For Letshego Zulu, the passing of her husband Gugu Zulu was the catalyst for her to re-evaluate life and what it means to live with passion and purpose.
This year marks three years since racing driver Gugu died while trying to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. He was a part of a Trek4Mandela expedition to raise funds for sanitary pads for school girls.
Theirs is a 15½-year love story which came to a sudden and tragic end and the whole nation mourned alongside Letshego.
She was his wife but is also a well-known TV personality and fitness enthusiast.
Together they were known as an adventurous couple who summited mountains and took on life’s challenges with ease and grace.
Following Gugu’s passing, Letshego was left to pick up the pieces of her life.
After his death, I myself wondered what happened on the night of the tragedy, and wondered how Letshego managed to keep smiling and put on a brave face.
Her book gives the answers I needed and also provides insights into how the “Fastest Brother in Africa” as Gugu was fondly called, met the love of his life.
Through the 184 pages, Letshego has opened up about what grief has taught her and what she is most grateful for.
What is beautiful is how straightforwardly it’s written; the first few chapters giving you the answers you need to feed your curiosity.
“I lied back against his chest longing for his arms to wrap around me, knowing that they won’t – that they can’t, not now, not ever again. And almost immediately, I accept that he is gone” writes Letshego.
In the book, I learnt how brave Letshego was when she was on a mountain with limited medical help.
She and the team survived with limited resources but continued to forge ahead.
“A team of six guides, Richard and I gather around Gugs and when the doctor gives us a thumbs up, start running.
“I am unprepared for what lies ahead. It is dark, it’s freezing cold and we are roughly 28km away from medical assistance,” writes Letshego.
Never having experienced death so personally, I now have, through reading her book, a deeper understanding of what grief does and it’s helped me be more compassionate.
When Letshego spoke at her recent book launch, she related how she chose to understand – that it was time for Gugu’s exit in the world and how she refused to blame anyone.
This made sense to me, despite the “what-ifs” that had run through my mind before.
As much as I Choose To Live: Life After Losing Gugu is about death, grieving and the consequences of someone’s passing, it’s also about life, love and doing what makes your blood pump.
It’s an emotional journey, but a necessary one for anybody who has lost someone close to them.
This book will not leave you feeling sad, but happy to get up and go and live life to the fullest – because that’s what Gugu did and what Letshego is doing every day he’s not around.