A Death in the family

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It’s been a while since the last time all of us came together like this. Everyone was there, except for Morne’ who moved to America a few years ago. Abby and I arrived in a gray Avanza soccer mom van. Donay and Alicetine were parked across Gershwin’s house when we got there. They assumed that nobody was home and didn’t bother to knock. It turned out that Gershwin was inside the entire time. Donay gained a bit of weight since the last time I saw her, the navy blue frame hugging dress did not hide anything, but she still had those cute dimples embedded in her cheeks. Lesley, Cleaven and Kyle arrived later to complete the party of friends. We were all there for Gershwin whose father passed away last week after losing a battle to cancer. The lounge was filled with more laughter than sadness due to nostalgia and memories we replayed to each other. Abby and I were the subject of ridicule about our virginity, Alicetine being the main instigator as usual. Inside we knew that he was hurting, the laughter a temporary relief from the pain.
The group began to thin out eventually with Lesley leaving first. Gershwin and I walked her to her Volkswagen mini van. It was dark then, close to 8PM. Abby and I left after she did, but not before Gershwin stopped me saying he needed to speak to me.

“Look bra, I just want to thank you for being there for my father whenever he needed to go to the hospital when I was away in Kimberley. Thank you for being there as a friend when I needed you. You have no idea how much I appreiciate it and how much it means to me.”  he said.

“You don’t need to thank me, G. It was a pleasure. It’s what friends are for” I replied

“I still want to say thank you” he ended off
In the process of shaking hands and bumping shoulders, his head fell against my chest. He couldn’t hold back the tears any longer, crying into my maroon shirt, penetrating tears. Lifting his head, I saw the tears streaming down his face. I could feel the tears that I’d been holding back, wanting to burst forth as I hugged him, but I had to be strong and keep them at bay.
Growing up, death never really affected me. I felt no need to shed a tear when seeing others around me weeping, my tear ducts dry as desert sands. I always thought that it would happen when my grandmother or one of my parents descended into the the brown earth, never to return. Yet it happened with someone who I never knew very long. In the short space of time of getting to know Gershwin’s father – two or three drives to the hospital and sitting together in the waiting room two hours early – He had such a strong impact in such a short amount of time. When I think about him no longer being around, a tear falls down the side of my face. Who knew that his father, a man I knew for less than a year… Would be the one to teach me about loss? 

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