There are many tragedies that have occurred in Kenya in the recent past and left the entire nation on its knees. From fires to road accidents to conflicts to terrorism. The effects of these tragedies will linger on longer than we would like them to. The memories of the pain, the scars, the loss of loved ones. Our lives will change and we will never be the same again. We only move on because we have to but within us, we remain stuck. Unable to let go unable to move on unable to catch up with the rest of the world. So we’ll learn to be around you without being there. We’ll learn to laugh with you, all the while we’ve never stopped crying.
The hardest bit about any tragedy must be seeing everyone else moving on with their lives while you remain stuck. And who can blame them? Their lives have to go on. They too have their problems to deal with. Life may have stopped for you, but they are doing their best to keep theirs from stopping. And that’s OK. They must move on. We must let them.
But sometimes we move on too fast that to the victims, it feels as if our being there was a task that is now complete and we quickly moved on to the next. To the victims it seems as if what they are going through isn’t important to you anymore if it ever was. They feel alone deserted and disappointed. As much as their expectations from the rest of the world maybe unrealistic, if we put ourselves in their shoes, we too would not be any different.
Imagine how life changed for the Loreto Msongari girls after the accident. Imagine having to learn to live without a limb on top of the trauma of the accident itself. Imagine having to learn to depend on others after you worked so hard to be independent. Imagine seeing a need but can’t give a hand, literally. Imagine, wanting to hold someone else’s hand, wanting to write a text, to make a call or board a matatu… but you can’t. Not just yet.
Now imagine your friends and parents pitying you, making you feel even more helpless. Imagine your friends feeling so helpless that they begin to keep their distance making you even lonelier. Imagine your friends not calling because they dont know what to tell you when all you wanted was for them to be there and to talk about the same things you used to. Now imagine this going on for weeks, months and even years!
To the victims of the different tragedies, forgive us for being so insensitive and quick to move on with our lives without caring about you. Forgive not only our selfishness but our strategy as well. In our minds we thought we were doing what’s best for you. Now it’s clear that it was what is good for us. We should have known better. We should have stayed even if we did not know what to say or do. We should have stayed.
We should have asked what you wanted us to do or be before we made the decision to leave or give you “the space to deal”. We missed a chance to be there for you when you needed us the most. That may have been one of the toughest times of your life and we, your friends were not there. Maybe there is little we could have done, but at least we would have been there. Your long days could have been shorter and cold nights warmer. We may not have had the answers but we could have listened. We should have been there.
Now we know better. We will stay even with nothing to say. We will stay until you can see a better day. We will stay.