve especially during this rough time where memories of our loved ones and the gap left are glaringly evident.

  26. My deepest sympathies. We are here on borrowed time and when it comes we are never and can ever be prepared for exit from the stage.

  27. This is heart wrenching. I am emotionally crippled after reading this. A take home is that let us cherish the moments we have with our loved once as we not know the day nor the hour our sun will set. Condolences to you, may you find comfort.

  28. My sincere condolences Daktari. Many hugs!!! Death is so final I truly wish God would give us a day to visit our loved ones even if it just once

  29. Brother Julius, your heartfelt prayer resonates with the spirit of resilience and hope. Your words inspire us to face the challenges of the coming year with strength and unity. As we journey forward, may your guidance and the power of faith lead us to brighter paths.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and offering a moment of reflection. Wishing you and the entire community a blessed and fulfilling new year, filled with the warmth of love and the light of hope.

    May we continue to support one another and find courage in the face of adversity. Your presence is a beacon of inspiration, and we look forward to the shared moments and growth in the days ahead.

    Happy holidays, Brother Julius, and may the coming year bring abundant blessings to you and all those you hold dear.

  30. It is the case that this realm of existence has been created with harshness. The tests, trials, temptations and toils that are the hardships, pain, anguish and challenges we go through.
    But He who made it possible is not unreasonable, irrational or ignorant. He has a reason behind the creation of this existence. A reason far from our comprehension. So, persevere my fellow humans, and see what will come from the purpose of our creation. Death shouldn’t pain too much, for it is a rest that had been included in the design of the creation to cushion us from the nature of this existence by giving us a limit in our lives. It doesn’t mean the end, but only a rest.

  31. Nothing like seeing your own flesh and blood in the cold morgue… then housed inside a casket… happened to me just before corona .. nothing I can wish my worst ENEMY…my 7 year old princess…. I am still smarting and recovering… Happy new year people…

  32. May the young soul rest in eternal peace. May daktari and the family at large find peace and comfort in the Lord during this trying time.

  33. Sorry for your loss, very sad!! May the Lord give you the strength and courage to keep going during this very trying time. May Reuben rest well in the Lord’s warm embrace, AMEN.

  34. May the Soul of Reuben Warambo rest easy. May the Family of Daktari find comfort in such hard times. Sometimes we Doctors tell our patients to be calm and take heart at such times, not really taking time to reflect how one should start that kind of assignment. Yes, truth is that we have seen many patients get healed and sad part is that we have also seen uncountable patients die and it breaks us down. Then after the death of our loved ones, it’s when we come to realize that it’s a different kind of break down. Totally different.
    Rest easy Warambo

  35. Grieving is a forever affair ,endured in different format especially where there is unexpected loss of a loved one .
    I lost my beautiful wife in October through birth related complications.
    life has never been same and it’s a dark room of uncertainty.

  36. Deepest condolences to the family & May they find strength and solace in the loving memories they shared with their son.