May The 13th

In May of 1996, it had been raining heavily, kind of like how it has been pounding the city this week. But on this particular day, the 13th of May, there were only light showers. A couple of people were taking shelter in buildings around the city as is the norm, to wait for the rain to subside. In one of those buildings right in the heart of Nairobi’s CBD, a slab from the roof wetted by the rain, collapsed, coming down on the people who had gathered below. 16 people died that day and a lot more injured. That was 19 years ago today. It’s hard to imagine that all that time has passed already.

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It’s amazing how little I have posted about my father on this blog. I mentioned something sometime back about it but it wasn’t at length, but I am sure more posts will pop up about him on here. That day my future was etched on a different canvas. Life took a tangent that no one would have known where it would have led had that day not come to pass. Throughout, even until now I can’t ever remember questioning why. I think that’s the first thing that always pops up on someone’s mind after such a loss. Why did I have to go through it? Why did this have to happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? I have never had these questions on my mind. Instead, I always wonder whether he is proud of the man I am today and how I can make sure that he is never forgotten. I have been told once that my striking resemblance to him is already surety that he won’t.

Even though I haven’t posted much about him, or don’t often talk about him to anyone, I think about him every single day. Just this post, has been in the making for several months and I started to work on it about two months ago. The thoughts are not structured though so if you ask me what I think about exactly, the answer isn’t going to be anything coherent. It’s just passing thoughts, random musings. I see something on telly and it reminds me of him. I work on the lawn outside and I remember waking up on Saturdays to the smell freshly cut grass. I see a guitar and I remember him. I see a choir sing and I imagine him there orchestrating them. You walk in the living room, even now, and the first thing that hits you is a picture of my dad. There used to be this black old leather jacket in our bedroom. It was his and I hated that jacket. Every time I went into the room I would just get a glimpse of it, you know, those times you see something in the corner of your eye without even having to look at it. Except for the bad days where I would just look and stare at it and get lost in thought. I never found the courage to touch it.

Nineteen years is a long time to be missing someone. It’s an even longer time to be missing someone who you don’t fully know. Sure I have memories of him here and there, memories that I treasure, everyone who had the chance to have met him speaks very highly of him. But you know what breaks my heart everyday? Not knowing who he was, the kind of man he was, the kind of person he could have become. That he didn’t get a chance to walk his daughters down the aisle. That he won’t be there to see my kids or his grandkids. That I will never get the chance to have a manly conversation with him. He wasn’t there to teach me about girls and business and what being a man is. He didn’t get the chance to know me. I think about these things the most.

I remember this one time during one of the funeral meetings at our place, a man came in. It was one of the better days. I remember he was wearing a brown jacket and had this loud voice. He started shouting how life was unfair and that my dad didn’t deserve what had happened. He pointed at us and said he felt sorry for us and he kept repeating how he could not believe my dad was gone. I didn’t know him so he wasn’t a relative and after a while he had to be calmed down. I don’t know why this memory stuck, but it constantly plays in my head. And I keep thinking if anyone will feel that strongly about me. It always pushes me to be a better man and a true friend to everyone I meet.

So this day is for you dad. We dearly miss you and we will definitely never forget you.

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16 thoughts on “May The 13th

  1. Joy says:

    Dad or Baba as we called him, was the type of man I hope to see my son become one day. He was always striving to be a great example to us, he forgave very easily, an attribute I would really love to emulate. He made friends fast and always kept his enemies close and truly loved everyone, including said enemies. He seemed to know everyone including celebrities,lol. He would just walk up to them and talk like they had known each other for years. They seemed to know him as well. He loved each of us dearly and taught us older 3 about life, forgiving, being nice to everyone,sincerely, not just faking it, watching out for boys who had nothing better to do but hunt for nice innocent girls and vice versa for our bro. Hopefully we can sit down one day and talk about it all so you can know him through our eyes,your older siblings. He would be proud of you today. He was proud then, of us all and he would still be proud

    • I sure hope so! And I am so looking forward to that convo! Sometimes I’m jealous you guys got to spend more time with him. Hehe.. I treasure the little memories I have.
      Thank you for posting this siz!

