The Fateful Day: Fast-forward a few years, and its 22 October, 2005.
I went to bed that night not knowing my brother's plane had crashed three minutes after takeoff. I had tried his number to tell him I arrived safely in Ibadan, but it was continuously engaged. That was normal in Nigeria, where the telephone lines may not get through on time. I left him at home tidying things up and he told me he might travel to Abuja if he gets a seat. To be honest, I wasn't listening well. My brother travels a lot so it was not a big deal. But I didn't know it would be our last conversation.
He was not meant to be on that plane. As we were informed, he went to the airport twice trying to get a seat. ‘If you get a free seat call me’, he told the airline customer service person.
I woke up hearing the news that a plane had crashed. ‘How sad’ I thought ‘the world is always full of bad news; no news is good news except the Gospel’. A few hours later his driver called me saying he thinks that was the flight he took. I called his number, still engaged. Then I called his friend who told me the bad news, his plane crashed. I cannot remember what he said. I fainted into my husband, Dare’s hands.
When I came to, I was still confident that my brother would survive, after all there were news reports that the plane had been located. ‘My brother is a survivor, he is our cat with nine lives’, I kept saying, while trying to follow the news about plane’s whereabouts. ‘He will make it even if there was only one survivor!’ So I thought. I had watched too many movies. It took almost 24 hours before the Nigerian Government located the plane, previous news were just lies. I realized no one could have survived when I watched the news.
No one survived. The plane buried itself in a swamp in Ifako, Lagos State. There were body parts everywhere. But I didn't even get a fingernail!
When we could finally visit the site five days later, the plane was still burning. How could this happen to us? Why should God allow this to happen? It was one thing for my brother to die; it was another for him to die like this.
Anger and Pain: I thought God owed me an explanation. I knew he was dead but why did he have to die like this? How can I explain this pain of a sudden gruesome death of a young successful man who had started from nothing; of not having a body to bury; of not having a good farewell for such a fabulous loved man? That hurt so much and still does.
Choices and the Battle for my mind: In my pain I was faced with two choices: break down completely because that was the only logical way to express my pain, or keep fighting God. I know no one can fight God and live. And I wanted to live sanely.
I was expected to breakdown because I had been too close to him. Besides no one would have been surprised if I did, the pain was too much for even those that were not that close to him. But I made up my mind to stay strong. There was no use falling apart when I had to take strong decisions. Besides I told myself if the devil takes my brother, he won't take my mind.
I thought to myself: ‘I will win this; the Devil won't have the final laugh’. I have been prepared to be a strong woman for a time like this by this man. I must pull myself together and not fail him now.
The next few days saw me draw strength I didn't know I could muster. The next few months saw me take decisions I never knew I could take. I kept saying what will my brother have asked me to do and I did it. I stood by what he had taught me to be true, to the values he held dearly.
Moving On: Over the years, I have learnt to know God owes no one any explanation. How dare I question God? He is sovereign. He asked Job ‘where were you when I formed the earth?’
I don't want to lose his memory, but there is no way I can remember him without thinking of his death, the shock, and the pain. He was not ill before the gruesome death. The fact that we got no body to bury didn't help me find a closure on time. I always dreamt that I keep searching for him, in real life, since appears as if he just disappeared so that explains my dreams. But when you count your blessing you give thanks
I don't hurt everyday. Most times I think of the good memories of my brother and how he would advise me. I sometimes feel frustrated that he isn't here to give me advice on things that I know he was so good at, but I must say God has surrounded me with great people. I always find the counsel I need from others somehow.
Please don't think I truly understand why God allowed this. I don't. But I know God is a good God. I know He is good because He gave me strength, a good husband to help with the loss, keeps opening great doors for me, gives me ease with what others struggle with. All these can only happen because God is good. I cannot save myself talk less of anyone, our lives are in His hands; we can do nothing to keep ourselves.
My brother touched lives, he was a very good man to everyone, and nobody can say a single negative thing about him; though I know he could have a temper but I think that was because he was too passionate about what he believed in. He only gave his life to Christ few days before so that gives me great comfort that we will see again. There is always a reason to give thanks.
I know God is good all the time and my being a Christian does not stop bad things from happening. It doesn't shield me from pain or hurt, but my faith in Christ gives me hope. Hope gives me a future to believe that He makes all things good. The lesson I have learnt is that there is always a reason to give thanks. I thank God for being loved the way I was and I thank God for still being loved now. I don't know how to say it better.
Busola Adeniji writes from Liverpool, United Kingdom.