Earlier this year, I lost a friend to the ever dreaded Cancer and although we knew that death was a possibility, we didn’t expect it that soon after diagnosis. I have lost quite a number of friends over the years to different tragedies and diseases but this one hit hardest. With every death comes a realization that life is short and we need to make the most of it while we still have it, but what was different about this particular incident was that she passed away from Nairobi Hospital and her body had to be flown back home. Up until that point, I had never known how much procedure is involved in flying the remains of a fallen person back home. Since one of our friends was with the deceased at the time of death, she had to take on the responsibility of making sure the Body returned home safe.
It was through this experience that I discovered that when they fly out the remains of a person, on the cargo label of a casket is written “Cargo without Value”. This gave me the chills as you can imagine, and that’s probably why it’s taken me this long to write this post, but it had to be written because the facts of life need to be faced head on.
I was stunned and definitely shaken as you can imagine as I couldn’t bring myself to believe a whole human being can be referred to as “cargo without value”. It’s appalling!! This person was a wife, a mother of three, a daughter and a friend!! So what do you mean ‘without value’. I know it’s in reference to taxes, meaning that it’s of no taxable value but it got me thinking and questioning everything about life. To think that one day you’re so full of life, dreams, expectations and the very next you’re tagged “cargo without value” is definitely a hard pill to swallow for anyone. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. And then it got me thinking about how much value we attach to useless material things when we’re still alive yet the only value we have is when we are alive and the lives we impact while here so that when we’ve crossed over to the other side the lives we impacted will value us.
Nobody will remember that red dress you wore at the wedding, or that car you drove, or that Rolex watch you kept flaunting, actually no one will care when you’re gone except the people you made feel loved and appreciated, the people you helped get through school, the people you comforted in their hour of need; that’s what they will remember. For my friend what stood out the most is she loved children so much she bought the chairs to start the Sunday school at her local church. How endearing.
Shortly after the loss of my friend, I lost an Uncle and an aunt within a week difference and as their families and friends read their eulogies, I realized one thing, no one talked about the mansions they had built, or the fancy cars they owned. No one! Everyone who gave a speech talked about how the deceased had impacted their life, financially, emotionally, name it. It was all about the impact they had on the lives, not what they had.
I sat in that cathedral during that service and thought to myself, “I wonder what people will say when I die; “Diane went to school, or worked at NWSC, or had 4 siblings?” what will they say…. I wondered. And then I asked myself “what would you like people to say about you when you’re no longer on earth”. I came up with a few things I’d like said about me, and then I asked myself “are those things true about you? Are you living them right now? Do you know your purpose? Are you living in it? Do you know your destination? We never think of these things and yet the sad truth is our final destination on this earth is the grave through death, cant run from it, cant hide from it.
It was a tough time for me but it sparked a need for self-evaluation and assessment. I then made a promise to myself to go on a self-seeking journey to discover my purpose and live it before it’s too late. To stop focusing on the trivial things and fully enjoy the life I’ve been given. I also decided to turn my life around so that When I die people will remember me how I want them to remember me.
So with that said, ask yourself today “How would I like to be remembered?” “Am I that person now?” and then go forth into the world and Be that person. Do whatever you need to do, or aspire to do to leave your mark on the world. You are the change you want to see in the world.
Just remember all those people who would’ve wished to stay alive so they can get it together or do something but are long gone, and you’re here, ALIVE, and you have that privilege. So what are you going to do with it?
R.I.P Sarah, Kato, and all the friends and loved ones I’ve lost over the years. Till we meet again.