Happy Scribe
[00:00:00]

My father, Christopher Denman, was born on December 31st, New Year's Eve in Berlin, Germany.

[00:00:09]

My father's name was Simca Benjie, and he was born in Israel, in Tel Aviv. My friend is Dorene and Disha Luke Aliki. She was born in Kenya in a little town called Ndolo. My professor told me that I showed up to a kid in my father's shoulder when I was born in Turkey in a small house by the river. My father's name is Shah. His daughter was born in Aleppo, Syria, Sitaram D'Annunzio City and Touba. Until Bandeau started the war.

[00:00:52]

Both my dad and I are from Zimbabwe and from the Montoro area more specifically, and we both speak Shona. I'm Bianca Jagger and I'm a producer on The Daily. This past week, we hit a tragic milestone, one million lives lost to coronavirus all around the world.

[00:01:25]

We lost musicians, artists and actors who by doctors, nurses, parents and best friends. Today, we remember a few of their lives through the people who loved them. The first time I met Doreen, we were both 14 years old, we were in high school and it was a boarding school for girls.

[00:02:01]

One of the British type system of boarding schools where it's very disciplined. You wear school uniform from morning to evening. You were brought by your parents with your suitcases and left there. So everyone is still unsure, uncertain, looking around, nervous, waiting to see what should happen. I noticed the rain because she seemed more sure of herself, he was curious, looking around, trying to make friends, trying to make jokes, and then he went and wrote on the chalkboard, doctor added some alike, and everybody started laughing.

[00:02:39]

It was a joke at the time, but she knew what she wanted and she was professing it.

[00:02:47]

Daryn and I were competitive. The two of us were always fighting for the top position in class and teachers noticed that and teachers would make jokes about it. When we are doing a sample questioning math, the teacher would say, OK, Boreen cannot get it. You know, Verrat, you want to try? We got closer because she was so, so good in physics. And I struggled with physics. So I started working with her. We bonded over that time.

[00:03:17]

And then I'm learning. I'm trying to see how diligent she is. And I'm trying to understand where you get this drive.

[00:03:27]

You just want to comment as well. So, you know, when my father was young, he was very handsome. He had a guy in a civil suit and I was glad to see you. And I remember when we were growing up, we would spend summers in one hand and it would be so hot there and he would come home from work and he would ask me to help him massage his shoulders and pound his back. And because of that, I always associate with this sort of sweaty smell with him.

[00:04:03]

So you told I just a little bit odd or cough, but my earliest memory of my father was him hitting me. But he said, you know, he hit me all the time. But I'm actually very thankful to him for it because some of those early experiences of my dad, he taught me how to be tough inside. And so that's why I feel like I'm still speaking out now. My dad's name is Cosmas Mungiu from Zimbabwe. He was happiest when he was playing his music.

[00:04:45]

He used to observe his cousin play and then when his cousin is gone, he would go in and he would take the instrument and try to do the things that he saw his cousin doing to a point that he started being able to play some songs.

[00:05:03]

So then one day, cousin found him playing and he realized that he actually could play some songs, so then that God, his cousin, really excited them from that point on, he started to teach him and show him how to do it, because a lot of that music is passed down orally. So he stayed with it from that point on. He always had an instrument with them. He played every single day. When I was around seven or so, he had been in a car accident, so we were all home and it also turned out that the power was out.

[00:05:49]

So we were actually using candles. It was just so quiet in the house. We were all feeling sad that he had just gotten into this accident and he picked up his mirror and he started playing.

[00:06:07]

I don't remember the songs he played. All I remember is Beera being played and it being really, really quiet and finding that to be very soothing and comforting on a day that had quite a bit of sadness for us. I had my children in 2006 and 2007 and Doreen had her twins in 2007 as well, so we had our kids around the same time he went into the diamond business. And because of his business, my sister and I were going in Hong Kong.

[00:06:58]

He also saved the synagogue in in Hong Kong that he lived in rural China.

[00:07:06]

And life was very difficult for everyone at that time, didn't have much to eat.

[00:07:12]

And when he was 18, he joined the army and had, you know, the blond hair slicked back like like to wear sunglasses. He played bass and drums and guitar. And he wasn't she was outgoing. She was sociable. She was kind of like a party animal at the right time. She knew how to have fun. Insurance should have a plate of meat and wine.

