We would sit outside on the porch those days, talking for hours that seemed like minutes. When we were not talking, we would stare at the sky, both on the starry nights and the nights when the sky was rid of all galactic components. Somehow, in some mysterious but somewhat supernatural way, sitting here, looking at the sky with him soothed all of my trepidations and hopefully, his too.
He taught me many things I did not know. For one, how to ride a bike. He would tell me to picture the training wheels, smiling sheepishly. Although I fell about a hundred times and still have the battle scars to prove, I have bagged the junior chubby cycling championship two years in a row.
All those times I would sit alone in my bedroom, fretting, worrying about the unknown; he would come and soothe me. He never said much but when he did speak, I would feel all my worries fading. When I was being bullied at school, he told me to take the pain and turn it into “a pin” to shove in the faces of the bullies. Of course, I knew he did not mean that I should be violent, but just the thought of it was some relief and before I knew it, the bullies left me alone.
From him, I learnt to take how I felt and beautifully convey it with words on paper. I would sit and compose poems of deep and fascinating theme. I became a self acclaimed poet who rather than push what he felt away, embraced each and every second, smell, scene and sort.
I remember the year I got really ill; how he told me the injections were swords in battle to fight all the evil viruses making me feel sick. He would stay up all night by my bedside playing nurse. His chicken soup was heaven in a bowl and the little round pieces of dough that he would deep fry (puff-puff) had just enough heat to burn my nausea to ashes. Soon, I was on my feet again because of him.
When I was preparing for my finals and persistent sleep due to all the stress at school and work just did not let me burn the midnight candle like I wanted to, he taught me a little trick to stay awake. He told me to use my toothbrush while brushing to jam just a little bit down my throat. He said after I cough a few seconds in, I will instantly be jolted up from all iotas of sleep in my system and guess what? – it worked! Or so I thought until the day I came home with my report card full of A’s and he laughed in sheepish manner. I asked what was so amusing and he told me all about how the trick was not really a thing. I had only stayed awake because I thought it was effective when in truth, it was all in my head. That day, my levels of determination went through the roof, although I faked being mad at him for a week.
Every single day, he taught me something new; how to appreciate life. He told me of Jesus and how I was redeemed because of the ultimate sacrifice that was made for me. From him, I learnt faith, endurance, perseverance, to live each day at a time, to listen with my heart and not my head, to give everything my all, to make plans for myself, to dream and not just dream but dream big!
I know these things may seem like basic life lessons but I had to live and breathe his lessons, I had to BECOME them.
We were on the journey of life together up until a cold May evening, when I met him on the porch sitting in his favorite spot, his head turned to the sky but his eyes closed. He seemed asleep but I knew it was more than that. After five years and four score, he had hit home, beyond the skies. He was smiling.
I was not happy but I was not sad. I sat at his feet, pondering, taking my pain and turning it to pins, using my faith and fading my worries in the silence.
To this day, I still sit on the porch talking with him for hours. When we are not talking, I would stare at the sky and purge myself of all my trepidations