Now that the countdown has ended and the confetti has cleared, I realize that I miss Oprah. Like really, really miss her. When Oprah first announced that she was going to end her talk show, my inbox was flooded with messages. Even my boss called to see how I was coping. In the last four years, my colleagues at the bank had become accustomed to the fact that I set my lunch at 2pm, so I did not miss an Oprah show. For four years they mocked this routine, so it made sense that they jokingly anticipated my mental breakdown.
The final show aired on May 25th. I absorbed my final moments with my mentor with a calmness that surprised me. Sometimes, I took notes but during poignant moments; I reached for my camcorder to capture her smile or her sagesse. I did not cry. It felt complete
Everyone has their icon. A rock star or celebrity who you love so hard that you are convinced they must feel it and thus love you back. For multitudes it is Michael Jackson, for others it is Nas, Beyonce, Billy Graham or Youssou N’dour… I have always loved Oprah. For as long as I can remember she has been my rock star. In fact, had my mother allowed me to stick posters on my wall, I would have plastered it with all things Oprah. It started when I was 12 or 13. MNET, the South African cable provider, began airing episodes of Oprah in Ghana. Unfortunately, it was in the afternoon, so I would rush home from school in time to catch the segment called “remembering your spirit.” It was my favourite part of the Oprah show and the first tool that connected me with my soul. The segment was later cancelled, but the seed had already been planted. Over the years, I sought to expand my knowledge with book club favourites like ‘Seat of the Soul (Gary Zukav), ‘A return to love’ (Marianne Williamson) , ‘Getting the love you want’ (Harville Hendrix) and ‘A new earth’ (Ekchart Tolle). Oprah was accused of new age demagoguery, but I knew they were wrong. For me, the teachings in these books created a thirst for the word of God and a hunger to align myself with God’s purpose for my life. When Oprah laid out her ‘pay it forward challenge’, I challenged my bank and my clients to donate school supplies to 3 orphanages in Ghana and the results were phenomenal.
I learnt so much from watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. She told me that nobody can complete YOU and that using cheap shower gel scums the bath tub. She taught me how to make my first Thanksgiving Turkey. She taught me what is worth holding on to and what to let go of. She awakened me to the power within. Once, Oprah taught her audience how to make pomegranate Martinis for a cocktail party. I went out and bought vodka and the pomegranate essentials. I planted her favourite hydrangeas in my garden and mailed an invitation for her and Gayle to visit my home in Toronto for pomegranate cocktails. They never came, I downed the vodka. It was not the first time I had written to her Oprah and it would not be the last. I continued to send letters, emails and even video submissions hoping that one day, I would get the call to be an audience member. I believed it was going happen. In the final hours when the countdown to the final show narrowed to single digits, I still believed. I had a powerful inclining that the call was coming…
Sometimes she would appear in my dreams. I am in her bedroom, we are having a conversation. I don’t remember what it is about, but it is as beautiful as the white linens we are lying on. I wake up only to close my eyes to continue the dream. But no matter how tightly I squeeze my eyelids, I can’t roll the dream into reality. Some dreams don’t come true, but Oprah often says “God can dream a bigger dream for you”. I believe her. The hydrangeas I planted have blossomed into a beautiful bush envied by the entire neighbourhood. When the summer is over, I cut long stems of the flowers and place it around my home. It is a constant reminder of the woman who taught me so much. To my sister-mother-friend, TV is not the same without you. I miss you. I pray that the road ahead is sprinkled with roses and your favourite hydrangeas, but above all, I offer you 20 years of indescribable gratitude.