It has been a year since my cousin Maphanki died. I remember a friend and colleague telling me that I will experience a lot of firsts now that she is not here anymore; the first Christmas without her, her first birthday without her and of course the first year without her. It’s a strange feeling. For me I guess, her absence is a lot less intense as I am away from home anyway and she is not a part of my everyday life.
When I was home for a few days in March and was looking for an oven dish to bake chicken for lunch, I nearly shouted out her name to come show me when my mother now stores her dishes. That was my first time really experiencing that she is not there anymore.
I think about Maphanki all the time. I think about what she would be doing if she was still around. She was saving to buy a car and was planning to get a place of her own. I think about her every time we sing ‘the wheels on the bus’ with Neo because she had her own remix of the song that she would sing.
On the lead up to a year after her death, I have been thinking a lot more about her; trying to figure out what the lesson is (if any) I can learn from her death. Maphanki was no saint, not by any stretch of the imagination; she was human and she had faults just like any other person. But she was also so funny and had a sense of humour that always had me laughing out loud. She was insightful and had the most beautiful singing voice. She loved helping out and was a people’s person getting along with most people. She cared for her family and was protective of them to a fault. She was ambitious, caring and generous.
When I think about her and her death, I keep telling myself not to hold myself back and not to postpone living. I have today and she doesn’t and there’s no reason to not fully live.
I realised this when we were away on holiday and we hired bicycles in San Francisco to cycle the Golden Gate Bridge. I am not a confident cyclist and I was absolutely terrified of getting on the bicycle. Of course I would not give up but that’s when I realised that fear is almost always present in my life. I am afraid that I am not a good parent; a good wife or a good friend; the list is endless. I am afraid of getting out of my comfort zone and trying new and completely different things. I am afraid of too many things and really this fear has to stop because I am holding me back.
Instead of looking at pictures of Maphanki and being sad, I am pledging to live a little more, do a little more and be harder on myself. I want her to be proud of me wherever she is.
Ah Maphanki… I miss you all the time.