  2. tommboyaouma2013 says:

    Vince,

    I remember that wretched day as clearly as if it was yesterday. Your dad was not just a good man, he was a great man. His love for God was evidence through his service to the people of God. I looked up to him as a mentor, and so did many of my peers. I grew up without a dad too, and so I began to look up to him as one of my father figure.

    He would be proud of the person you’d have turned out to be, and the person you continue to become. We all are. I know I am.

    Lawrence Matinde, till we meet again.

    • Thanks Tom for the kind words. I remember people like you made that time a little more bearable. You guys were there throughout. I appreciate!
      Thanks!

  3. Thank you for writing from your heart, and for reminding us once again of this precious man of God. Yes, dearly missed. He was always happy, always encouraging to others, always ready to serve!

  4. Ruthy says:

    I was only six years when my uncle went to be with the Lord….I remember asking about the commotion my dad told me my uncle died…. my mum explained to me what death was and for a long time I believed my uncle was the first person to ever die…..perhaps because it was the first time I felt such pain and understood the loss…….I remember my dad crying. I cried too I even wailed when I found out I wasn’t going for the burial.
    There was a parallel meeting in our compound, for the planning of the funeral, everybody from the neighborhood and church came to pay their respect, I too wonder what kind of man he was that his legacy still lives on to date my mother always remembered this date and the date of the burial as well……my father says “my brother Lawrence was a great man, he was my friend” it is particularly difficult for my dad to relive this day because he is the one who found his body, trusting his gut feeling to look for missing persons because he remembered meeting him under that same building and leaving him there he told me that when he found him he looked as though he was sleeping……I cry too when I see the pain, loss and void he left in everything he touched. I can’t even begin to imagine how his children felt.

    my prayers go out to each one of you tonight. psalm 147:3 God is the only one who heals the broken heart and mends our wounds. He will make it easy.

    • Thanks for the kind words and the verse. It’s true that only He can mend our wounds and we are all grateful that Dad was such a believer in God.
      Thanks.

  5. Wow! Heart-felt and touching!
    It’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around this…it’s one of those areas where I find myself ill-equipped…
    Through my wife, though, I’ve seen the strength that comes from pain and loss…I’ve seen the same resilience in you and your bro!

  6. Odongo Odum japesa says:

    The writings are clear, an indication that the memories of one Lawrence Matinde are and will be with us. Thank God for you’ve managed to get this far-it isn’t any easy ride. Prayers & dedication towards success have worked well in you and the Family members. Keep the Faith that he rests in a better place. PEACE.

  7. Jackline Ombega(Bonney Miles) says:

    I have read this and found myself crying for i know the pain of losing someone you love. I never had a chance to meet uncle,i was not even born yet, but from what i have heard he must have been a great man. I didn’t get to know what happened to him until i grew older and that is when mum revealed to me what happened,and i met him through a frame photo of him in one of our get-togethers. He resembles you people and i am sure he is proud of you for you have come so far. It is not easy especially for me and you Sykes,being last borns for that means we spent little time with these precious people. I usually feel jealous too of my elder siblings for they spent more time with mum, for i was just fresh out of highschool boarding when she started being sick and spent most of her time in hospital beds and doctor appointments. We barely had time together. You lost a dad, i lost a mum but i believe God has been so faithful for bringing us this far. I remember asking you out of the blue one day if you think of your father and you responded “Every single day”..Treasure those beautiful memories for they are what will make you stronger like you are now. May we commemorate his memories and those of the loved ones we have lost for they are our heroes.

    • He made us who we are and taught us to rely solely on God.
      I knew why you asked that when you did, it never leaves you. The pain is as raw as that very day. You just learn to live with it somehow.
      Thanks for opening up!

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