[00:07:34]

He was in love with them and and shoes he had maybe I think maybe 50 pairs of shoes always wore an afro. He loved wearing cowboy hats, had a feeling where all his clothes were all of paintings. He by the painting, he was just sitting three meters apart of the painting, having a glass of wine or a glass of whiskey. And he was watching my dad. I would hug even though I was the initiator of the hug. He would never initiate that ever hug people that like to have to lean on their shoulders.

[00:08:12]

But the parts like getting ready to leave is like it's like it's a half a person you get to hug there. But that was my dad who was just so there for me. He went back to graduate school after her twins were born because she wanted to specialize and be an OBGYN over all those years, know she was the first person I went to when I had issues with my husband or just fights, you know, newlyweds. The first person I would run towards the rain and say, oh, my God, he did this, he did that.

[00:08:49]

And she would also do the same thing our two husbands didn't like. But we were friends with each one of them. Felt like there's three of us in this marriage, I think. Her marriage ended and then mine ended. When my father died, she came to the village. She popped up uninvited because she knew I would be there. She knew it was important to me. I lost a brother and she did the same thing. Then I lost a sister in Nairobi.

[00:09:27]

I didn't travel to my sister's funeral, but she found they were having a church service for the funeral and she sat by herself in a corner.

[00:09:39]

And my family said or your friend was here, I didn't know she was going to go. When we arrived in Ohio on January 17 and at that time, there was no sense that there was this threat that was expanding in the city the last three days leading up to my mom's funeral, he was in bed pretty much the entire day, was very weak.

[00:10:12]

My room was next to his. And even though we couldn't see each other because I had covid at the same time, we were always separated through walls. But I could hear him crying. Many, many hours. And then I year to the Syrian border, I had to cross the border. OK, are you OK? But he passed away already. He was the first health care provider to die due to covid. Yeah, in Kenya. You know, it's interesting how passion being a doctor from the time she was 14, she fulfilled that dream.

[00:10:57]

And even in death, she was shining as the doctor she wanted to be.

[00:11:07]

Excuse me. Or learn to learn so much well, because I was already in the hospital every day to look after him because of his surgery, I was able to spend his last days with him when he passed away.

[00:11:31]

You know, I was looking at him then and he was just wearing a hospital shirt and nothing below where you.

[00:11:37]

And I felt that my father I just wanted to have my father to be able to pass away with some dignity.

[00:11:44]

So I had I changed his clothes and I put socks on him and I laid him on top of the sheet.

[00:11:56]

And then we were waiting for the car from the funeral parlor to come for a very long time. And so I was just sitting next to him and talking to him and I just said to him that I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have.

[00:12:12]

Are you too hard, I had no idea that what was happening, and I just was so regretful for bringing him to hunt. I think so many Chinese people, they they think that saying I love you out loud is sort of humiliating.

[00:12:28]

But if I had the chance now, I would say it so loudly to him. I would just say, I love you so much. At some point, we need to be nimble on the issue.

[00:12:45]

So in the last two or three years, every phone conversation we have just before hanging up, he was saying, I love you, son.

[00:12:58]

And as an adult men, I wasn't able to say I love you.

[00:13:02]

I was just saying thank you that you did.

[00:13:07]

The day before he was taken to the intensive care unit in hospital, he asked me to bring him underwear and I prepared a bag of underwear for him. And I also put a note into that bag saying that, father, please get well as soon as possible. And I have been forgetting to tell you, I love you in our phone conversations with you.

[00:13:36]

I love you so much that I'm not. It bothers me to this day, the last conversation my dad and I had, which was all around him being put into an artificial coma and he called me from the emergency room. You know, this is this is everybody learning or reading, really for the first time what this virus is doing back in March. That was all. My mom had passed just a couple of days before then, and he got very angry with me on the phone and said, you know, it's tough to deal with it and I'll see you on the other side.

[00:14:10]

And that's when he hung up. And that's the last time I spoke to my dad. He passed on a Friday, which was July 10th, that Thursday, I got a call saying he's not feeling well and it was after midnight there. So I instructed them to till the close family members that they were going to travel to area, which is the capital city, to seek medical treatment, because I knew if they were calling me after midnight, that is not well, that it's not a good situation.

[00:14:50]

They ended up getting to the city a little after, I think 3:00 in the morning. Got some initial help, but part of the request was for him to get a covid test done, and until we get results from a definitive one, we're not going to be able to do anything. So they were able to go get a test done, but we're told that it will take 24 to 48 hours to get results of that. So literally from that moment on, they drove from one clinic to the next one hospital to the next.

