In a letter to her younger self, Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi adviseson how to move forward through grief and embrace challenges.
“Life will have fences, potholes, and dead ends. But you can always make a U-turn.”
My Sweet Little Baby Anita,
You are a very special child. There is no one else like you, and there will never be another in all infinity. Always remember that, and know that you are perfect.
As you grow older, you will notice changes in life. But most of all, I want you to live your life to the fullest. Yes, life will not be easy. There are things that we really have no control over, and we have to leave it to God.
You will have your father for only 17 years of your life. I beg you to treat every moment with him like gold. He is a loving and caring man, and he has a lot of wisdom in him. He will teach you so much about life and people and most especially, about boys. You will surely enjoy being around your dad because he is so much fun. You will watch cartoons with him, and he will make the times you share together very memorable.
In primary school, boys will write you letters, and this will make the other kids make fun of you. But your dad will hold your hand and tell you that everything is ok. Don’t worry. That phase will come and go.
In your second year of secondary school, a cyst will grow on the left side of your face. You’ll have to be operated on because it will affect your speech. Your father will be with you throughout the operation and even after the operation, he will support you. The scar on your face will be significant, and many people will notice that your right eye is smaller than your left. But do not let this affect your self esteem. In God’s eyes, and in your parents’ eyes, you are the most beautiful girl to walk this Earth. Always remember that there is only one Anita like you. There will never be another like you.
Anita, the year 1997 will be a sad year for you. You will have to be strong both for yourself and for your siblings and your mother. The beginning of the year will be good because your father will win a rally and you will celebrate. Please always remember to tell him how much you love him and how much you appreciate him.
The month of May will always be an important marker for you. You celebrate your birthday in May, but your father will also be taken from you during this month. He will be taken from you the day after your birthday, and he will give you a ring as a gift. Hug him and tell him how you truly love him and how grateful you are that he is your father.
On the 15th of May, 1997, he will leave for work and walk past your bedroom door. In your sleepiness, walk to him and give him a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Tell him you love him with all your heart because that is the last time you will see your father.
Life after that will not be easy. You will not have a father figure to guide you and give you the confidence and esteem you will need. But you will turn out just fine. Secondary school will be hard because it will always bring memories of your father coming to school to visit you. But you will overcome. You will study hard and make it to University. You will miss Government sponsorship by only a few points, but that will be okay. You are already a success in life, Anita.
At University, you will meet all kinds of people. You will meet those who will remain in your life until your last day. You will meet those who come into your life and leave your life without having an impact. You will have relationships that break your heart, but that will make you stronger.
Don’t let anyone ever bring you down, Anita. You are perfect and will always be perfect. If anyone tries to break you, know that they are already broken. They want to console themselves by breaking another person. You will be a very strong headed girl who will be very successful in life.
Life is what you make it; try and maintain your friendships because they will play a very big role in your life, both for networking in the future and also for those moments when you need a hug or a shoulder or a talk over coffee.
Anita, you will make your mother and late father very proud.
You will graduate University, and after that you will hunt for jobs and you will not be successful right away. I advise you to look for charity organizations and volunteer work so that you can gain experience. Charity work will become your passion, and you will enjoy it.
I know deep down in your heart you will want a salaried job so that you can start helping your lovely mother. But, my dearest Anita, this will not be easy. You will need to work the ladder step by step. You will love working with communities. And one day, you will start your own organization and be self employed.
You will meet someone special who will adore you, and you will have three beautiful and adorable daughters. So my dearest baby Anita you will be very successful in life.
Remember to always look out for your siblings. They, like you, lost a father. Always be there to listen to what they have to say and to advise them. You may not always have answers, but listening is important. Give a hug to someone who is hurting, even if you don’t know what to say.
Anita, as a first born, everyone thinks you have it all figured out. But you are like anyone else, you are trying to figure things out as you go.
Live your life. Go out with your friends. Laugh as much as you can. Make sure you spend time with your children; they will treasure those moments always.
And remember, life will have bumps. Life will have fences, potholes, and dead ends. But you can always make a U-turn. And I will be there to guide you and hold your hand as you do.
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