Shock and Denial of the Death of a Dear Friend

a writing by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen

Right after my last lesson in school last Friday, the telephone rang. Jens, at the other end said, "Elizabeth, I have bad news for you."

Then there was silence. I could sense he was hesitant to continue.

Then I said,"What is it?"

He said, "Kamalesh died last night."

I held my phone tightly. I asked him to say more clearly. I told him I could not hear at all what he said. I said,"What are you telling me?"

He repeated, "Kamalesh died. I am in Portugal right now. Kamalesh and Lily joined with us during this holiday in Portugal and Kamalesh died last night."

I asked, "Who?"
He said, "Kamalesh!".
"Who Kamalesh?" I insisted.
"Kamalesh Biswas", he said.
"Kamalesh?" I repeated for confirmation.
Jens said, "Yes, our Kamalesh"!
I raised my voice, "No!" And I felt the tears from my eyes on my cheeks. I sobbed like a child and continued saying, "No!"

My students rallied around me. They asked, "What is it, Elizabeth, what is it?" It must be the first time in their life to see their teacher cry like a child.

I said, "A dear friend has died". My students kept silent. Some of the them tried to put their hand around my shoulders.

I tried to be strong, attempted to smile as I asked them to go out for their recess. I closed the door when everyone was gone. And I felt the freedom to cry as I tried to fill my mind with the memories of my last encounter with him, recalling his voice, jokes and laughter during our meeting that Sunday and our plans for the Christmas party and the Christmas Eve worship service,and the drive to help the flood victims in the Philippines.

I asked the Lord, why God, why a person so dear as a friend and father should die so suddenly without being able to say goodbye?

I dialled Kamalesh`s number, called him through his mobile telephone. And his voice gave the automatic answer:
" I cannot answer right now, but you are free to leave a message and I will answer you as soon as I can". His voice on the telephone automatic answer machine made him alive to my ears but I continued to cry.

___________________

Note: Kamalesh Biswas is a Indian church pastor, assigned to work for the foreigners and immigrants in the diocese in our area. He has been very instrumental in opening dialogues between people of other religious faiths. Among other things as a worker for integrating refugees, foreigners and immigrants in the country, he has been serving as a pastor in our International Church in Kolding. Kamalesh died of cardiac arrest in the night of November 5, 2009 )

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