[00:15:25]

Could not get anyone that was willing to help. We had finally gotten to a point where there's a hospital, a clinic that a friend of mine had contacts there and we had understood that they would be able to take him and help him. But it was outside of Harare. So they were now driving on the way there. And as they were driving, they at some point he said he wanted to use the bathroom and they mind he wasn't able to talk much the last two days.

[00:16:03]

So at that moment, he was able to say to talk and see what what he needed to say to us in that moment when they stopped the car and my brother was helping him get out of the car and go use the bathroom. It was within those minutes that he passed and I was actually on the phone and I was able to say hi to him and tell him that we were really working hard to try and get him home. And all we really needed from him is to keep fighting, to keep holding on.

[00:16:42]

And we were going to do. Everything in our power to get him the help that he needed. And I remember at the time thinking that I think he wants to say something, but I don't know whether it was because I wanted to be able to talk to him and I was making something up in my head. So that was my last somewhat real interaction with my dad was just me talking to him and trying to say something to me and he just couldn't.

[00:17:20]

I felt. Confusion. Shop. Anga. Anger cause. I could hear the groaning and the gasping for air the whole time. And for someone that spent a lot of his life helping other people, it really hurt me. That in his final hours, no one was willing to help him. The good thing with the hospital here, they let you say by. It was just me they wouldn't they would only let one person come and I was able to.

[00:18:35]

They sit by his bed and. Schmeiser, you know, I had both Schempp, but the tail end of that half that is in the Jewish religion, it's a it's a big thing to say how you atonement kind of thing before the person dies. So I said the whole thing with him. The death of a shell shocked amnios earlier this year. I really didn't think I was really saying I really saw you get out of it. I guess it's kind of a gift that I was able to say bye and I didn't have to.

[00:19:27]

You he had like this smile, though, for the year to year and have the last memory of the Bushies and they're like a minute later, it's not there anymore. And the funeral was just like a bad sci fi movie.

[00:19:53]

So on July 10th, in the morning, around 3:00 in the morning, my phone started buzzing, everybody said your friend is dead. So I, I was thinking, OK, maybe it's a bad joke. So I didn't it didn't really register. It's like 3:00 in the morning. And I'm shaking. I'm I'm shivering. I was in my apartment in Oakton, Virginia. That's right, about 10, 15 miles outside of Washington. I went out for a walk.

[00:20:28]

It was so dark, but it was warm. It was summer just walking. Then I started running. I think I probably did 12 miles that day just being out, I realized there's no one to talk to anymore. There's no one to confide in. It's like a part of you died. And I'm thinking about how she struggled so hard to got herself out of a bad relationship to create a happy life for children. And I'm thinking about just it's all for nothing.

[00:21:03]

And you wonder, what's the what's the meaning? What's the purpose of life then? Then I'm wondering where she is, is she happy to see us? I still do it, I still do the walking or the running. Maybe three hours, every single day, every single day. I walk and I run and I just I should stop, I know I should stop. Maybe I'm looking for something out there and I just haven't found it yet.

[00:21:43]

Until I do, I'll still keep waking up in the morning and I'll still go out and it's going to be winter soon and I'll see how that goes.

[00:21:53]

But I feel like there's a reason why I can't I can't go back to bed. And I try I'm trying to understand. If she's OK. I feel that. I'd like to know if she's in a good place, and I hope that I get the sign. I don't know what it is, but I think I'll find it. I still wake up and I still go out. My friend Doreen Adisa Abdisalam, he died in Nairobi, Kenya, on July 10th of twenty twenty.

[00:23:24]

She died at the age of 39.

[00:23:29]

My father been shot, I was seventy five. And he passed away in the hospital in Tel Aviv on the 8th of April. That's around 2:00 in the morning.

[00:23:44]

So my father's name was Christopher Darden, and he died at the age of 81 on March twenty ninth in Zinser, Germany, just outside of Heidelberg.

[00:23:54]

Only half so close to my father was John Oliver. He was seventy six when he died. He died on February 1st at five twenty eight p.m. at a hospital on. My father's name is Show, and he died on the 14th of August in Aleppo, Syria, because of the coronavirus.

[00:24:20]

My father's name is Christmas, my guy, and he died on July 10th, 20 20 in Harare. He was 66 years old. In some communities regarding death stumbled, I thought it, my father passed away in Istanbul in April one, 20 20 when he was 68 years old.

[00:25:12]

As we plan for the future, city provides you with the financial expertise and agility you need to help you bank like your best days are ahead. That's tomorrow thinking empowering you to bank like you visit Citi Dotcom to get started. Member FDIC.