Three Years On. How Can I Ever Forget Eben?

I am not good at remembering dates. I think apart from the regular Holidays such as Christmas, Independence, Children’s day etc, I am terrible with dates. But I know four dates. My birthday, my younger brother’s birthday, my significant other’s birthday, and Eben’s passing away date. How can I ever forget Eben? How can I ever forget July 9th, 2017?

Sometimes it seems so much like yesterday when I heard about his demise. Sometimes it seems so faraway, so 1994, so old that I struggle to remember any of the details. There is one thing that is very clear to me, however. I am frustrated.

The world is moving too fast from this fact: A very important man who is also my friend is dead and the whole world is acting like it never happened. Like they can live without Eben. Now, that is not the problem. My main frustration is that I am becoming like others, I am beginning to live without Eben. I am beginning to live as though Eben wasn’t such a big deal in my life. I am beginning to forget how Eben looks like, I am beginning to forget the ring of his voice, that laughter.

This breaks my heart. I so much wish for time to stand still or actually move backward to the time when Eben was here, or to the time when everyone mourned Eben. I promise to continue to remember Eben but I don’t remember him well enough. It seems Eben has been reduced to an annual blog post by me.

I feel so guilty.

I don’t know if I will ever do this again. Today may be the last time I write about Eben on this site.  I am beginning to struggle for what to say of him. I am beginning to struggle to find things to say about the memory of Eben and the void he left. I am beginning to feel like the rest of the people who have forgotten Eben.

I am so weak.

I don’t know how to salvage this situation. I don’t know how to mourn the pain I feel. I still miss my buddy but I am lost on how to show it; nay, to feel it. God help me. Please give me the fortitude to continue to remember and to mourn a friend I love so much.

July 9th would always be about you, Eben. Forever.

I am determined.

Eben: One Year On, Fresh Wounds

Dear Eben,

It has been a year since you left us. That day still feels like last week. One moment I was in a meeting, the next moment a phone call came in and that was the end of your journey here. Just like that, Eben, they announced your end. It felt untrue, an error or a cruel joke. 365 days later, you are still not here. Left to mourn you are hundreds of us, your people, and we have gathered like birds at the base of the fallen iroko that had sheltered many of us.

How do you mourn someone you didn’t prepare to bury? How do you move on from a bad news that is still fresh in your mind? How do you keep alive the memory of a friend in this crazy world where events move like steam engines and people are overwhelmed by situations closing in on them like a leaking floodgate?

If I had enough connection, I would create a foundation in your name. Ebenezer Centre for Leadership and Good Governance, a centre that would provide an avenue to try and make sense of the chaotic kitchen that Nigeria sometimes look like.

If I had plenty money, I would have founded Ebenezer Memorial High School in Zaria, a city you love so much and where your bones lay. I would come to town every graduation day and remind students, parents and guests what a great man you are.

If I had magical powers like the Red Priestess of Asshai, I would command you back to life.

I have none of this.

I have a heart and in here you will live for as long as I live. I know this is insufficient but no one ever claimed yours is a gap that can ever be filled. Your departure left us with a large room which will always remain a vacuum which, from time to time, we will go in an echo your name.

I have a faith in Jesus of Nazareth whom you also believe in. It is my fervent hope that one day, when I leave this marletplace call earth, we would meet again at His bosom. I would walk up to you with tears in my eyes, hug you and say, “Baba na, kwana biu.”

Yours faithful,