Christmas Eve, we had to say goodbye to the only true father figure I knew. He was a man of wisdom, kindness, joy, happiness, discipline, great morals, etc… I can go on and on.
In 2001, I met Sulayman M. Jarra at the downstairs African Art Center on Montrose in Houston, TX. Little did I know, he would become the very thing that I needed to complete our family. My mother married him and for 14 years I had the pleasure of calling him my stepfather.
He was always kind to us. He would place his large hand on our heads and greet us by our names, he would watch basketball every night and eat oatmeal and bananas every morning. Whenever we needed something he would say it was possible on “Tuesday.”
In his last few months, he had grown tired. He would have hard times with normal things that happen to your body once you grow older but he kept getting up every morning and becoming stronger by the day. Every time I would see him I would say, “Don’t you be sick again! You’re gonna get in trouble!” jokingly.
When I received a call that he was rushed to the hospital, I felt sad but I knew he would push threw. In the two months that followed, he lost the battle with his body. December 23, 2016 we walked into the hospital and began the process of letting go.
Two hours after his breathing tube was removed something told me to get up and walk to him. I placed my hand on his heart and prayed to God.
“God, please come and get him. I don’t know if he’s scared or not ready, but please meet him and lead him down the path that he must go.”
It was then that he took his last breath.
December 24, 2016 I laid my hand on his heart again and I stared down at him while he slept silently. He appeared at peace and this brought me peace. One thing I admired most about him was that he always showed up wherever he was needed even if it didn’t quite mesh well with his style.
The day before he died, I asked him to meet me in my dreams at his favorite restaurant and we’ll have dinner every night. Because he always shows up, I know he’s going to hold onto his promise and meet me once he gets settled. Such a kind and gentle soul he was. I will never forget him and I will instill his ways in my children.
Rest in Paradise Sulayman Momodou Jarra. A name as strong as you.