It’s been one month and 8 days since I lost my earthily father Godwin Chukwuma Ogbuokiri . It feels like it had been a time warp characterizing both the longest and the shortest time period in my life.
The truth is most days I still cry from missing my Dad. I have since returned to practicing child and adult psychiatry, and ofcourse my job is centered on improving others’ mental wellbeing.
There are days my passion to help others fortifies me in those moments that I sit across from my ailing patients.
Then there days that I find others’ sadness and loss impacting mine – like hitting a healing scab and causing it to hurt perhaps even causing it to bleed all over again.
The truth is it’s not just in my practice that I am reminded of my loss , it ‘s literally everywhere!
Something happy happens and I immediately think “ oh I can’t wait to call and tell Dad”.
I get a condolence call from a less than familiar family friend , then I wish I could call my Dad to give me more context on that relationship, who’s that “ uncle “ again? Where do they live etc etc.
I am not sure whether these moments of longing to have conversations with my Dad will diminish with time or not , I just know that they take me by surprise and shock me right back into my reality- the one where I have lost my precious Dad to the ages💔
There have been comforting moments too , these moments that I am choosing to call “GOD (WIN) moments”.
These bring a loving thought , or a humorous memory to mind that automatically spreads a smile across my lips.
In those moments , not only am I reminded that he lived and loved us fully, but that his spirit is now with God and guiding us forevermore.
Some of these GOD(WIN) moments may feel like mere coincidences, however because I believe in the communion of saints – I know better.
Interestingly, whenever I experience a GOD(WIN) moment , I try to stamp it in reality by taking a picture, or having a conversation about it in real time with those around me. This helps me acknowledge what I am experiencing in real time and give it some level of validation.
You may be wondering what exactly are some of these GOD(WIN) moments? Well I will share a few…
The first time I had a real assurance that my Dad crossed over to paradise , occurred the morning after his death. DH * and I had changed our original travel plans and instead made a trip on that fateful Thursday to New Orleans- part of our plan to spend our wedding anniversary with my parents .
DH * made reservations at a hotel with a balcony in the New Orleans French quarters , which meant music poured out of the streets. At first our arrival into this business as usual part of town felt awkward… I had just lost my most precious father and life seemed to be moving on, as if the strangers on bourbon street were so clueless to my biggest loss.
We arrived back to our hotel after visiting my mother and siblings at the extended stay place where my Dad spent his last 10 days post discharge recovering , or at least so we thought, until he went for a routine PCP visit , had to be called back frantically to return to the ER for a ridiculously elevated white count, ended up in the ER, finally gets admitted, only to aspirate , get transferred to the ICU where he continued the fight for his life for almost 6 hrs before he gave up his spirit at around 9:15 am on 9.15.22.
If there ever was a good day to die , I suppose this might be it.
That day also happened to be the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows day. Significant for the Catholic feast day celebrating when Mary received the body of her son Jesus from the cross.
I just wasn’t quite ready to loose my wonderful father. However I was grateful that our Lady will also bring home my Dad to heaven on her feast day🙏🏾.
Dad didn’t wait for DH * and I to get to New Orleans.
Anyways, as DH * and I tried to settle in that first night on New Orleans , I heard a knock on the door . I exhaustedly wondered who could be knocking this late at night.?
Too tired to bother, I fell asleep exhausted in my day clothes ( a very unusual thing for me to sleep in my day clothes)
The music outside the balcony had eventually stopped close to midnight and did not start up again until the next morning.
As I peered my eyes open to the world and the new day, my thoughts wondered which reality I was waking up into, the one where I still had my lovely Dad or the one where I was now fatherless? 💔
Just on cue, one of my favorite songs came on loud over the street speakers. The song is called “ what’s up ? , by 4 non blonds”
Still laying on that bed , I began to tear up again.
Then there was this feeling of nostalgia – reminding me of my childhood days in my patriarchal home in Aba- Nigeria where I grew up on Hospital Road .
In that house, situated in a busy African street, early morning vendors greeted the new day with their loud music, as they opened their stores with songs like “ Good morning Jesus, good morning Lord”🎤
I immediately had this feeling that my Dad’s spirit was sending me reminders of my childhood days.
I cried some more.
Still laying in bed in my pool of tears , I Immediately began telling my DH * about this nostalgic feeling about my Aba home.
As I spoke , I saw DH have a puzzled look on his face , and asked me if I heard a knock on the door, before I could answer he opens the hotel door , looks up and down both hallways- no one!
“Hmm”, he exclaims and returns to sit next to me in bed.
Then as if on cue again , one of the all time love songs Celine Dion’s “ My heart will go on” from the Titanic begins to blare over those street speakers – near and far where you are , I believe that the heart does go on…🎤DH and I look at each other and in that instant it was clear , these specifically chosen songs were not just coincidental , Dad was giving us a message!
That song was very dear to my DH *for an entirely different reason …
I knew in that instant that my “ rascal Angel Dad“ just made it into heaven!!! He likely just rejoiced with Saint Peter who opened the gates of heaven to him, met up with his favorite saint St Rita , and his music loving self just found out where Heaven’s radio station was and was already requesting specific broadcasts for us to give us comfort, reassurance and yes a healthy dose of missing you tears.
Those early morning tears were cleansing. For me, they were a reminder of the communion of saints, a corridor open to believers, reassuring us that our blessed loved ones can still love on us from beyond this life.
There has been numerous other GOD(WIN)
Incidentally, my sister and her husband also had a lovely message sent to them once they landed in New Orleans on that same day that our Dad crossed into eternity.
Wearing Dad’s “EST 1939” hat in his honor
Theirs was in the form of an evangelical Uber driver who provided them support on their ride from the airport .
That evening , they told us the story of the stranger who not only was their Uber driver but also a gospel musician , complete with a record deal signed by an even more famous gospel musician , who coincidentally plays concerts in Nigeria of ALL places , oh and by the way lives an hour away from New Orleans but just enjoys driving Uber in Nawlins in order to meet people…. Coincidence ? Or a GOD(WIN) moment? …. You get to decide!
I am choosing to keep my spirit enlightened by the HOLY SPIRIT to receive ALL that God is sending my way these days , especially in my time of grief and sorrow .
This weekend we were led to leave the hustle behind and hike almost 20 miles with our children through the Canyons of the Narrows at Zion National Park.
My legs may be exhausted but my spirit of adventure and tenacity is refueled!
God knows what my soul needs and I am grateful he is feeding my soul to bring me healing and strength 🙏🏾
On this trip , we also got to see the Michael Jackson ONE show as a reward after our long hike !
Finally, there was also one more special coincidence this weekend that allowed for an unexpected reunion with dear friends from my high school , who happened to be in Las Vegas this weekend and seeing and hugging them brought my heart JOY.
As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .
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*DH ( darling husband)
Hiking the Narrows – fall break 2022