This blog post is written in loving memory of a very very dear Aunty and family friend who made such a huge impact on my life, especially my teenage years.
Aunty A, this is for you! I am so grateful to God for the light and love and grace that you brought into our lives. What a ray of sunshine you were, right up until the end! I know that you will be with Jesus for eternity, and by God’s grace, I know that we will meet again one day!
I cannot quite remember the first time that I met Aunty A, but I was immediately struck by her bubbly warm character. What I do remember is that then she was carrying her newborn daughter who has since grown into a beautiful young lady, and whom Aunty A loved so tenderly and protectively. Aunty A became a member of the tightknit church I belonged to during my teens, pastored by my parents. What an amazing experience it was to belong to a church, rather than to merely attend one! We all literally lived at one another’s houses. We were always going to various celebrations and parties together, and eating endlessly! At times we would bicker like any loving family but it was all undergirded by such a strong current of love. I am so grateful for those days. I am especially grateful for the part Aunty A played in all of this. She never spoke badly of anyone! She eventually became our youth leader. She and I were particularly close and we would spend literally hours on the phone just talking and sharing. She was possibly the first person in my life with whom I could be totally candid and honest. We spoke about everything, by which of course I mean guys and sex! I still remember her exhortation ringing in my ears as I went off to uni: “No sex, Tosin!”
At the time I was thinking that it was utterly improbable thing that I would even be tempted by this at uni, only to soon find myself caught up in a very intense but thankfully one-sided attraction to someone who was not even a Christian! It was so good to be able to discuss with her like that. Our chats were legendary! My younger sis was also very close to her and sometimes we would have these very deep three way discussions.
Aunty A was the person who introduced us (the youth group) to Chinese “Eat as much as you like” Buffets! I certainly remember that day! We all ate so much that we could barely endure the bus ride home – we almost literally burst.
Aunty A was also the person who introduced us to a certain brand of “cool Christianity”. She was the one who first played for us that Kirk Franklin song “STOMP!” which is so funky and cool. Apparently despite its overtly Christian lyrics it was played endlessly in regular nightclubs in Jamaica – it was that cool! If there was ever a song that was overplayed, that was it! However now, 18 years later(wow!) I still find it so infectious that I can’t help bopping away to it, even as I write this article, despite the nature of this article. These days I am not so much into cool Christianity, but back then, as a teenager, that was just what I needed. I needed to make the point at least to myself, that “Yeah I’m a Christian, but we can also be cool!” (which is possibly why I played that one song endlessly in my first year at uni!)
Aunty A herself was blessed with an amazing voice. As I write this the last time I saw her was three weeks ago to the day. Even then she treated us to some singing, and her voice was still as beautiful as ever, almost operatic. She was also physically gorgeous, into fashion, and full of exciting ideas for trying things out.
Aunty A handled everything with such dignity and poise. She had this eloquent way of speaking where she would emphatically enunciate every syllable. I was so proud of the way she handled her illness. She kept trusting God, she refused to succumb to bitterness, she kept holding on to hope. To be candid, I was praying for her healing. I was confident that she was going to get better. I reassured her of this constantly. I reassured all our family and mutual friends. Sincerely, she was actually improving before our eyes. I was so excited about this. Ultimately though, she did not receive a full healing here on earth, but has now left this world, less than three weeks after that last meeting. While I remember her life with joy and gratitude, I know that this is not what could and should have happened in this particular case. Things could have been so different, for the sake of more wisdom, more understanding and more experience at least on my own part.
All the same though, I am giving God the glory for this beautiful life; I am giving Him thanks for the opportunity and privilege of getting to know Aunty A as we did. I am praying to God that He will comfort Aunty A’s family at this very sad time, especially her daughter.
Aunty A, you are sincerely the best! Thank you so much for sharing those years of your life with us! May God bless you for the impact you made on so many young lives, just by being real, and being yourself. Until we meet again – adieu! xx