To everyone who’s been following my grief journey through my yearly blogs on the Jeggan Cole Foundation website, it should come as no surprise that another year is upon us. Indeed, we continue to remember and celebrate the life and legacy of my dear son, Jeggan. For more about the Foundation, my grief journey and how I deal with loss, kindly check out the Jeggan Cole Foundation website at www.jeggancolefoundation.org
It’s been nine years since Jeggan’s passing and, and pleased to report that grief has only gotten better with each passing year: the terrain is more familiar and the climb easier. I am grateful for each and everyday of my journey; the byways and alleyways God has brought me through and more importantly the blessings. In spite of the nature of my journey, I feel immensely blessed that I am still alive and trudging along, putting one foot in front of the other. Throughout the years, God has never let go of me and He’s always been faithful. His mercies are new every morning and His steadfast love endures. Anchored in Christ alone who is my sure foundation and living hope is my Christian faith. His unshakable promises are ever so true. Time and time again, I have witnessed instances of God’s sustaining grace at work in my life and His overwhelming presence every step of the way even though I fully understand that I am still a work in progress.
The journey continues even as I commemorate another year of God’s love, goodness mercy and blessings. Nine years is no easy feat in any grief journey but I believe that it is God’s grace that has brought me this far and that same grace will continue to lead me on. Everyday that I get to wake up and have my feet firmly planted on the ground, is a day to rejoice and be thankful. The journey of grief may not necessarily be measured in time and strength but the period is most certainly worth commemorating.
As grief persists and and the journey progresses, the more I lean into the power of hope. I am always hopeful of my journey and what the future holds. Hope endures all things. Hope fuels and motivates my journey. Hope unravels the entanglement of grief and guides me to a place of quiet and stillness. This kind of hope is inspiring. This kind of hope causes me to laugh again, love again, dream again and even thrive because it is deeply rooted in my Christian faith. Did I just mention, thrive? Yes, I am thriving, in spite of it all. I never imagined that It was possible to thrive while grieving even though it takes courage.
There is power in hope. Hope let’s me believe in a tomorrow that’s never promised. Hope empowers, energizes and comforts. When the power of hope comes alive, the possibilities are endless. Hope becomes the much needed companion when adversity strikes and its sheer force is leashed and is threatened by devastation and destruction. Therefore, I refuse to give up but press on to wherever my journey leads me. To be hopeful is about learning to live again, embracing my journey while honoring the memory and legacy of Jeggan my son. Hope is a powerful tool in time of grief.
Hope is the glue that holds together all the moving parts and broken pieces of my incredible journey. Therefore in moments of sadness, nostalgia and unguarded grief, hope whispers, “It’s okay, Kehinde. Do not despair, take deep breadths. Embrace the positive and keep bouncing back.” Without hope and purpose, nothing makes sense in the journey of grief. If care is not taken the journey becomes a process in futility, despair and hopelessness.
Over the years I have become intentional with my journey while remaining hopeful. For instance the Jeggan Cole Foundation (JCMF) was established to give my journey some kind of meaning which literally saved me from further downward spiral. Compassion, love, kindness are at the core of the work of the Foundation. The Foundation keeps me sane, in check and it is a place where I am at peace with myself. The experience of working with disadvantaged and marginalized students in rural communities is humbling and gratifying especially having been in the field of education myself. Thank God for the life and legacy of Jeggan which has only serve to elevate and structure my journey.
The memory of Jeggan continues to live in the hearts and minds of many whose lives have been touched through programs of the Foundation such as scholarship, mentoring and community service. The Foundation is undoubtedly an extension of Jeggan’s dreams and aspirations. Four years ago, in addition to the core programs, the foundation took on a project to refurbish and equip a rural school library that now seats thirty students. Following years of hard work, plans are presently underway to officially open the newly refurbished library by the end of the year. In the period since, the structure has been extended, refurbished and partially equipped to accommodate increased number of students as well as to provide better service. New windows were fabricated and installed, new ceiling fitted, electrification work completed and ceiling fans installed, not to mention the new sets of furniture (bookshelves, chairs and tables) that have been installed. Presently, Foundation continues to scout around for much needed items such as laptops, computers, copying machine, printer for the computer lab as well as new and gently used books to replace the outdated and worn out books in the library. The process has been challenging but at the same time rewarding and a delight to see it all gradually come together. What an incredible journey!
Now, with the year 2023 underway, I am already looking ahead to the year 2024 – an important milestone in my grief journey. It’s the tenth year anniversary of Jeggan’s passing and I am already wrestling with a number of ideas in my head about how to commemorate such a crucial milestone. One of the many ideas swirling around in my head is how I can support others who are young in their grief journey. Without sounding too confident in my own journey and given its fluidity I plan on treading cautiously even as I begin to branch out. I understand all too well that this journey will only be perfected the day I join my son in glory. Leaning on that eternal hope gives me every reason to keep going.
Finally, my journey this far is a testament as to how far I have come and my willingness to even push further, if life permits. Over the years, I have come to appreciate every breadth while realizing how much of a gift life has been. With that, I am thankful for the interesting experiences, the life lessons and tools acquired that continue to positively transform my person as well as the overall impact on my journey.
Hope is active. Hope is alive. Hope endures. Hope is transformative. My hope for the future is to continue to walk this journey with purpose and commitment. I hope and pray in my heart that others who are struggling with grief will find their own path and embrace their journey. With this in mind, I look forward to celebrating 10 years of my special journey in 2024 even as I continue to lean into hope. For all the people out there, who are on their journey, keep trudging along; you are not alone. God bless those who like me continue to own their truth and steadfastly walk their journey. Thank you to all those who continue to walk alongside me, God willing, I’ll see you in 2024.