Yesterday, it was a beautiful day. We were sitting in an outdoor cafe at a newly constructed mall in Nairobi. The sun was brightly shining, and there was a cool breeze blowing throughout the veranda. All around the remarkable green and vibrant flowery surrounded us. It was a beautiful day. I was having lunch with my new Kenyan family. The conversation was easy and pleasant. It was a beautiful day.
I looked up from our table at the neighboring table and that’s when I saw him. The doppelgänger. I immediately thought of how much he looked like my uncle. My Uncle Paul. My favorite uncle. A smile graced my face as I thought of how much he'd enjoy this place, with the lake view and the live jazz music playing in the background. I felt sad for a minute to be so far from my family, but looking across at this man who was a dead ringer for my uncle, I felt comforted with thoughts of my favorite uncle.
We all have that family member who makes everyone laugh with their stories and jokes…that’s my Uncle Paul. From his huge sense of humor to his uncanny ability to draw everyone around him into his world, my uncle exudes joy. As my mother's favorite brother, he naturally became our favorite uncle. Our third parent. His daughters, our sisters. Every summer, we vacation together, from the waterfalls of Jamaica to the pyramids in Mexico, we have the best memories with our Uncle Paul and his family. If there is one thing my uncle loves as much as his family is Alabama football. His pride swelled when his “Bama" won the national championship. Sending my dad texts with every touchdown. From tennis matches to basketball games, he always comes and supports my sisters and I. When I needed a place to stay in Nashville, he didn't hesitate to open his home to me. And when I moved to Kenya, he was there to send me off, to wish me well, and of course to joke that I'd find my Kenyan warrior husband.
Looking at this man, who resembled my uncle, I was filled with joy to have such a great uncle. How blessed indeed. It was a beautiful day.
I woke up very early Sunday morning Kenyan time. I glanced at my phone and noticed numerous missed texts from my sister.
"Something bad has happened.”
"Call me when you wake up.”
I put the phone down and prayed for the Lord's comfort and peace regardless of the news. I called my sister and listened as she stumbled over her words. But didn't I already know? Had God not already shown me the day before? I didn't need my sister to confirm that my favorite uncle was gone.
Living in Kenya is a blessing for sure, but at that moment all I wanted was to be home to give my mother the biggest hug. To be there with my family. With my cousin. With my aunt. Hadn’t my uncle always been there for me? Even as I type this, my heart is heavy. My grief is overflowing. The hardest part being the miles separating me from the ones I love. Our pastor spoke about God’s sovereignty this morning. I trust His plan and don't question His sovereignty, but it’s days like this that I feel the cost of being away. What a high price indeed.
But God. My refuge and my strength.
And oh, how sweet for Him to send my favorite uncle all the way to Kenya, so I could see him one last time. It was a beautiful day.