It started with a single picture. Then collection of old blurry birthday pictures all taken in May of 1991, 1992 & 1993. Some had the lustrous backdrop of the beautiful SB Bakare’s Mansion on Queensdrive Ikoyi, others the bustling Maxi Class restaurant on Olu Obasanjo at D-Line in Port Harcourt and some, inside the glossy emerald green walled-dinning room of my Lagos Island residence. Boxes of pictures I came across during early spring Covid19 Lockdown while decluttering my garage.
Oh, I could tell it was a festive period and my yearly impromptu birthday celebrations, as it had several young adults mostly dressed in jeans and colorful t-shirts, either on break from various Universities or recovering from the Jamb rejection letter and had gathered at my place on the Island or in Port Harcourt, at a chosen venue to celebrate my birthday.
My face lit up with joy, as I remembered the faces, then immediately was replaced with pain and sorrow.. amidst the depressing pandemic going on, I’d realized that several of the happy faces radiating warmth and youthful outbursts from the pictures were either so far away or just…No More.
They’d passed away.
Good, Young, Cordial, Vibrant, Dear Friends: Gone! at their prime!
Even as their memories live on in the pile of pictures I carry with me, or with their immediate family members that were almost impossible to reconnect with, a feeling of despair resonated deeply within me!
How do I want to be remembered when I become just a memory in someone’s pile of picture collection?
How do we create memories? Will I be defined by my character on a good day? or be shamed by my weakness?
While happiness can be temporary, and so easily stolen by the circumstances in which we live in now, joy cannot be stolen; it can only be handed away. It is our decision to either live in joy or walk in constant disappointment.
I’ve always picked joy, sometimes it finds its way in the crowd to nominate me, I guess, ‘while been hopeful. How about you?
To fully wrap our heads around this precept, we must first understand the difference between happiness and joy.
Happiness depends on outside circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is an internal decision we make based on the conviction of things we believe will come about, but that our eyes have yet to behold.
Even as this rogue and ruthless virus has swiftly stolen so many pre-planned joy-filled events and people robbed us of very special occasions and memories we hoped to have. Disappointed doesn’t begin to describe what we were all feeling, but we shouldn’t give up.
But I’m sure you could relate your own story of loss which occurred within the first few months of this pandemic. Graduation ceremonies, weddings, birthdays and vacations were cancelled, sports championships were sidelined, jobs were lost, businesses failed, money vanished from retirement accounts.
Relationships are rebranded! Sex life for married couples received an instant memo of resuscitations for detour! Marriages once on eggs shells are either cracked-up fried or nurtured by test of time!
Close to my heart, there’s an uproar and alarming rate of isolation for families with special needs children while healthcare disparity tightens hopes for families awaiting conception. I’ve had to counsel and give hope to those who’ve gone through miscarriages, a topic that has always been surrounded by silence and pain, while COVID-19 has made the experience feel even more isolating.
Aha, all these trials, those very ones which ruthlessly steal our joy, they can act as maturing agents in our lives, if we manage to hold onto our faith through them.
So, even in the midst of it all, Is it still possible that one more brutality piled on, like so many before it was finally too much?
Is it possible that this is a turning point in understanding and addressing the ways in which racism eats away at an entire society while ravaging some far more than others?
Is it possible that the past week is the beginning of real change?
That, this is a struggle with a long history, but a struggle that must succeed.
Is this our new NORMAL?
Adaptability and Hope.
No matter where you are. No matter what you are facing. Step out in faith! May your next month, and the month after, and the one after be full of cheerfulness, gaiety and laughter; to cause or raise happiness and unspeakable joy.
In Memory of All We Lost Along The Way. . .
Yours in HOPE