Sunday, April 19, 2009

Goodbye to my friend...

My dear friend Bhekimuzi Mkhize died last Friday (4/17). He had been a patient of mine since I arrived here in South Africa and I have written about him before. He is the man that could not start ARV’s because of prior liver damage. I have spent a great deal of time with him lately and feel so blessed to have had such an amazing inspiration in my life. I will miss him so very much.

Just a couple of weeks ago I drove him to his Sister’s home to pick up some pants that he wanted to wear on Easter. He was up and walking about visiting with his family members. I noticed that evening that he seemed slightly confused. His health declined very quickly over the next week. On Friday morning when I arrived at the Respite Unit, I made sure to go in and spend time with Bhekimuzi. A care-worker, Happy, had been staying with him constantly as is the policy for a dying patient. Happy and I closed the door and sang to Bhekimuzi. She has a beautiful voice and led me in simple, soothing songs. Bhekimuzi was staring into my eyes the whole time. Finally, I needed to “let loose” crying, so I went into the break room. I came out about 10 minutes later and they told me that he had just died. Wow.

Unfortunately, his family had just arrived to visit him as he died. Even though they knew he was dying, they were shocked. I spent the rest of the morning talking with them, telling them nice stories about my time with Bhekimuzi, showing them pictures and helping them to plan his funeral. His Brother told me that “he had heard a lot about the white girl that was so nice to his Brother and that he loved so much.” It was so nice to spend some time with his family members and talk to them about this great man.

I will miss him so very much. I will miss him calling me “number one” and telling me that I was “too much nice to him.” His strength and courage truly amazed me and I will never forget his spirit. I feel lucky to have had him in my life for even just a short time. Rest in Peace my friend.

The pictures below are the week before he died. It was the day we went to his Sister's home to pick up his pants.

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