Notes from a Native Daughter

"A Promise Kept" by Princess Rachella

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Promise Kept

I started today humming Elton John's song, "Sad Songs." I know that sounds like a horribly macabre way to mark the one year anniversary of your sister's death, but it was actually a victory celebration of sorts.

My brother-in-law Ron had sent me an e-mail describing how that song came on the radio just as he was turning into the cemetery to visit Julie's grave yesterday. We've both been bracing ourselves for this day, and looking for every possible sign from Julie that she still has our backs, and that we'll make it through.

If you know the song, you know it's kinda weird how Elton and Bernie matched such sad lyrics with such upbeat music. But it works....."When all hope is gone, why don't you tune in and turn them on......"

It's almost like the song is saying that sad songs can act as a receptacle for grief, and make you feel less lonely. "Sad songs they say....soooo much..." When somebody else takes time out from suffering long enough to write down what they're going through, it serves to validate what anybody else who hears that song might be enduring. It's actually a very generous gesture, when you think about it.

Anyway, I found myself singing those lyrics as I got ready to go out with a friend this morning. For some reason, I was able to focus on the fact that today means Julie has been free from excruciating pain for exactly one year. Even in my darkest moments since last October, I remember how much she pain she struggled with every second, and I realize how selfish it is to wish I could still be with her even though she was in such constant agony.

And I think I got another of the signs from Julie that have kept me from hurtling over the edge of deep sorrow. I was at Nairobi National Museum with my friend (whose name, by the way, is Juliette....) when my Blackberry phone started buzzing. Now, I don't use the Blackberry over here, because it's locked for international use, and it would cost a pound of flesh for every phone call anyway. But I dug it out yesterday to get it charged to take back when I head to New York City tomorrow evening. I also decided to take it with me to the Museum with me today, in case I wanted to take pictures.

Anyway, I was standing in front of a display case when the buzzing starts, and when I pushed the button to retrieve the message. It read, "The Anniversary of Julie's Homegoing." I know, that's a rather corny and prosaic term, but that's not the point. You see, I truly don't even remember putting that reminder on the phone calendar! Obviously I must have, though I can't imagine why I would have felt the need to remind myself of the occasion!!

Now, If I hadn't been heading to the US tomorrow, the phone wouldn't have been charged and I wouldn't have heard it. If I had been sitting at home by myself, drowning in sorrow, and that phone had started buzzing, I probably would have tossed it out the window! But I forced myself to go out today, with a young woman whose name means "Little Julie", and my phone reminded me that Julie didn't die, she just went home.

THAT'S when I knew that Julie had kept her promise to me. That promise came in the form of a rainbow that appeared in the skies over Northern Uganda, about a month after she passed. I had just returned and was heading from Kampala to Gulu when I rounded a bend and saw the rainbow in the picture at the top of this posting. I'd written earlier about how I'd never seen a rainbow during my time in Uganda, even though it often rained during bright, sunny days.

Rainbows had always been my lucky sign, and I'd desperately needed to see one before I headed back to Julie's bedside at the end. So it seemed a bit ironic to finally see one after she was gone. But when I saw this particular rainbow, I knew it was a sign from Julie that I would be alright, and her beloved husband Ron would be alright, and you know what?

She kept her promise.

Posted by Princess Rachella at 8:37 PM