Some things happen that shake you to your very core. At about this time last year, a close friend called and asked "Have you heard anything about Chinwe?" I replied "Which Chinwe?" She said "Chinwe Okegbe." I said "please what happened to him?" By this time, my heart had started beating fast. "I heard he died." Then the shivers went down my spine, and my hands shook as I held the phone.
Chinwe had just graduated with distinction from Columbia with a phd in biological sciences in May. By the time of his graduation, he had a plum job offer waiting, but before starting the new job, he wanted to take a well deserved vacation. He died in July, in what seems to be a freak accident. Honestly, the whole thing still terrifies me to think about, and I haven't been able to muster up enough courage to go into a swimming pool since I heard. But I will do so eventually for closure.
My Columbia story will be incomplete without mentioning Chinwe's name. He went above and beyond to make sure I had a smooth transition into grad school life. He told me about all the cool restaurants around, and we had lunch at some of those places. Chinwe loved good food! One time he asked me to cook/organize some food for him, and I immediately told him to go get married, and took it as an invitation to match make him. Because of Chinwe I had my graduation dinner at a restaurant on campus and not Waldorf Astoria as I had considered because he said he had other graduation dinners to attend and didn't want to miss out on the free dinner invites! I obliged him, and looking back now, I am grateful for the opportunity to have shared such a special moment with him.
I can't believe a year has gone by so fast since he died. After his death, I made up my mind to pursue as many of my dreams as I can, since I don't know what tomorrow holds. I pray God continues to console his family and loved ones. I wish everyone well from the very bottom of my heart. Life is too short to do otherwise.