I miss you for so many reasons. Some are selfish, others not so much.
I feel shame that I haven’t called your mum in a long time. But Uch, what do I tell her? I’m equally ashamed that I haven’t kept up with little Chimdi and Nene and Amuche. I feel that I have let you down. I have failed to console your family; I have failed you in our friendship.
People say it gets better with time. Time, after all, heals all wounds. I don’t think it gets better. I just think we adapt to living with the wounds, and with time, the wounds become a part of us so that we can’t even remember a time without them.
Sometimes, I feel you around, and in these moments, I randomly recall old jokes that we shared. And when I hear your laugh, for a really brief moment, I believe that you have come back. And that death didn’t win.
When I remember these random things, I start to laugh out loud in my room. Most times, I’m alone. Other times, my housemate hears me. I know he hears me because once he complained about me being loud. But this was after I told him off for his untidy ways. Maybe he was lying to get back at me, maybe he wasn’t. I don’t care though. I miss you.
I miss you for so many reasons. Some are selfish, others not so much. I miss the inspiration you served me daily. Who else did I know worked at Microsoft straight out of undergrad? Who else graduated college with a 3.9 GPA and was the best engineering student in her year? Remember how you and Amuche won the same engineering award from your school, three years apart, and how your professors jokingly asked if another Okeke was on her way to claim the award?
But even more than being the benchmark, you were such a great friend. I hate myself a little for using the word ‘great’. It’s so bland, it’s so average; it doesn’t even begin to describe you. Uch, you were amazing. You constantly put family, friends, work colleagues, everyone but yourself, first. You would pleasantly take on a multitude of projects at the office so that deadlines could be met. You were the most devoted aunt; Baby Chimdi was your pride and you let him know how much you loved him each time you saw him.
During my graduation when my pregnant aunty couldn’t make it and there was no one to drive the rented car, you questioned why I was fretting. Of course you would drive it! You were doing what you knew how to do best: put others first. (I can hear you teasing me about my lack of a driver’s license. Soon I promise!)
When Piriye called me that night, I didn’t cry straight away. I was confused. She spoke of a car accident but I knew it couldn’t be you. We were working on your Harvard MBA application. You couldn’t have died. In that moment, I understood what it was like to run mad, to prefer to live in denial because reality was too painful. I wanted to call Piriye back and tell her to stop spreading rumors. But when friends started to call to find out how I was doing, I knew it was true. Then the tears came. I wish I had changed my flight schedule like you had asked me to so we could fly together. But it’s too late now.
My dad caught me sobbing once at night. In the days after your death, it was not unusual to randomly wake up and start to cry. Instead of consoling me like everyone else had done, he challenged me. He said: “Don’t simply mourn Uche, but turn your tears into something productive. Do something in her honor. Start something, start a cause.” And then it hit me. There was no reason to let death stop you from inspiring me.
I love you Uch. I always will. You were always the better friend.
Rest in Peace, Uchenna Okeke (July 22 1989 – June 20 2011).
About the author: Somachi Chris-Asoluka is passionate about family and friendship. Other passions include creative writing and economic development.
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.