For the first time; I attended two funerals in one—and amazingly, it was like a sober wedding. Just that most people were dressed in black and were crying, tears of sadness and goodbye. Adieu to the couple starting another life. Farewell to the couple of Wahito and Mbugua, so inseparable, that they died in each other’s arms at the devastating Westgate Terrorist Attack. The duo had been at Westgate to buy wedding bands for their upcoming wedding just before the shooters stormed into the mall.
The late Rosemary Wahito was never a bridezilla, I was. At least from a 2011 photo shoot we did together for our friend Tabby’s business catalog for her line of wedding gowns. I remember I had to rush back to my former office (BBC) for some work. I literally made Tabby and the photographer hurriedly finish with my part of the shoot. But they convinced me to share the moment indoors with Wahito, as she would be having a special solo out-door shoot as soon as I left.
Wahito was down-to-earth, gracious and a very classy lady. I met her through my cousin Lau and her best friends. It’s always been a tight-knit friendship between about five girls: Wahito, Lau, Mtoni, Sarafina, Tabby and Herenia. During family events of either girls, from graduations to weddings and photo shoots, my cousin would drag me to most of them. A lot of times, I was envious of how the girls would do lunches and dinners and all those fancy things. Because they were a little older than me, I must say they inspired me to be as classy.
Wahito was very fashionable and I never saw her not wearing high heels. “Her impeccable fashion sense and jaw dropping collection of shoes will be frozen in time forever in our minds,” – never read a more befitting eulogy. I remember meeting Wahito and Mbugua at a concert recently, where they were supporting one of Mbugua’s relatives – a female singer. The two were all up on each other and clearly in love. That’s the only time I met Mbugua, Wahito introduced him as her man. I got the vibe that he was a good man and protective, the good-kind. But I could never imagine that he would soon be taking eight bullets while shielding his wife-to-be.
At their joint-funeral dubbed, “A celebration of Love”, it was so uplifting to hear both families of the deceased console and applaud each other, almost like it really was the wedding-that-never-was. Mbugua’s Dad said, “After meeting her, Mbugua called me and asked, ‘Dad what do you think?’ – And like he’d taught me, I said, ‘Good Stuff!’ I had already started thinking about the future lineage of their family. Wahito’s family, so sorry for losing your beautiful daughter. I thank her for bringing my son such happiness.” And the sisters of Mbugua said, “Thank you Wahito for taking care of our brother, you were always like a sister to us.” Among other tributes, Wahito’s nephews and nieces were twice as sad. That their auntie has passed on and they won’t be matching as flower boys and girls at her wedding. That’s when I remembered that beautiful day, when we had an entire afternoon doing the wedding gowns photo shoot. She was such a natural, and beautiful, and all her gowns fitted perfectly. I miss you Wahito.
But who are we kidding? What happens to wedding vows when you actually die and get laid to rest together? Death can’t and won’t separate you Wahito and Mbugua. Exactly a week, after your untimely demise, you would be both engaging your families in dowry talks, and in another, getting married. But like Monopoly, now you’ve got a free pass – do not stop – go directly and pass the finish line.
BONUS: To Wahito’s girls, stay together in her honour. My condolences to families and friends of the lovely couple; you are now one because of the power of love. You might like this poem I wrote in memory of what happened at Westgate: Lessons of Love