Last month I attended two special weddings. One was for my nephew, Mathu, marrying Naserian Sempele. Both in their twenties, they were a beautiful couple having a fairly-tale wedding as is the dream of every young girl. You could tell their excitement and anticipation as they exchanged marriage vows surrounded by a line-up of equally beautiful young men and women dressed up in vibrant matching colours – seven in all! There was no doubt the young couple was in cloud nine as they stepped out to start their marital journey – one they had not walked before. But this is not the wedding I want to share with you in this column; I only used it for comparison.
The wedding that brought new meaning to friendship, love, companionship and life’s turns and twists is that of two good family friends – Rosalind Kunyiha and Samson Kamau, widowed for 12 and two years respectively; both in their sixties and displaying all signs of a good ripe age, including grey hair. Full of happiness and joy and surrounded by their children, grandchildren, family and friends, the couple said their vows at the Ngong Road Baptist Church, promising each other friendship and companionship. Unlike Mathu and Naserian, Rosalind and Sam have walked this road before and as fate would have it, their spouses left this world ahead of them. And so they were starting on a new journey promising to give each other companionship, not children or wealth.
Rosalind and Sam are not strangers to each other. Their families have known each other for a long time, and as Sam said in church, their courtship started when he asked Rosalind how she had managed the loneliness of being a widow for twelve years, yet his short one was killing him… the rest, as they say, is history!
As I sat through this wedding, and dinner later in the evening, and watched this smiling couple with renewed hope for a happy future, both having gone through dark moments of losing their spouses with great strength and dignity, I was happy for them. It made me aware that when you want companionship after finding yourself single, for whatever reason, that was the way to do it – openly.
By the time Rosalind and Sam walked away to start their honeymoon and life together, I felt their story needed to be shared. Why? Our society is not very welcoming to re-marriage after the death of a spouse, especially for widows. The norm is for widowhood to be condemned to a time of loneliness until death. That Sam and Rosalind chose to seek their own happiness and not approval of society is worth commending. It is their life and only they know what loneliness means and nobody has a right to judge them or offer a prescription, as many people are fond of doing especially within gossip circles.
That many children in this couple’s situation would feel threatened by their parent uniting with another partner to ‘replace’ their mum or dad is not unexpected, yet both Sam and Rosalind’s children were evidently happy that their parents had found new happiness and said so publicly. It was evident these are secure children who relate well with their parents and genuinely want the best for them. How many children in our society would support their parent’s re-marriage and show appreciation publicly to their new ‘mum’ or ‘dad’? Let’s face it; many would be fighting over property or selfish ‘ownership’ and ‘control’ of their parent. Let our young people learn from the example of the Kunyiha and Kamau children and know when to let go of their parents.
While it is not every widow or widower who will be lucky to find a suitable partner and walk the Rosalind and Sam way, there is great merit in having companionship in life, as long as it is carefully evaluated and selected. I doubt if this occasion would have been as joyous and supported by family and friends if Sam was marrying a 20-something woman he had fallen ‘in love’ with, or Rosalind a 30-something man pledging ‘to love and to hold’. The fact that they are both mature and their lives have been dealt similar blows; their intentions are the same. They will find in each other what they are both looking for – friendship, love, companionship and a shared love and caring of their children and grandchildren.
The fact also that they have come together openly to let the world know that theirs is not a secret affair but one approved by, first and foremost themselves, then their children, family and friends, should make us feel obliged to join them in sharing in their happiness. What a joy it would be if those widows and widowers running secret affairs would find reason to make them open. And this leads to my next point – most of these relationships would not come out openly because they are not genuine or well intentioned.
This couple has taught me three important life lessons: One, it’s not a weakness to declare you are lonely; it’s only human. Sam declared his loneliness to Rosalind. When you feel lonely, share your feelings with people who matter and ask God to find you a worthy partner. Two, don’t let your life be controlled by feelings of guilt. If God gives you a suitable partner don’t hesitate because you feel you will be betraying your children, your departed partner and his or her family. Even the Bible tells us life is for the living. As long as you don’t forget who you are and where you are coming from, as well as your responsibilities, God wants your life to be happy and fulfilled. It is not His intention to condemn you to a lonely life.
Three, don’t listen to naysayers. They don’t have good intentions for you. Listen to your soul and follow your heart. I wish this couple great happiness and I hope they will always find reason to say to each other: “I am glad I found you.”