It’s never easy saying goodbyes, because sometimes, -most times- the byes are not good; they are sad-byes and make-you-weep-your-eyes-out byes. Sometimes they shatter our glass-hearts; sometimes the byes serenade our existence, because it’s in saying those byes that our eyes are open to the possibility of newness. Of a sun, so bright and proud, making its way out of the blue clouds wavering above our heads.
Another thing quite nefarious about goodbyes are its unexpected happenings. We always never prepare for them; though, we quite feel the need to. But it never happens. Some people always wait for the right time for it to come; never knowing the time has come; that the time comes every second; that everything is now or never. By people, I mean me, myself. Never preparing for this moment when I have to say goodbye to the matriarch of my family, my dearest grandma!
There was something that happened the few days after my grandma passed. It was in the moments when I unconsciously forgot to remember her. Those moments in-between work or sharing a laugh with my friends, it was in those moments that the distance between the times I last thought of her grew longer. Then, later, when I do remember to miss her again, - when I’m bored-stuck in the heat of Lagos traffic and randomly realize that there is no one else that would pray so fervently for me- there is a stabbing pain that pierces my entire being. And then I have guilt, such guilt, because it's been too long since I last thought about her.
And then slowly, sneakily, like the rash on a baby’s skin, that guilt starts to spread out, starts to wrap itself around my neck, and starts to choke me. It tries to form an eternal sunset of what I am now, of what life is now without mama…only if I would let it. But I won’t let it. For I know that if grief and death are strong, then I am stronger, -that we the living are stronger, because it passes away and we remain.
How peaceful it was, that early Wednesday morning with the light morning breeze stirring the small leaves of the guava tree in the compound, how lovely of the wind to eavesdrop against her wooden window, to hear her heart so faint and yet so fulfilled, beat to it’s stop. How magnificent, the physics of falling leaves, the rash scent of food spices, the color of the sky, black coffee and the warmth of cashmere, literature and hums of the subway trains. It would all seem like that was what she wanted: the calm of dying at home, surrounded by the ghost of good and warm memories, the smell of a familiar bed sheet and with all the angels of laughter. I want to believe that the insects that clustered around the electric bulb in the veranda, making the shadows move and change on the titles below, watched as angels lead her in.
I won’t say many words. Words are so feeble when the world seems sort of empty- when all the dreamers and warriors and dancers leave with aches of joint and all the artistes crack their knuckles. Words are sacred when faced with the loss of someone and you cant fathom just how tiny we all are in this big world; tiny, that the world doesn’t seem to stop to help us grieve; that the days carry the living along and the dead are left behind. Words are bullets and iron knives when people are hovering around you, waiting for you to say something, and so it becomes disconcerting to know that no matter what I say, everything will go on without Mama. That the world will keep turning, the seconds will keep ticking. That the sun will come up and go down, that the audacity of the wind will still cause the avocados to fall, that the birds will sing, the stars will wheel overhead exactly as they had before.
But still, even if I choose to speak a silence that deafens; every space in my house and in my hometown and in all the little corners of my community will still be left empty in a way that could never be filled.
My grandma is too much of a strong woman to be thought of as nothing but shovels full of brown sand already scattered over a dug hole; or as a broken link, some sort of eternal withdrawal from a reality that now dwindled through a white hollowness. My grandma is strong enough to be in my memory forever, still obscurely alive, breathing, moving and praying for me, till the sun goes red over my head.
I do know that occasionally, the presence of her absence will hit me like a blow to the chest, and it would evoke so many feelings within me. But eventually, this will happen less and less as time goes on. I will think of her wisdom, the kindness of her soul, the warmth of her smile, her loving scolds, her praying tongue, her guarding arms and her love that knew no boundaries. You see, the difference between the guava trees behind my grandma’s window and I is that the trees let go of their leaves with seasons. I will keep holding onto mine- all the memories of you, of us- forever.
But I shall mourn. I shall drain the bitter dregs of mortality. I shall say goodbye to my grandma like we were two people who met in a café by the street corner, and coincidentally ordered the same thing on the menu, and shared a lifetime of stories while we ate and laughed and cried, and later left, feeling fulfilled yet wanting more, but knowing we’d meet- anywhere, somewhere, somehow- again.
And so with closed eyes, a heart not beating, but a living love; I’m sure my grandma is up in the sky. Somewhere with color and light and air.
Goodbye my loving Grandma; all my love, all my heart, all our memories.
SONG BENEATH A SONG:
August came yummy with music!
So, I got two albums that I'm absolutely obsessed with: The Civil Wars' self titled sophomore album "THE CIVIL WARS", and Andrew Belle's sophomore album- after 3 years damn it-, BLACK BEAR.
These albums are well crafted and beautifully written, also with flawless production; so I decided to share my stand-out tracks from each. Please do listen and support these amazing artistes.
1, Dust to Dust- The Civil Wars
2, The Enemy- Andrew Belle