Thursday, March 27, 2014

That's What Friends Are For

I pride myself on the fact that I share very special relationships with my students that go far beyond textbooks and Grammar. 

When Yahya Zwita, from Libya, opened his heart and told me that his friend, Mohamed (aged 20) committed suicide at the beginning of the month, I knew that I had to be there for this young gentleman. Far from home for the first time in a foreign country with family and friends far away, I instinctively took on the role of his big sister.

During one of our conversations, he told me that he wanted to give a presentation / tribute about his friend. I immediately agreed and said I would help him in any way I could.

For his tribute today, Yahya spoke to a group of about 25 students - all his peers. Voluntarily, he put himself in the spotlight...and spoke. I have always maintained that "Words that come from the heart, enter the heart." This was exactly what happened this afternoon.

I teared as he spoke so fondly about his friend. An hour later, as I drove home, I stopped at the beach and looked out at the vast ocean before me. My thoughts traveled to Lydia Labuschagne, who is at this moment, fighting for her life at a hospital in Jerusalem.

It's not the kind of message anyone expects, but when I learned about Lydia's sudden admission to hospital, I have been in constant contact with friends around the world about this. I first met Lydia when her family moved to East London and Lydia joined my class in Std 1. We were 9 years old.

On my way to work this morning, I had a devotional song playing in my car. I surprised myself when, as I neared work, tears trickled down my cheeks. The song took me back to Johannesburg, a month ago when I was at the final prayer for my uncle, who suddenly passed away.

It always intrigues me why people cry after hearing about death. Is it because one is sad that the person will no longer be around? Will the physical body of the late person be missed or what they stood for and the role they play in others' lives. Do we cry over guilt or regret of not saying certain things to the person who has left us? Is it a matter of "If only..." or "I wish..."?

Death always brings us to a standstill. With our extremely busy lives, we spin around from dawn to dusk, not stopping to acknowledge. To appreciate. To say "thank you".

Blessings can be found in the darkest situations - even amidst news of death. With our friend, Lydia lying in hospital now, I have been talking to school friends after many months. The best part about it is that it feels as though no time has passed. This is the beauty of friendship.

This blog is dedicated not only to Yahya and his friend, Mohamed, but to my school friend, Lydia, who is so dearly loved by one and all who knew her. To say she is a ray of sunshine to many is not an understatement. Together, we hold faith that our prayers will be heard and that Lydia will soon return to her family.

Yahya's tribute ended with this song:

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