February is a hard month for myself and my family; it was when death visited. It has been two years since Toba walked out of our lives as a family. Two years of ongoing pain, healing, release and rebirth in our individual and collective journeys.
To those that have suffered loss, I understand your pain. I write this to let you know that I understand that heart-wrenching feeling of fate gone wrong; of memories stolen and bleeding parts of a whole story. All those missing pieces that seem to clang with the sound of that nightmarish scream.
I can empathise, because I have felt it. I understand that nauseous realization of a bond ruptured at its seams. I know the intensity, and I am sorry you had to feel it.
But, I encourage you to allow yourselves to heal; to see past the broken promises of words and dreams that never had a chance to be built. Though when death first hits you, it leaves you blind; I encourage you to still fight for your sight. I know it leaves you feeling paralyzed. I know it leaves you confused in a chasm of chaos; but fight, because love has no ending. Death cannot take that much. Turn your love for one another into a story to help another. Turn those treasured memories into stepping-stones to aid another soul that has suffered from the same wound – someone who is bleeding on the riverbank of memories turned cold.
You see, death leaves you broken and unsure. I know that feeling-it hurts like a bitter sore. I know the ache it leaves behind. I am familiar with that wound that is at the centre of your heart because it hits your core -it leaves you so afraid and unsure.
But I encourage you to stand up; not immediately because that is truly an impossible mission to take up all at once. Give yourself time to heal. It won’t be overnight. Sometimes I still struggle with what was taken. Those memories and visions that never had a chance to face the breath of seasons.
Sometimes I still get angry: angry at life, angrier at death for taking from me…but you know what? I have made my peace with those feelings. I try and honour my brother’s memory in every day and every decision I make. I try to think what would Toba think if he could see me? What would he say? What would be his words of advice behind that cheeky grin? You see, because death cannot steal the love you have for one another-it cannot hurt that link. So allow yourself to wander into that part of your bond-that treasured space of protected memories. That is where their hearts still beat.
It would always hurt, that much is certain, but when you give it room to heal, it is a visible scar that tells a story of the war of wills. The fight for peace in a season of pain, the struggle to see when all seemed to be taken away.
Turn what was stolen into a gift. Turn the memories into a story of healing by allowing yourself to feel. I know it left you numb for a season. I know you faced guilt of all kinds and dealt with pain in all its twisted forms of reasoning. I know you still struggle with this new reality-unsure how to navigate out of what was taken from your sanctuary. But think of how much peace it would give the ones you love if you were able to gift back into the world their stories through your words – through your smiles of encouragement, your laughter of hope and your sudden inspiration to chase those closeted dreams you never had the courage to explore. Yes, treasure their memories through those forms. That way they will live on.
Sometimes, I like to think like this: I find it gives my heart a sound of release-especially during those moments when you begin to rethink the past because a trigger goes off and you remember what you had. Those moments are hard, they are difficult, but you have to learn to live through that cloud of grief and come out focused once more.
Your loved ones that you lost, are never really gone. Touch your heart…can you feel that? That heartbeat is a sound of their love that remains strong. It beats through your veins, it speaks through your words, it lives through your purpose. Don’t let death steal that much. That is how I dealt with grief when it first came through my door.
February remains a hard month for me. Any simple trigger can remind me of him. We shared so much, so I understand if you have suffered a heart wrenching loss. I understand that sting that never truly heals. I know that deep scar it leaves behind. Losing Toba nearly killed me, but I found my strength in Christ and now I aim to inspire others through the truth of my experiences.
The reason I chose to speak about this is because I think many people struggle from loss and feelings of inadequacy. So many have lost to the hands of death, because of what was stolen; but I want you to understand – you hold the power to turn that grief into a gift. You hold the power to move forward if you allow yourself to experience the release. Allow yourself to grieve, to feel every tear that shivers through your body. Feel every scream, acknowledge the presence of your guilt. This doesn’t mean it’s right. It just means it is a test you have passed. Don’t dwell in it. That is a mistake many make who experience this. Take little steps and start to speak-death changes your reality. Allow yourself to experience the new colours it has birthed in your destiny.
Death has a way of clarifying things – like what is really important and who we have been neglecting. It brings a sour tasting reality of what it means to truly love and be loved into your understanding. So start to live in that reality don’t dwell on the past that was taken, channel that loss into a present focus on a future filled with possibilities.
Build on the foundation of love that you shared with that person-because what I have come to understand is. Love never dies; it remains undisturbed and even grows in force through that season.
On the 15th of February Toba was taken. It nearly destroyed me, but I thank God for his life. I thank God we are siblings. His legacy lives on through his music. His words live through my memories and those he walked with in friendship, but I am most thankful for the fact that I had the chance to experience that journey with him for more than 19 full years of laughter, anger and sibling revelry.
I love you Toba. I hope you are proud of me. I will always remember your smile, your mischief, the love you have for me. I will do my best to honour your memory-continue to rest in perfect peace. You lived your life with such intensity. I always admired the courage you displayed in accepting your calling. It inspired me to start my own journey.
And to those that have suffered loss, take strength. Treasure your memories, allow them to empower your decisions and birth your unique mark on the footprints of destiny. Your departed loved ones want you to survive that season, they want you to come out stronger and birthed into a deeper release of your personality. So honour their memories through your stories. Allow your life to be lived in its own unique platform of power.
That is how you defeat death’s victory.
Watch the tribute video for Toba here: