My Opinion | Jul 09,2022
Feb 5 , 2022
By Eden Sahle
I have had an intense fear of death since childhood. I was not scared to die but feared seeing loved ones leave me in grief. I have consistently and intentionally convinced myself that my family is safe from harm as a coping mechanism.
My siblings and I used to tell our father that we wanted to die before him not to experience the agony of losing him. He always rebuked us, saying this was an awful wish. He used to say there is only one thing worse than death for any parent and that is burying a child.
He did not have a father to model fatherhood for him, but he did it fearlessly. He had a strong compassion for children, single mothers and fathers who pay the highest price to give a better future to their children. He enjoyed giving what he had to these people to make their lives a little easier and less fearful.
Even while fearless, he was the kind of man who weeps over the death of my friends and everyone else who is hurting. He would walk in on strangers' mourning, comforting them and creating lasting friendships with them. He was the kind of man who helped strangers on the streets and invited them to his home as his friends.
For much of his life, he remained down to earth and humbled, smiling when we praise him for his artistic glass and frameworks which are still visible at the National Palace, the African Union, Addis Abeba University and Black Lion Hospital, with the works of other artists such as Afewerk Tekle.
I was proud to admire my father’s accomplishments and try to follow in his footsteps professionally. What I have never been able to do was to practice his fearless attitude. This was despite losing his father, baby sister and grandmother as a child and his mother when he was only 19 years old.
His touching stories and the tragedies he had overcome over the years was admirable. I used to ask him how he made it through the thick and thin. He says the storms of life did not stop him but encouraged and made him fearless and hopeful.
Several decades ago, he went for a walk and met a beggar on the streets of Asmera, Eritrea. He felt compassion for the woman and gave her cash. The woman thanked him and told him he will go far from home to a big place. A week later, my father came to Addis Abeba and started over.
The capital of Ethiopia was a place he learnt to be fearless. He became fluent in Amharic, opened several businesses, started a family and was gradually comforted from his grief. He went around all corners of Ethiopia, falling in love with the country.
Now I finally realise that I walked through life holding onto my father’s support and love. Carrying the heavy load of his loss and facing my ultimate fear has been unbearable. I have lost a vital part of my own identity that shakes me to the core. Unlike my father, my fears got worse. I fear life itself and living. I could not turn from it; I could not reason with it.
But I am still reminded of how he smiled and remained optimistic no matter what happened. He used to teach me that everything is possible, and I should have faith to move forward. He lived in a moment without worrying about the future. Often, we do things simultaneously and say similar things, smiling at each other in surprise. Whenever I share with him my fears, he smiles at me and says we are the same and tells me I can never remain fearful as he did not. I hope to find that strength.
PUBLISHED ON Feb 05,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1136]
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