Losing a parent is heart wrenching, but losing two parents, honestly, I still haven’t found the words for that one… I know how it feels though because it is my reality.
My siblings and I lost both our parents 2 years apart and when I tell you that our world as we knew it changed forever, believe me it did. We hadn’t even gotten over the death of our father, who passed away first and then BOOM, our mother passed away too. The ones who covered us, protected us, shielded us, and loved us oh so unconditionally were gone. It still stings when I think about it, but that’s life.
After the death of my mother, for the first time in my life, I, the one who always seemed to have it all figured out, felt so lost and almost hopeless – my world stopped. I did not feel like being or doing anything and there was the constant reminder directly or indirectly, that I am the first born and I owed a responsibility to my siblings to be there for them. I will come back to this.
When I was a little girl, I had this constant tugging on my heart to help people. First, my parents were very charitable. They were the kind of people who would give their last to anyone who needed it, so this was an example that we emulated. There was someone else who inspired me – Late Mrs. Stella Obasanjo. She ran charities that supported young mothers and orphans and each time I caught news of her work on TV, I always said I wanted to be like her.
At the time, the image of the mission I had in my head was coined “Gentle Hands” – It was going to be this huge building where I would take in everyone who lived on the street and teach them all sorts of vocational skills to better their lives. I would tell this to my parents and siblings. I was always a big dreamer. My imagination always and still runs wild. I just always believe anything is possible if you can imagine it.
What I didn’t know back then was that I was manifesting what I am doing today. My only wish is that my parents were alive to witness it.
Back to my experience with loss. I had to be strong for my siblings. I had to get us through this. Now, this story would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the family and friends who surrounded us and helped us navigate these uncharted waters. We will forever be grateful to them. During this process of acting the first born, acting the leader, being the standard, I completely neglected myself and my own mental health and this led to several episodes of burnout, one of which led to me being really ill for about 4 months. I remember saying to God one night, that if He got me through that season, I would focus and do everything He had planted in my heart to do. I had registered the company “The Jewel Center” the year my mother passed away as she was the inspiration behind it. She always referred to my siblings and I as her Jewels of inestimable value.
The Jewel Center went through its own journey. I started off thinking I should cater to just women, then it became a co-working space, then it slowly but steadily morphed into that childhood dream I had, it became for everyone – My desire for women to live for themselves, to have their own voice, to hold on to the keys to their own happiness, my desire to create spaces for men to be comfortable with asking for help and addressing their emotions without feeling it is a weakness, but an act of courage, my desire for students to not just be academically sound, but to be more mindful, self-aware, emotionally intelligent, purpose and value driven, and giving them opportunities to act on these, that is The Jewel Center.
We have so much in store at The Jewel Center. The most exciting is our first product which we will be launching before the end of the year. We are being very intentional about creating a safe space for everyone and would soon open our doors to partnership opportunities to further develop and grow this mission – the mission of giving everyone space to be themselves and be there for themselves more.
I will end this by saying, when you are lost, it means you have worn off your old character and you need to rebuild yourself. This was my, and still is the journey I am on, and I am glad to share this with the world through The Jewel Center. I hope you will come on this journey with us.