It’s been a year today since my friend Karissa passed. I only have the fondest memories of our time together. She is one of the fiercest women I have ever known, and I’m sure she would be in all black today commemorating Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, another relentless powerful force.
As you may have read in my previous post Karissa was the reason I finally started this very blog. She was always a source of inspiration for me and many others. The way she lived her life and always made a point to give back was so tremendous that I truly believe she was an angel among us.
We met back in February 2009 on Valentines Day. We dubbed it ‘Anti-Valentines Day’ because we hated the whole idea of the day and the commercialised Western mess it was. I knew we’d be besties from that alone. Never mind the fact that she was there with her boyfriend Fazlur and I was rolling solo. Still am. I didn’t mention this in the last post, but she gave me a massage regarding finding love and not to bother with people who don’t deserve me. She said this often in the living too. I know better now.
I spent part of this morning looking at her Facebook page, reading her posts and laughing at memories captured in photos. I LOL’d at the pics from her 25th or 26th birthday where she hung out the sunroof of a friends car with a bottle of champagne in her hand. I was obviously terrified, but this daring girl always acted on her feelings and at that moment she wanted to feel the wind.
Our friendship consisted of a lot of laughter because we were complete dorks and were obsessed with comedy and silly things. We’d spend hours on YouTube and if weren’t watching it together, we’d be sending each other BBM’s (I know right!) on what we needed to watch. We danced, and danced, and danced! Karissa didn’t care for my love of pop music, but we clicked when it came to Hip-Hop. She and Lerato (her housemate and bestie – a very unlikely trio) had their own dance moves which were HI-LARIOUS. The KSam and the Lamz dance. I wish you could’ve seen these two shimmying to the “This Is Why I’m Hot” reggae remix, amazing!
She saw so much in me and my hidden talents that she asked me to join the board of her brain child, The Ntshulisa Foundation, helping out with Marketing and Social. A non-profit organisation that started as orphanage Christmas parties which grew to prominence in Gauteng and Cape Town with it’s many projects helping underprivileged youth with dental care, self-esteem workshops and sanitation drives for girls, annual winter drives and many more. Karissa would stay up at night dreaming up and actually implementing the best ways to help those in need. Her name is popular in Alex and Hillbrow because she impacted those communities so much that they really knew her as a Godsend with the hugest heart. Features in the South African O magazine, covers of Destiny Magazine, this lady was unstoppable. She is the true example of walking and living in your purpose to such an extent that the universe (as an energy and being) will walk right beside you.
I remember the day she called me to tell me of her breast cancer diagnosis. I was in Aachen, Germany for on-the-job training with my previous employer, Ericsson. It was a bright sunny day that suddenly turned dark gray. “How?” “You’re so young!” “No, my friend. No.” I was in complete disbelief. It was particularly hard because my mother had shared the same news. Twilight zone. True to Karissa, she was so positive and made something so awful sound like some sort of opportunity. She was wild like that. Her and my mom got in touch with each other and supported each other through that time. Only they could fully understand what they were going through. The mood swings, the chemo, the hair loss, trying to remain strong and unaffected in the face of a cruel disease. I really appreciate the comfort and advice she gave my mom.
A couple of years on, my mother was late and on that very week of her passing I was at Karissa’s bedside at Mill Park Hospital. She was weak. Her bones were basically paper-mache from the cancer, but her eyes were bright with strength. Her soul could not be broken, but mine as. After that period I became distant and destructive. Seeing Karissa only highlighted the grief I was carrying and reminded me of what I had lost. I never got to speak about this with her, but I know she understands and forgives me.
KSam turned what seemed to be a curse into a beacon of hope, love, light, discovery and fearlessness. She was a conqueror and did everything she need to do on this earth. I am so proud of her mom for continuing her legacy and sharing her memory with the world so as to spread the kindness her daughter so generously did. I am so grateful to have known someone so special who only added to everything that I was.
I love and miss you so much my friend. This ones for you.
Follow Karissa’s Legacy on Facebook to find out ways you can help those in need at various orphanages through donations, volunteering or just seeing her amazing legacy and the lives she’s touched.