Family Life Love

An Orchestra of Life & Death

September 28, 2020

Dear Dad,

It was my birthday today.

I actually forgot it was my birthday. Imagine that!!! For the first time ever I forgot that today would be my birthday until Kate said I am taking you out for your birthday on Monday. It seemed insignificant, miniscule, in the grand scheme of things. I did not think I would be able to celebrate without you here.

My first birthday, without you!

For years whilst in boarding school and university, you sang happy birthday to me over the phone because you could not do it in person and I thought he is not here and I don’t get an out of tune happy birthday song over the phone. Does Heaven allow that? Call your little girl on her birthday? Can you show up in a dream and we hang out for a little while? Can you flash me that big ol’ grin and say Happy Birthday? I wish you show up, just for a little while.

But guess what? Half of the calls I got today, people sang to me. They sang. Did you put it out there into the universe? Sing for my baby. Thank you for showing up like that.

I miss you!

I can hear you singing, happy birthday!

And that is the thing, the world insists on saying ‘was’ but I hear you and see you everywhere. Laughing, smiling that cheeky, naughty smile. Walking through the door, poking your head through the kitchen door; “are we going to eat today?”  Typical! Anxious questions from people, full of attitude, who can’t cook to save their own lives.

“Thandie, I don’t understand why I need to learn how to cook, when I am surrounded by people who know how to do so.”

It is really not surprising that you would say that, considering the fact that, Aunt K told this story by the way, you used to bribe late Uncle Wano, with extra portions of food, to do the cooking for you, when grandma had specifically asked you to cook.

I have never met anyone so opposed to cooking. To each our own lanes, right?

I cannot bring myself to say ‘was’, when I feel your presence all the time. I don’t think I ever will say was.

You are everywhere. I like the fact that you are everywhere. I hope you stay everywhere. It is the everywhere that makes your absence, the silence so loud.

The silence stays with me. It has been with me since the day you left. You left me. Logically I know that is mad, you would never want to leave but it is how I felt in the beginning. Friends don’t leave friends behind, right?

“What kind of friendship is this Thandie?” LOL

“What kind of friendship is this Daddy?”

I know you, so I know you would never leave of your own accord. Aaaah, the irrational emotional orchestra of death.

Remember that nonsense I spewed about pink caskets? During my pink phase. What ghastly colour! I am not sure if, it is ghastly because I overdid it or it just is but whatever the case it is just ghastly. You said “I am never getting you a pink casket! I am not getting you any kind of casket. Parents do not bury their kids. I will go before you.”

I guess you kept your word. You could have given me a little bit of warning. A sign, hey my girl, I am off now. Or maybe you did, you stopped looking into my eyes. You looked everywhere but my eyes. I thought I had more time. I thought I had more.

The silence stays with me.

The silence took my voice too. I am already not much of a talker but the silence took the little that I had. The words usually exist in my head and even then, in my head, they no longer exist. Today, is when the words decided they want to come out.

I call it an orchestra of death, all that has happened. It has all the high and low notes, with the dramatic effects.

I prayed for you. That Tuesday afternoon and all through the night I prayed for you. I kept saying, heal my dad, he is not done living his life. Honestly, that was a lie. I was not ready to let go. I still need you. There is so much life ahead of me, that I don’t know how to live right now, that I wanted you to be a part of.

You know, I finally stepped out of the house on Saturday, I mean I have been getting out of the house but this was different. I was actively going to be with other human beings. It sucked! I went to Thyolo, and that was the only place that made sense. The trees standing still, only the leaves and the tea leaves gently and slowly moving, they made sense. They are slow enough for my soul to recognize or maybe they are slow enough to witness me.

The world has moved on. How does the world move? The world around me still beats to the rhythm of the ‘Warm Heart of Africa,’ they laugh and they dance. They talk and they, they just are. The world still has a pulse, beating! It is still vibrant and all I want to do is scream ‘STOP!’ Stop with me, just stop with me and when I am ready, please learn to walk again with me. Of course they move on, you were not their dad, you were mine.

They say sorry. Said with the best of intentions. That you find some comfort in the word ‘Sorry.’ Sorry feels callous. I know, I used to say it too and I cringe now. I don’t think I will ever say that to someone ever again.


It does not pick up the million pieces of my heart that lay on the floor.


You are still gone.

You do not ask God question. Mmmmmmh. I think we should ask. Ask as many questions as possible. Let them flow out of your body. Let the anger flow.

I prayed for you. On the hour, every hour, I got down on my knees, at the foot of my bed and prayed. All through the night that ushered in the morning of Wednesday, July 15th.

Even as I lay in bed, my troubled heart said a thousand prayers.

3AM: As I prayed, a beam of beautiful golden light cut through the darkness from Heaven to Earth.

4AM: I stood in a grand hall, shimmering white and you lay at the foot of a grand throne. Then I saw your spirit leave your body. I have never seen you dance like that, like you do not have a bad hip.


I opened my eyes and I felt the silence. The troubled heart stood still. Calm and quiet. The world around me mirrored my heart.

5AM: We made the last breakfast that you would never eat.

6AM: Parked in the hospital car park, waiting for the morning report from mum. When she finally came out she said “He is very quiet.”  She headed back in with the breakfast we had prepared.

7AM: mum calls “they are not letting me into the ward.”

7:20AM: curled up in a fetal position in the front seat of the car, my heart as quiet as I have ever known it to be, the phone rings, my sister who is sitting next to me, picks up, a few words and hangs up.

“It is mum’s number but there is a woman on the other end of the line that is not mum saying we should go.”

My heart cracked, in that moment I knew but I refused to believe you were gone.

My feet carried me out of the car, walking as fast as they would carry me towards the hospital ward. Limba is walking behind me. The phone rings again,

“Noooooo, No mum, no, no, no, no, nooooooooo!”

My feet start running, running down the corridor. Running from the truth of Limba’s cries! Running, running to you, where you are is where the truth is. It is only true until someone says the words. They have to say the words.

Aunt Jean met me at the door. It is the look in her eyes. My heart cracks some more. I think there is pity in her eyes, empathy maybe and hesitant. She does not want to shatter my world but she has the awful task of doing so. I put my hand up, to stop the words before they come out of her mouth.

She leads to a room and on the floor is mum, broken. I have never seen her that broken. She has to say it. It is not true until she says it. “Thandie, Dad is gone,” and my heart shatters into a million pieces, the legs that have carried me for 30 years turn to liquid and I crumble to the floor into mum’s arms.

It was a beautiful day, that day. The birds were singing and leaves were rustling up in the trees but it was quiet. The sun is a dazzling, shimmering gold and yet it did not hurt to look at it.

The silence is what stays with me. It is loud and quiet. It is loud and quiet.

I did not think I could celebrate my birthday today because of an orchestra of death but they showered me with love. They messaged, they called and they sang, all of the beautiful and wonderful people I call family and friends. They spoilt me with love and I found myself enjoying the day because of an orchestra of life and because you would want me to.

I miss you!

“What happened to the stars?

There was an orchestra of life playing today.

Always and Forever. I lOVE YOU!

  • Reply
    September 28, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Oh what a beaitiful tribute…
    We miss you Mr T.

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