When Maria departed from my life, she left with all that was good and sweet in me. The weight loss followed immediately and without respite. I hardly noticed the days and weeks that passed by me as silently as the breaking of dawn. I was barely aware of the burial ceremony that was held on her behalf, the words I spoke to the crowd of black clothed mourners, the hands I shook and the words that came with those handshakes. The lies that also came with them:
“it is well” It isn’t!
“You will get through this” No I won’t!
“She was such a wonderful person” Are you trying to make this harder for me?
“I understand how you’re feeling right now” Oh wow! Awesome
“It was just her time you know” I think it’s your time too you know! Can you die now?
By the time I eventually had to resume at the office, I had become a shadow of a shadow of myself. I kept to myself all the time, minimized interaction, stared into space for long periods of time, eyed everyone wryly and performed my tasks mechanically.
Against the advice of my friends, family, loved ones and the famzers, I left all her clothes as she had left them. Her night shirt was still neatly folded at the base of the bed where she had left it that fateful morning. Her side of the bed hadn’t been touched… in fact the entire bed hadn’t been touched. I was afraid of rolling over to her side, so I slept on the rugged floor.
In my dark corner, when I was alone. I asked myself the whys… the ‘what ifs’… the ‘what if nots!’ I replayed every minute of our time spent together that I could remember, I often went and squeezed myself into the car in which she lost her life…still as damaged as it was on the day of the accident. I tried to imagine her last moments. Her last thoughts. Her last words. Did she scream? Did she pray? Or was she mute with fear? The doctors assured me that her death it was instantaneous. Sometimes I opt to believe that they lied to me… to ease my pain. Not like it helped one bit… nothing helped.
People had learnt by now to give me space… to let me be. And so I was. By myself. Drowning in the memory of her.
Three months after she died, the doctor called me to come over. She had something to show me she said.
Dr. Ebele was our best friend you see, Maria’s chief bridesmaid and my twin sister. Even she of all people had kept her distance.
For some reason I went. Maybe I was bored. Maybe I had missed my sister. Maybe I was sick of the house. But I did go.
She met me at the front door and hugged me tightly. She smiled and pulled me. I went along quietly. Not asking what I was doing there. She took me to her office, and to the sink in the corner. She scrubbed my hands till they were pink and dried them with a clean towel.
All this while I hadn’t said a word to her. Growing up as kids, we always had this way of communicating with each other without words. But this time around, I had no clue what she was trying to tell me. I raised an eyebrow, but she just smiled and led me on to another room.
The curtains were drawn to prevent excessive sunlight, but the room was bright.
She led me to the end of the room. At that end was a cot. In the cot was a baby. A baby girl.
She had Maria’s eyes
You see, Maria was pregnant at the time of the accident. Mother and child died I was told.
But now I am being told that the baby was dying, so they told me she was dead… so as not pierce my soul a second time. The baby was premature and placed in an incubator where they watched her fight death for 3 months. Till they determined that she was stable and here to stay.
They wouldn’t have gotten away with it if the doctor wasn’t my Ebele… and the hospital wasn’t hers. She had watched the baby personally all the while she said. She had abandoned me for these 3 months to watch another part of me fight death.
At first I didn’t want to believe it. But Ebele had never lied to me. She wouldn’t now.
I took another step forward and looked into the cot again.
Maria’s eyes stared back at me. Maria’s child… my child.
I turned to face Ebele and she nodded softly, tears filling her eyes.
I carried my baby for the first time… ever so gently I held her.
And for the first time since my wife died, the tears flowed from my eyes.
I cried for my dead wife… who never had the chance to hold this bundle of joy
I cried for my baby… who’d never know what it felt to be held by my Maria
I cried for my baby…who I’d love and cherish with my last breathe.
“After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today, someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain”
This is dedicated to everyone who’s lost someone special. Indeed, there’ll be beauty from pain.