This coming Sunday the world will be reminded of the horrific slaughter of the Rwandan genocide. 19 years have passed. For everyone who lost a loved one, these years could very well be days. Even hours or minutes. We still struggle to understand how something so inhuman could happen in our own backyards, and that gray month many years ago still linger in our hearts and memories.
I was just a few months away of becoming a teen. I had looked forward to that moment; the day I would proudly proclaim to the world I was part of the “Big Girls Club”. My birthday would have come right before we returned back to boarding school, but that hadn’t stopped me from planning every little detail, from the dress to the cake, I had it all down to a T. Because of circumstances that day with the cake and pretty dress never came, and even though I’ve had many more wonderful birthday celebrations and several other milestones have been reached, that one day still linger in my head. I often catch myself thinking: “What If?” I guess I’ll never know.
But despite my missing out on my 13th birthday celebration, and wondering what could have been, I know I am one of the lucky ones. I survived; I lived to see another year, and many more others. Whenever April rolls around, I think of the mothers who will never usher their little girls into womanhood, fathers who will never watch their little boys become men, siblings who will never have their first “serious” grown-up quarrel, grandparents whose joy to hold another generation in their sundrenched and wrinkled, yet strong arms, was cut short.
This is what this Remembrance Day is for me. The memories of those we lost, the loved ones who will never walk besides us on the road, of those who will never share a meal with us, ever again. A day to remember what they too lost. The little ones who will never know what falling in love feels like, the young adults who will never realize their dreams, men and women who will never grow old. It is also a day to be reminded of the beast that lives inside all of us, and to never let it wake up again.
This Sunday my mother is in town visiting me, and for that one single fact, I’m grateful. I’m also reminded of what could have been, had I not been one of lucky ones.