Holy week will never be the same for my friend David Mashele. Yesterday, on Monday – the day Jesus kicked the merchants and consumers out of the temple – he heard the devastating news that his wife of almost ten years, Shandu, journeyed into the next phase of her existence. At round about six o’clock last night my friend phoned me sobbing and explained to me that death has knocked on his family’s door.
Earlier in the afternoon the doctors phoned him and said that he should come immediately for "things are not looking good." Shandu had a tumor removed in one of the state-owned hospitals, it was a delicate operation that in the end cost her, her life.
I’m writing this post in that very same hospital. We’ve sat outside the Intensive Care Unit for close to two hours now. Waiting. One of the doctor’s must sign the death certificate and its taking forever. I cannot help wondering if this kind of treatment would be given to the richer segment of our country. David is sitting next to me with intense pain and anguish. He just explained to me how hard it is to sit at the very ward he last saw Shandu alive. I’m brooding and wondering why the doctors have to prolong my friend’s agony? Is this just another fascinating case for them as neurosurgeon’s?
Shandu was an amazing women. I’ve had the privilege to be on the receiving end of her hospitality gift more than once. One particular time comes to mind when she stood up at five in the morning to prepare a traditional Venda meal for me and a few other Kleipot people. She wasn’t a big talker, but when she spoke it was significant. No, her main form of communicating was through her life. She was a perfect partner for my friend David. Lollie and Shandu always had a unique bond, both of them etching their lives out in the context of pastoral ministry.
Last year David and Shandu stayed at our house for a week of vacation and during that time we marveled at her sweet spirit and her sense of humor. It was always evident that this small, slender woman had a very intimate connection with her God. In that sense she was big – and it was this bond that made up for her otherwise slender and frail body. Like Lollie she also had this amazing ability to steer David in a certain direction (usually out of trouble). Her thirty-four year life left some amazing prints on a lot of people’s hearts.
This Holy Week has become for me a reality check. During this week we remember Jesus’ actions. Actions that grew in ever increasing waves of compassion until it crescendos to the point of death on the ironically named ‘good Friday.’ Then there is the Saturday. A day during which chaos reigned in the disciple’s hearts. A waiting place. Saturday was a place of agony for Peter, James, John and the others. Thankfully the crescendo didn’t peak on Friday, it turned out to be but only a pause. On Sunday the shackles of death was broken. It is now broken and that’s why in between his sobs David is organizing a funeral. Friday brings death, Saturday brings pain and agony. But on Sunday we will all proclaim that HE is RISEN, HE is RISEN INDEED!