One of the great joys of life is the variety God has created. At my sis-in-law's funeral last weekend, her Kenyan family mingled with our German tribe. Miriam was a mix of cultures: born a Kenyan, she had a Western sense of time and logic. She was interested in everyone. She moved to London to study law, caring deeply for the poor and carrying their worries with her. She prayed a lot, and knew the scriptures.
Over the weekend, many people talked about her influence on their lives. She was an inspiration from her sickbed for the past 3 years: skin cancer ate away her mobility and finally took her life. People who knew her in childhood, before cancer, had a completely different view from recent friends who were her caregivers. She built a bridge across cultures, acting as a strong liaison between our families.
We celebrated Miriam's wit, her lust for learning, and her love for God and people. Her family and friends arrived from Kenya, USA, and London. We came from Canada, the USA, and Switzerland. Many of us were jet-lagged, which made us vulnerable and open to each other.
We found out that it's no use trying to teach stiff Germans to loosen up with Swahili songs and African dances. Africans are fabulous cooks and you can't suppress the cleaning and organizational instincts of Germans. We ate cold cuts with bread buns and spicy pilau rice with curry beef. We slept in shifts.
The kids related differently to each family, which was interesting to watch. The aunts and uncles talked about raising children with dual heritages. We want them to develop whole and healthy personalities, feet planted in both cultures.
The hardest moment for me was following the coffin from the church to the hearse: she was cremated and laid to rest the next day. The women made a second trip to the graveside to lay flowers above her ashes. Our photos show the tears and laughter, the tributes and the celebrations.
God is good. He took her to himself when the pain was too much to bear. We miss her, and look forward to seeing her again.