There is something amazing about friendship.
It is a gift and this Christmas I am celebrating this gift as it was and still is given to me every single day the sun rises and life goes on.
We come from different worlds.
He grew up in the fifties and sixties. On agricultural land in the home of an old school school-master on the far northern border of our country. He himself grew into being a teacher, not only by profession but in the way he approached every relationship.
He taught me how to drive in the deep Kalahari sand and how to get out when you get stuck. He took me on my first hunt and taught me ‘the way’ of the Thirstland-people when we settled in that desolate world. I saw this massive man embrace and console little six year old children with strong arms and a caring heart. I saw him look past himself and his own hurt, giving not to receive but because he could not help himself.
I saw him being trampled on by the children of a community which he and his wife served for a life-time. I saw him get up and begin again.
Awie taught me, as we shared life, that we can never be arrogant. That we should always consider our motives alongside the motives of others. That life is not a fairy tale of good-times and easyness – it is hard and unfair and often destructive, but in and amongst it all there is beauty so overpowering and wonderful that we cannot but be astounded and smile.
I knew Awie a mere ten years when I stood at his grave, saying a prayer and trying to make sense of loss.
His passing was loss.
It robbed me and us of a powerful man. A man who never accumulated immense financial wealth and yet did accumulate riches in the lives he touched. Some would say he had fallen, going from school principal to truck driver, delivering building material to the mansions of the rich and famous of the Western Cape, but I would disagree.
Awie was a man of integrity, I hope some of that rubbed off on me.
Awie was a man of honesty, I pray he impregnated me with it.
Awie was a man of dignity, I dream to live as dignified regardless of wealth or circumstances.
Awie was a man of love, embracing, forgiving and accepting – I can only desire to live the life he lived alongside me for such a short decade.
He’s been taken from me, from his family, from this earth, but his gift remains that we can live, that we can always get up again, that endurance is essential & judgment obsolete.
I am different for having known Awie Steensma.
I am affected for having had him as my friend.
I would like to think in our friendship he found ‘something’ as well, that it wasn’t a one way street, even if only it was the youthful optimism carried as we met and got to know each other & became friends & shared life.
This Christmas I celebrate the gift of Awie Steensma’s friendship.
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