Where were you when the news came? I was sitting at my dining room table thinking about what my blog was going to be about this week. I was watching Mary Poppins with Alice in Wonderland (my partners Mom) and drinking a coke. I heard a gasp coming from down the hall. The kind of sound that is clear immediately that something is not right.
I got up from the table and my stillness. What was wrong? What did I need to fix? I am a fixer. I hate that I am a fixer. I am always there to fix things. Not physical things but emotional wounds. I am a sucker for “Oh help me my life is falling apart and I need to take up all of your time getting fixed and then never call you again until I am broken again!” That kind of fixer. I roll my eyes to myself.
I’m suddenly pulled out of my indecent self loathing to hear the news. Nelson Mandela has died.
Time stood still. A lifetime of History floods my mind. Now I must be honest. I new of him. I heard how he changed the world. His journey, honestly hadn’t changed my journey at all so I believed.
I quickly turned the television on to watch the news and to catch up on a lifetime of the “Nelson Years” I watched the people of South Africa dance and sing in between Peter Mansbridges commentary. I heard the voices of world leaders humbled by the memory of what it was to be that one man that had now left us all. I watched and I tried to grasp the magnitude that was Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela. I don’t think I ever thought of him as flesh and blood. Someone that would eventually, like us all, die and leave their impression on the world be it small or large.
I went onto You Tube where I looked up the South African anthem. Why did I do this? Why was a feeling haunted by this news? I started to cry. My heart was heavy. I could not articulate it but it was heavy. My partner came out of the other room in tears. His mother sat on the couch and watched quietly as we all in our own way stopped to mark this grievous moment in time.
I was proud to learn of Canada’s involvement with the efforts of Brian Mulroney to end Apartheid in South Africa and suddenly it all came flooding into my memory like a fire hydrant released to battle the flame. The concerts I had seen on T.V year after year “Free Mandela” The celebrities I watched sing out their songs in anguish and rage to set this moral saviour free.
It seemed so long ago and I was so young then. Why do my eyes well with tears? I hear the song of South Africa and watch the children sing at the top of their voices. I listen to the words of Mandela and I am humbled completely. Look at what he did! Look at what he has accomplished. Look at his resolve. Look at his soul.
I don’t pretend to know or understand the history that is South Africa and Apartheid. I, for the most part have lived a sheltered “White” life this far. I am lucky and not by any doing of my own. I never chose the colour of my skin. I never chose where I was to be born. I never chose to have all these opportunities in a country that lacked for nothing.
As I watched the world begin to morn and begin to celebrate his life and legacy, I did feel many very strong emotions. That I have not done much. That I have not always been generous and kind. That I have not always had resolve and forgiveness. That I have not reach out my heart and my hand to know more of the world that lives outside my bubble of existence. That I can always do better. That I can change one life everyday by giving joy and kindness.
As sad as it is to lose such a world healer. It is fitting that as we embrace the season of perpetual hope we recall the unmoving hope Nelson Mandela gave to the whole world. When he was finally free from his imposed prison of hate and fear he rose a beacon of all that is truly good in the world and taught us how to LOVE.
Thank you Mr. Mandela R.I.P