my grandfather, lost girls, and a declaration

My grandfather sleeps in a chair,
his head hangs low and his chin rests on his chest
Sometimes I am awake late at night
three in the morning and he will have migrated to the kitchen table

The other night, I awoke from a nightmare,
with cold sweats and a need for water I followed my steps down to the
lower level of my safe home
of my warm home, always filled with inexpressible joy despite
my circumstance – these walls are packed with comfort
nostalgia and a sweetness that I am more thankful for now than ever before

So, when my toes hit the hard wood floor
a chill embraces the soles of my feet and I am slowly approaching
the sink with a hazy sleep covering my eyes
he is there, asleep at the kitchen table
head hanging low, soft breaths inhale and exhale
I want to convince myself that he is peaceful,
That he knows no discomfort
that old age is natural and this
is an ending to a beautiful life and how privileged am I to
wake up the next morning,
See him at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal and a smile on his
Face, telling me of the cardinals outside the window,
‘So bright, they are so bright’ he says.

This is my declaration,
that old age is unnatural
That discomfort and sorrow are not to be accepted as
an additional factor of daily life

Yes, my heart is wrenching for a reason when I
see him in the middle of the night, sitting up,
shoes on, jacket on, glasses on
in an odd lighting of the late evening
morning hours, sometimes, when it seems all the world
is sleeping and I am alone
and the soles of my feet are now freezing and longing
for the comfort of my bedroom carpet

So, this is what I must declare
old age is unnatural
sorrow and discomfort, they were not intended for me
and just like this I am swallowed up by the realities of this great big world around me
What else was not intended?

276 girls abducted in Nigeria
by a terrorist group, Boko Haram
Their school set ‘ablazed’, their innocence stripped, their families torn a part
There is more to say
but that is enough.

This is enough,
My heart cries out ‘O God, where are you?’

‘Great, sovereign king, where did you go?
Are your eyes open?
Have your hands failed to save?’

This Christmas season, this ‘most wonderful time of the year’
has been consumed by my inability to comprehend these tragedies
my helplessness, my anxieties, oh how these great monsters within
me have bent my hope into desperation

My heart knows this compassion that is undeniably
crippling when given the opportunity to destroy
This is what I declare
That the discomfort I see in my grandfather,
is representative of the unnatural occurrences of this life
This overwhelming weight I feel from the circumstance of this world
was not meant for me to bare

No, it is not about me at all

When my heart cries out ‘O God, where are you?’
I am met with an undeniable peace
I am told that these sorrows were not meant for me
That these abductions were not meant for them
That these tragedies do not have the final say

This is unnatural, this is not solely the ‘way of life’
This is death, the sorrow and the stealing
my memory sings ‘O death, where is your sting’

The answer is obvious, the sting is all around me
in my grandfathers aging
in our world’s nauseating terrorism

My mind struggles to believe this death has been conquered,
but my heart knows it to be true
What is left for me to say?
The comfort is found in the cardinal,
in the morning where the sun wakes again,
Washes the night terrors away and even with
A sour taste in my mouth I can say

‘O God, where are you?’
and he will answer in the courage of a young Nigerian girl
escaped from the Boko Haram
Her face pure and grace abounding so freely from her soul that you know it is
only a Sovereign King who could replenish her young eyes,
eyes that have seen the unspeakable, He renews and
makes hopeful again

And He will answer in the morning
in my grandfather’s greeting,
Yes, in this darkness I will believe there is goodness –
So bright, He is so bright.

I will let my faith conquer
inexplicable tragedy
I was not meant for sadness, for death is unnatural
when you are meant to be alive
I was made to be alive and I will rejoice in this.


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