On most days, I relish the fact that we live in a global village. I have family and friends all over the world and we keep in contact through emails, skype, social media… and it works extremely well. But when someone you love dies and you live on the other side of the world, it doesn’t.
No amount of instant connection over the internet, can replace being right there. Today, I cannot really meet and hug my cousin’s son. Yes, I’ve met him over the internet and that’s amazing. But I am unable to express my deepest emotions to the family and friends who will be gathering to say their goodbyes. There is no opportunity for me to see my big, handsome cousin for the last time. I won’t be able to hear all the wonderful memories his loved ones share, on the day they say farewell.
We all straddle two worlds – virtual and real. Sometimes the distinctions get so blurred that we muddle them up. And that’s also okay. I’ve made great friends over social media and some of them I even get to meet for real. But when a crisis hits, when a death jolts us out of our zone, there is still nothing to replace a real hug, an actual kiss, a long embrace, a chat over a glass of wine, which stretches into the early hours of the morning.
So here’s the thing. Remember that all the internet connections in the world, do not replace the real deal. Cherish the people near you. Share your life’s journey with them. Meet up and include them in your days. Be unplugged for a certain amount of time and really listen to what your friend or lover is saying. Tap into what your own heart is telling you too. Tell people that you love them, if you do… ‘Cause you never know when the last moment will come.
It’s all those unsaid things that clog up our hearts, until we no longer know how to feel. Take down the barbed wire and let those emotions loose on the world!
…So here’s what I want to say to my cousin Alan… You were the dark haired, blue eyed guy that I was in awe of, especially when I was a little girl. When you smiled at me, I felt like a princess. Your name came into many family conversations and the photographs I treasured, were the ones of you striding across the beach, with a bevy of beauties in your wake. I totally understood why! Meeting you again, as an adult and sharing memories on Fishoek beach, was a huge privilege for me. You filled in so many gaps and helped me to make sense of the Gilbride clan I’d been born into. I am so grateful that you took me to our grandparents house. I’d been searching for it, for years. I learnt that you’d been extremely close to your uncle (my father) and that his advice steered your journey in many ways. I saw the grandmother I’d never met, through your eyes and laughed at our shared memories of Grandad Gilbride, the true patriach of the family. I always imagined I’d see you again. There’d still be time to catch up on each other’s lives. One day, I’d visit you in your home. Well I was wrong and right now there is a huge, gaping hole where you should be.
All there is left for me to do, is to feel your spirit soar above us now. May you find eternal peace Alan.
Hamba Kahle, my beloved cousin.