by Akan Nweke
I recently received news that a friend of my younger sister, who was also a family friend died last week from gun shots by robbers. She had been an eighteen year old student of Covenant University and had left school for Lagos when this unfortunate incident happened. My younger sister has not stopped crying for days now. I am still very distraught.
Late last year I also lost a very good friend of mine to cancer of the stomach while he was away for his Masters degree in the UK. I attended the funeral with eye whites flecked with red; my heart breaking all over again when I remembered his smile.
Eight years ago, I lost three young friends of mine to an accident, malaria, and sickle cell respectively. They were just mid way through their university degrees and had high hopes and dreams.
Death as we know is inevitable. It occurs as certainly as birth does. Anyone that is born must surely die, and this has been going on since the world began, but it doesn’t mean we have gotten used to it. I lost my mum at forty five and I still think she was too young to die. I still haven’t quite gotten over it and may never; she really was an amazing woman.
I wrote a piece a few months ago, titled Of Legacies and Remembrances to try and make humorous sense of the pain of losing someone dear from the point of view of the one who has passed. And in my piece, I created a fantasy where the person was worried about the legacy they left behind and constantly looked for affirmations that they had been on the right path.
I thought of this most of the day before deciding to write this piece; battling with the unintended morbidity this may portray. However we must talk about it because it is not only old people who die. Young people do too, and we cannot afford to wait till we are old to begin to think of a legacy, taking for granted that we will live till our nineties.
What is a legacy? Dictionaries tell of things like a gift; something to be remembered for; a bequest; and not always of money. Your legacy speaks of your essence, which will be unmistakably unique to you and clearly apparent on your passing, whatever the age.
To be conscious of death is to be conscious of life. People who are committed to leaving something behind are more likely to live better lives. Jesus who was constantly aware of his mission; to die for mankind, lived his short life with his eyes on the goal and did everything to attain that goal.
It’s a new year, and just like we have short term, mid-term and long term goals, I believe a good goal for us which will be called an all-term goal should be to die well.
“Ah, am I not too young to be interested in that?” you may ask? You’re not at all! I really hope all the friends I lost in their twenties thought of this.
To die well is to live well. Living well involves a clear eyed approach to the issues in your life, refusing to be hood winked by the enemy of our souls; the devil and taking responsibility for all our actions. It is fool hardy at this point to be unaware of what is good and what is evil. Search God’s word for his standards for all of life’s issues and enlist the Spirit’s help in conforming.
Realizing also that God has given us talents; graces, passions, skills and abilities and would be very upset if we bury them (see Matthew 25:14-30). If you don’t do something about that writing, singing, web developing, football or preaching now that you’ve got your youth, and then you go to meet the Lord with talents still intact, do not expect the Lord to smile and be happy. Harsh words like ‘Lazy and lying servant’ may apply to you. We should do our best to avoid that.
A lot of grief is associated with death, particularly with the death of a young person. Families and friends mourn the loss greatly because they think the person did not get a chance to “live life”, to get married, have children, buy houses and so on. The pain and sadness is understandable. However, at the end of the day, we all would do well to live like every single day is our last; to leave behind an ever present legacy for the loved ones we leave behind.