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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Celebration of Life: A Tribute to Charles Sirleaf

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By Senator Amara Konneh (Senator Gbarpolu County)

Losing a child is undoubtedly one of the most heart-wrenching experiences a parent can endure, and finding the right words to express condolences in this case is no easy task. When someone dies in our families, it is essential to honor their memories and celebrate their lives.

It is in these spirits that I join others to sympathize with our mother and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Sirleaf family for the death of her son and our brother Charles Sirleaf who passed away two days ago. He was 68.

In the quiet corners of my heart, there resides a picture of Charles in my house in Pennsylvania, USA on a hot summer evening sometime in June 2005 when he paid me a private visit during the 2005 Liberian elections.

That was our first meeting. That evening, I saw a man whose life was a beautiful melody, resonating with the most touching notes of humility, kindness, and unparalleled zest for life.

Today, as we mourn Charles’ death, I pray for him, for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and his family. As I prayed this morning, I also reflected on the journey of a soul so vibrant and full of life who brought unmeasured joy and happiness into the lives of those who knew him.

Charles had a heart that encompassed the world. His laughter was contagious, spreading like wildfire and lighting up even the gloomiest of days. His temper was sharp but short-lived. Always jovial, foul language was part of his vocabulary. He held no grudge for anyone.

His spirit was an ever-burning flame, igniting passion and zeal in everyone who had the privilege to know him. His journey on this earth, though tragically brief, was filled with moments of beauty, grace, and unforgettable joy.

Charlie had a rare gift, the ability to touch his mother’s life with a simple act of gratitude for all she did for him – cooking for her every Sunday. Yes, EJS didn’t eat anyone’s food but Charles’ home-cooked cabbage soup loaded with fish, chicken, and beef every Sunday after church. Charles himself went to the market, cooked, and delivered it to his mom’s house.

I never told him how much I admired and respected him for this kindness towards his mother. For those of us who never had the privilege to see our mothers live long, you understand how much we would have loved to do the same for them. Charles did it for his mom as we are reminded in Ephesians 6:1-4 in the Bible, “Honor your father and mother so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

The Quran supports this in Chapter 31 verse 4, “We have commanded people to be good to their parents: their mothers carried them, with strain upon strain, and it takes two years to wean them. Give thanks to me and your parents — all will return to me.”

Charles Sirleaf’s compassion knew no bounds, as he constantly sought to uplift those around him, fostering a community of love, support, and mutual respect. He was a beacon of hope, a pillar of strength, and a source of inspiration for many in Liberia.

In this moment of profound loss, I pray that Ma-Ellen and her family find solace in the beautiful moments we all shared with Charles – the laughter, the tears, and the countless precious memories – that will forever be etched in our hearts. We will remember him in the stories we tell, in the lessons he taught us, and in the love that binds us together, transcending the boundaries of time and space.

Losing two sons in two and a half years is too much for any mother, but we know you, EJS, to be a strong woman. As we sympathize with you, we are reminded of the joyous spirit, the vibrant energy, and the boundless love that defined your son’s life, which you taught him. Don’t cry. Don’t grieve too hard.

Let us celebrate a life well-lived, a journey that was both beautiful and inspiring. Let us honor his memory by living the remainder of our brief time here on earth with the same passion, kindness, and love that Charles exemplified throughout his journey on this Earth.

Your beloved son and our kind brother, Charles, will forever be in our hearts, a cherished memory, a beautiful dream, and a love that knows no end. May his soul rest in peace!


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