Thanks for visiting my blog. This blog chronicles a mostly 4-year journey of love, life, and loss. It's now time to retire. However, feel free to browse and read through the posts.
My current work/projects can be accessed at

Monday, December 30, 2013

On Turning 23

God blesses those who mourn for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4, NLT)

It’s 1 a.m. when Papa phones me and everyone on the floor is asleep. His voice sounds just like it did when I was 12, and Mama fell out of the sky. He tells me you are gone. Gone? I ask how. He tells me you were sick. I ask him why he never told me you were sick. He forgot. He forgot to tell me that your stomach kept hurting when they came to visit you in hospital. He forgot to tell me that you had fainted on Christmas day, when you saw Jesus, when you tasted heaven before you came back and it was only three weeks and then you were gone home for good. I don’t feel when the tears start to burn the hollows and I forget to breath. I am remembering the unwritten email. I am thinking about the girl next door. Was it yesterday that she found out her dad had leukemia and she stayed awake crying? I had sat next to her. Quiet. I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know what to say, but here I am too, crying. I claw the carpet. I scratch my leg, my nails drawing along the scars I had etched on myself when I was younger and I had the tantrum. I ask God why. I call the boy. I want him to tell me why. I call the teacher and he tells me that I shouldn’t ask God questions because I might not like the answers He gives me.

So I write. I write to you. A poem. A letter. A song. A tribute. A stream of consciousness. Metaphors no one will understand, memories no one will decipher. An email you will never reply to. I make a video. I write a devotional. I fill a journal. I wear a red scarf and I write about being in the presence of your Great Absence. I write for three years. I write from all the angles I can imagine. I create characters, I set the scenes, I paint the sky grey. I am the doctor who sees you on your last day, I am Mama who washes you, I am the employee who works in the building next door. I am you. I want to take your place. Like the day Mama fell out of the sky, and I asked God to take her broken vertebrae and fuse it with my bones. Is this what they call love? Is this obsession? Pretense? I am in your memories, and yet I am not there? Mama visits me and tells me I am like you, but is this true? Did they see me when I was walking with you, after I hurt myself, after you tell me about God and I had not opened my Bible in weeks, after I mourn about the boy I love who doesn’t love me? Did they see me? Did they see me when I thought to myself that I would always believe in your God, that I would try to live like you if only to see you when I am gone too?

They say my hair is wild so Mama offers to braid it, but the braids unfurl in my dreams, untamed. My hair looks like it did when we were four or five, and I wore that checkered skirt and rainbow shirt. Did you know I wore the same clothes when we had taken a photo that Sunday before in front of Barclays bank? Did you know that a bicycle ripped my ankle and I had to get a dressing every week? Tradition says that I should forget those who are gone, so I remember them when no one is looking. I think about them when I am in the matatu in Eldoret and we are driving from Oasis down Nandi road and I begin counting all the hospitals I have visited. I think about my grandfather when he killed the rabbit and roasted it. I think about my grandmother and the voice that I never heard. I think about my cousins. The car accidents. The strokes. The gunshot wounds. I think about my teacher from primary school and the day I visited him in hospital before the cancer ate up his liver. He had been my favorite teacher. I think about people I do not know. Mostly, I think about you. How I stayed close to you in that photo. How we were two or three when we cheered for those kids who had graduated from Bunny’s Kindergarten. Did you know that after I joined Bunny’s (and you went to Lion’s) we visited a Hindu temple and I bowed before god Shiva? Did you know that after I joined Makini I asked the students if they knew you? I did not remember your first name, so I said,“Tai. Her name is Tai.”

