What Courage Means After 15 Years

On this 13th day of February 15 years ago, both my parents died in a horrific car accident. This makes today a very special day to say the least. While most of you are probably preparing for Valentine’s Day, today I am reflecting on how much my life has changed over the years. From being told countless times that I would amount to nothing to being in the position in which I am today, I certainly have a lot to be grateful for. But what is it that helped me move forward? God? Friends? Ambition? Therapy? Or do I simply owe it to courage?

From the moment my parents died, there was one word which I heard over and over again from the adults in my life: COURAGE. After the funeral I had heard the word “courage” so many times that I was sick and tired of it. “What do they mean?” I kept asking myself. “I don’t need courage; I need my mummy and daddy back!” I was fed up of being told to be courageous. The child I was back then didn’t understand what courage had to do with missing my parents. The house felt cold, my mother’s perfume was no longer a smell I woke up to, no one combed my hair, and even the family dog seemed distort. “Courage” was the last thing I wanted to be told.

Wikipedia defines courage as “the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation”. As I grew older, I began to understand why I need to be courageous. The adults at the funeral had understood, far better than I had, that life would change so drastically that without courage my sisters and I wouldn’t survive. With age, courage began to mean something to me and before I knew it, I developed a new-found appreciation for it.

Fast-forward to 2018 and I still rely on courage to see me through tough times. I don’t necessarily cry over the loss of my parents everyday like I once did, but there are definitely times when I feel empty and helpless.

Losing my parents at 10 years old took a lot from me. I can’t say that life was perfect when they were around; but life was certainly beautiful. My parents loved each other and were not afraid to show it; and they loved us, their daughters, just like in fairy tales. They left everything they knew in Congo and started a new life in South Africa in the hopes to provide a better life for their children – which they eventually did. I can only image how difficult life must have been for them when they first arrived in Johannesburg, not knowing the language and having to start everything from scratch. Just a few months after giving birth to me, they had to deal with the loss of their four year old daughter – my sister, Grace. Through it all, they remained together and worked hard to improve our lives…

My parents’ courage makes me courageous and has helped me become the woman I am today. It’s been 15 years, and I must admit that I am struggling to see the words on my screen right now because of all the tears. Yes, they are certainly tears of pain, tears of pain that will be with me for the rest of my life. However, with this pain comes courage; courage to keep pushing in spite of the pain. So today, as I look back, please join me in celebrating my parents lives and their courage.

May your souls continue to rest in peace…

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