Death is merciless. It does not care that it wreaks havoc among the people he chooses to pluck a life from.
The widower of Joyce Laboso, Edwin Abonyo told the Star on Tuesday that he is yet to move on since his wife lost her battle with cancer on July 29 last year, breathing her last aged 58.
First diagnosed in 1991, Laboso was a survivor of the disease for 28 years only for it to relapse severely in March 2019. Her family sought treatment in the UK and India, but her condition deteriorated and the doctors later said nothing much could be done to save her. The family brought her back to Nairobi Hospital where she died.
Reflecting on the life without Laboso, Abonyo said it has not been rosy and that “interludes of sadness occasionally creep in, especially during occasions where I would naturally have been together, like family gatherings, funerals and Christmas, among others.”
“Loneliness has been a reality to me. It is something I battle with since Joyce left us,” he said, noting that the sting is even deep given they were not just spouses, but friends.
“I miss a mate, a friend, a mother to both our nuclear and extended family, a life partner, a truly inspirational wife who genuinely made a difference in my life and that of our children,” he said.
The two had been married for 36 years and were blessed with two children and adopted others from their extended families.
Abonyo said his children are also yet to move on and have a daily struggle to accept the finality of death.
“The children are equally affected and I believe they react just as I do. They are all trying their best to move on, make their mother proud and adapt to this new normal. Mother’s Day was particularly hard for them this year but they pulled through it, with their friends and each other’s support,” he said.
And to cope, he said, besides the support of family and friends, he is engaging himself in farming, business and other jobs to keep afloat and assuage his pain.
“One way I’ve dealt with it is by keeping busy in my farm, construction company, and the various boards I serve, including my recent appointment in State Corporation Advisory Committee,” he said.
“I also have a good support system of friends and family, who have helped to alleviate the loneliness. My advice to fellow lonely souls is to keep busy busy busy,” Abonyo added.
Besides the counselling he received during the illness of his wife, he said, he has not sought professional help citing unwavering support from friends and family members.
The family also announced the creation of Dr Joyce Laboso Global Cancer Education Fund whose mission is to help support medics interested in studying oncology to raise the number of such specialists from 35 to 1,000 in the country.
In a partnership with Ethics and Integrity Institute, the family said the fund will target a specialist from all the 47 counties annually for training in universities abroad.