I have a photo of your photo and it sits on my desk. I look at it when I wear red lipstick, and I remember it as I am cutting my birthday cake today. It doesn’t fit into the six by four frame I have bought, so I wedge it next to the bookmark I have not yet addressed to myself. The one that declares, “Be still and know that I am God.” I bought the frame because of the Bible verse lining the edges, infamous make-you-feel-good Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” This is the verse to tell you not to be scared because someone somewhere has your hope and your future. I have already been told that it has been taken out of context, used to pamper dreams that do not match the original intentions. I never quote the verse. I have replacements. Replacements when I think about the context plans and out-of-context plans. The unfinished book. The story that’s taking me one year to write. The “feminist” essay. The memories that only come to me at 1 a.m. The things I can only write after I have cried. This pina colada cake on turning 23. I will give away the photo frame when I graduate. I no longer want reminders of what was, what got broken, what got lost, what got wasted.[1] Yet I know I will carry the photo of your photo with me, because I think finally this is what they call love: That day when we are two or three, and the ground is a dusty white, and we are thinking about a hope and a future. That day when I don’t create characters or set scenes or paint the sky grey. I am in God’s Great Story. At last, every chapter is better than the one before.[2]

If DEATH my friend and me divide,
thou dost not, Lord my sorrow chide,
or frown my tears to see;
restrained from passionate excess
thou bidst me mourn in calm distress
for them that rest in thee.

I feel a strong immortal hope,
which bears my mournful spirit up
beneath its mountain load;
redeemed from death, and grief, and pain,
I soon shall find my friend again
within the arms of God.

Pass a few fleeting moments more
and death the blessing shall restore
which death has snatched away;
for me thou wilt the summons send,
and give me back my parted friend
in that eternal day.

-Charles Wesley, 1762

The photo of your photo

[1] Joan Didion, Blue Nights
[2] C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle


  1. The photo of your photo. :') You just reminded me of Chimamanda. The vivid descriptions. Beautiful.

  2. Just beautiful. The words just flawless. So so deep

    1. Thank you Donna! She really is one of my greatest inspirations.

  3. Wow! This is wonderful writing. I just do not know how to describe it. Exudes emotions. Deep.

    1. Thank you! It's heavily influenced by the writing of Joan Didion, specifically her memoir Blue Nights, where she writes about the experience of losing her daughter. She's one of my favorite writers of all time, and I'm no match for her at all. Anyway thank you again, I see you have a blog I will check it out. :-)

  4. Hey Miriam, are you OK? I hope you are. This broke my heart. You know Caro was my classmate at main I. And we used to be bussmates. And neighbors at upper hill. I used to visit her other at her home near Kenyatta on foot. We had good times. But because of the nature of boarding school at alliance we fell out of touch kidogo. And I was so heartbroken so heartbroken when I got the news. I cried so much. I regretted the distancing. Men. I had my mum go to the funeral and send me all the pictures and documents for the memorial service. It bothered me so much. Death deeply affects me. But I began to emerge out of that and other related incidences with a penchant for life- a commitment to LIVE. Live passionately because that's ball I can control. Or somewhat control.the OK only way I no how to challenge death is tons top living like a zombie, and olive like I only have one chance.
    i know we are not particularly close, but in the comradeship of alumni, and in our sisterhood with Caro, I send you much love, and hopes that you gain greater fervor for life, for her, for all our loved ones who have transitioned, and for yourself. Do.

    1. Hey Winnie thanks for your kind words! I really appreciate it. I am doing okay, very okay, and I have a zest for life thanks to God's unending grace and love. This narrative "On Turning 23" is less of reflective of my current state of mind/life, and more of how I process life and choose to write about it. I learn how to write better and differently by taking apart honest moments and my life and layering it with other parts to create something I hope will be beautiful. It does break my heart to write it, but I also get very refreshed by it because I love to write. I'm not very sure how to explain it, or if anyone will understand it, perhaps find it crazy, but such moments of grief make me feel most alive, and reflective about where I want to go and who I want to become. Also, I wrote the piece above after reading Joan Didion's Blue Nights, and her work inspired me on how to write differently about I hope people can read it also on the creative non-fiction aspect as on the honesty of my love for Caro. But you are right, we face death by living passionately - and I will do so, everyday :-)

  5. There's a lot of spelling issues pole coz this my mobile device kept auto correcting. You will get the gist of the message. Hugs.

  6. I can only send you e-hugs...this just broke my heart. I still remember when you heard the news back at Dartmouth...i don't understand death and loss

    1. Thank you Christabell, I rejoice because Christ has overcome even, especially, death. Thank you for being there for me through it all!! I am so grateful to have had you for my freshman year, and now that I am senior, seeing how far God has brought me, I thank Him even more for it.