I danced to Micheal Jackson's Thriller at my father's memorial … here’s why

Temi Giwa
6 min readFeb 23, 2024

A year ago (ironically on Valentines' Day) my father passed away.

It was the culmination of five years of fighting with an intelligence-destroying, strength-draining, dignity-stealing disease that doctors struggled to identify and no medicine (modern, traditional, homeopathic or technological) seemed able to treat.

I watched the most brilliant, most disciplined, strongest, most determined man, I’ve ever known wither away into a shell that was constantly in pain and could not move anything but his eyeballs without help.

Watching that process is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. In my darkest most vulnerable moments I told my closest friends that I was afraid people would think I didn't love him because I didn’t think I would cry at his funeral. I was scared that I’d just be relieved he wasn’t suffering anymore.

I didn’t think anything could hurt me more than watching him slowly and painfully suffer his way to death.

I could not have been more wrong

He died at around 9pm on February 14th in the LASUTH critical care unit, after about a week and millions of Naira of emergency care that week alone. He died hooked up to tubes and wires and a crash cart trying to jump-start his heart.

I knew it was time. Shit, I’d prayed and begged God for this exact moment. But that didn’t matter at all. When confronted with the reality, of never seeing him again, I begged him not to go. To not leave me alone and for it not to be the end.

But it was the end and it felt like a part of my soul was in that bed being pronounced dead with him.

Two days later we buried him with very little fanfare or hoopla. Because he was born a Muslim and we wanted to honour him, the way his religion and family wanted. And to be honest, at the time it was a relief to do something small and quiet at a time when we had to cope with three funerals in three days.

But my mom, sisters and I knew he deserved so much more than that. And so we made a pact. In a year, when we’d had a little bit of a chance to heal, we’d honor him the way we knew he deserved.

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Temi Giwa

I write about starting and growing new things. Mostly around startups and how to build your own. I also have opinions … lots of them … come fight me 🤦🏾‍♀️