Deeply Engrained: Gift from my Father.

17 Years. Seems like Yesterday...

A friend asked me if it was "expected." I've never really understood what he meant. True we all go that way, eventually. Perhaps I should have expected it. But death is so devastating and final, nothing ever prepares us for it. No wonder on the morning of August 10 1998, Dr. David Takura Chonzi's call delivered news that tore through my heart like a knife through butter. My father's valiant fight for his life and dignity, following a devastating ailment, had ended in a tragic and heartbreaking manner at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

A part of my life went with him.

The news came crushing like the clichéd tonne of bricks. My life came to an abrupt stop. In that split moment, I must have played several permutations of the future. How would I break the news to my mom? She had held to the hope that dad would soon be out of hospital and continuing our journey further down the road of life. And to the rest of the family and friends? They too had hoped he would continue his great and selfless job of holding the family together.

Like many children, it is not until our parents are older that we really obtain a sense of them. For some that moment comes late in life, when we can listen to our parents telling their life stories to their grandchildren - putting our memories to work. For others it comes much earlier, that early travelogue between birth, holding on and letting go - that time when we build a bond between child and parent. Mine was interrupted by years in boarding school and studying abroad. We were just getting back into it! So that morning was devastating. I would never have a chance.

Neither would his grandchildren...

I wish my father had lived long enough for me to give him a part of me that he never got to see and experience: his grandchildren, the strong and loving family and friends he left behind.

Panashe was barely one. Like her cousins, she was a joy to her granddad. 'VaChihera,' he used to call her, preferring her totem. In her beautiful eyes he must have seen his own future, his legacy. But he would never live to celebrate the beautiful bond between children and their grandparents, or appreciate the beautiful, smart and ambitious young woman Panashe has become.

My father was a well known and respected person.

I could find no one with a bad word to say about him. His abiding family love was extraordinary. He gave everything to embrace the family, extended and immediate. He opened his house and heart to all, bringing under his care brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts alike. All were soon to be memories. I could sense the agony in David Chonzi's voice. He knew it was going to be a tough take for me.

It has been seventeen painful years....

Those familiar with the emotional toll exacted by the death of a loved one will know that nothing ever prepares us for the eventuality of death... heart-wrenching and crippling.

Although he was taken rather suddenly from us, he left a deeply engrained gift death will never ravage: the memory of his character and the love and care of family and friends.

Rest in Peace Mr. Gomera.