TOLUWA (as we fondly call you.) I remember our childhood days and how much we always looked like twins because you just kept growing taller and for a long time, we were the same height. Even more, we always wore the same cloths and the same styles. As much as I was older, there was a bond between us that no one and I could explain. We were best of friends.
When we went off to boarding school, I always came by to your hostel to make sure you were well. I would come check you up in class then just to be sure you were okay. When you told me, my constant checking up on you could make you a target for seniors to punish, I had to grudgingly relax a little but not completely. When I was graduating and you were going to go back to begin SS1, I remember telling you what you should do and not and was just being a bore. You knew I was not happy I was not going to be there, and you told me to relax that you would be fine and take care of yourself and yes, you did.
Every of your friend know me even though I do not know them. You always talked about me so much even though you know I am not one to easily make friends and like to be in my own space. You were a voice to me when I passed through tough times. When I wanted to react when accused wrongly and have cried my eyes out, you always told me not to say what was in my mind because you knew it will not end up exactly how it should. You were a shoulder when all I could do was cry and explain to you why things were happening the way they were.
Toluwa, you knew everything about me first and I knew same about you too. We always talked and we had a lot of principles and creeds. I remember when you shared something deep with me. Yes, it broke my heart, but you made a promise to me and till you relocated, kept it. We never fought and I wonder why. However, I remember the first and last time you got angry at me and I was surprised but I accepted my wrong and apologized and you forgave me, and we were besties again.
Oh, I just remembered something, and this put a smile on my face. Our voices. We sound alike that Dad always must ask, “Is this Phebe or Toluwa?” whenever we spoke on the phone. You always had a smiling face on and I the straight face such that everyone always wanted to be your friend. Everyone who has met you always have something lovely to say about you and this makes me happy.
When I was pregnant and very hormonal, you came to take care of me. You understood and kept up with my attitude and was still a best friend and sister. You took great care of me till you had to go to Rivers for your service. I remember all the wahala you went through trying to find a good PPA but you decided to go to where would not be anyone’s first choice, because it afforded you time to prepare and write your remaining exams to become a chartered accountant.
I know all you went through, and I bless God for you keeping calm and being Christlike during it all. When the situation got on your nerves, you will call me to vent and rant and I will just listen and encourage you.
Fast forward to 2018, when you came visiting and we talked and I opened up to you asking for your opinion and like always you being the peaceful and gentle one, you gave it to me undiluted and without mincing words. We arrived at a conclusion and I made a promise to you which I went on to fulfil. Who knew that that would be the last visit and time we sit and talk face to face?
You were always the first to wish me a happy birthday. Always early at few minutes past 12:00am.
2019 was filled with plans. Toluwa, we made plans. I still look at your signature on the documents and I cry. When the lawyer said I’ll have to make some changes, I asked for more time and I am still asking for more time. It is simply hard to make those changes. I remember that call, “Big Sis, I am having headache.” I said, “Toluwa, rest. Please rest. If anything happens to you, work will go on. Your health and your life are important.” You listened, you took time off and rested but you decided to rest in Heaven few weeks after.
I still remember the calls, the prayers, the visons. It still is like a dream sometimes and other times, it is as though you just traveled to a new country (Of which you did – Heaven) I still send you messages on WhatsApp just to let you know how much I miss you. I still go back to your text messages and read them.
I remember I called you on your birthday (3 September 2019) and wished you a happy 30th birthday and we laughed and joked and prayed even though you were in pains. We still talked about our plans and you were just waiting to feel a little better and you will be back to Lagos. You sent Booboo a hilarious birthday song and wrote, “For my princess.” She listened to it and laughed (I still go back and play it often). But we did not know you were getting ready. You knew the end was coming but you did not even tell me anything. Why? It was after you had relocated, we found out you had been preparing, because you had an inkling.
Its been a difficult ONE year. For the first time, I did not have a new year goal. I just asked God to help me because I am hurting. I smile and I put on a façade but every night, I think of you and just tell myself, you are really gone to heaven. I know it is a reunion up there. I know it.
I miss you Toluwa and it has not been the same without you on this side of heaven. I miss my best friend. We all miss you deeply and dearly. I am proud of all you did girl. I am proud of the woman you were becoming. I am happy that during your short stay over there, you still remembered our creed to always help those who genuinely need our help if we can and when we can as God helps us (this you did even as you spent your last days). You often told your friends; you learned a lot from me. If only you knew how much I learned from you. I wish I spoke to you that morning just to even say, “I love you.” Hmmmm.
I take comfort in knowing you are in Heaven. You spent your last days reading the bible and praying. I remember Big Sis telling me that you prayed through the night even in such pain and that you said, “I prayed for everyone” with a smile on your face. I asked you, “Toluwa, what are you praying for? Leave the praying to us” and you giggled. Ah… God I thank you! God, I thank you! From you are all things and to you aRE ALL THINGS! You deserve the glory. You are worthy of it all!
Keep resting in Heaven my love. I miss both of you greatly.
In loving memory of Deborah Missions Toluwalope Reju (Sept 3rd ’89 – Sept 19th ’19)