When Is Mourning Enough?
Childhood is a shield. You’re shielded from loss, protected from the emptiness that comes from it.
I remember the first time anything died around me; it was our snow-white monkey named ice that my father really loved. I saw him cry for the first time, and I couldn’t make sense of it. It’s just a monkey? Right?
But that’s how mourning is. It doesn’t make sense.
I was 12 when my father died; he’d been sick and in the hospital for a while. I hardly went to see him; I couldn’t bear to see my father, who was the fittest person I knew at 65, now barely able to feed himself. He died the day I finally decided I would see him, and my siblings and I never attended the funeral. My step-siblings thought we were too young to go to our father’s funeral. I never got closure, I still struggle with thinking about how our last conversation would have gone. I wonder if I’d have handled it better if I got my last goodbyes.
At first, it was just an empty feeling that grew bigger. Then my graduation came, and I could barely get out of bed, mostly as I’d spent the night crying. It was then matriculation day, and little pockets of parents flashed their teeth and hauled coolers of jollof rice for their kids.
It’s been 12 years, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about my daddy smiling as he played the guitar for us under the moonlight. I’ve gone through some phases; first, I was angry. How could he have left us alone? Then came acceptance. But usually, that circled back to anger once I get an offer from an old man to take care of me. I could have sworn there was something that announced my vulnerability to them. Maybe it was just my big bumbum, as I’ve heard many times.
“You sef! How can your bumbum be this big for your age? How do you expect us to behave?”
When you’re young, you’re conditioned to believe that you grow old with all your friends before you die. It was only rare instances people died in their youth. Now that I’m grown, I know better. We were just removed from it at the time.
People die. I’ve lost 2 people that really hit close to home in the last couple of months, and boy. It doesn’t get easier.
it’s not the loss in itself that rips you apart and keeps you in bed most days. It’s the guilt from all the things that you never got to do. The things you assume you could have done tomorrow. I left johnson’s last message unread; I never got around to delivering the dress I bought for Oby.
It’s the thought that it could be you each day, and sometimes, the anxiety cripples you. It makes you wonder what the whole point of chasing your dreams are. After all, what is the point? Why are we even here? How do you earn death in your prime? or dying in a crash?
The thing with mourning is, there’s no expiration to it. Because the people you love are truly, gone forever. As time goes by, everyone around you expects you to move on. Of course, we move, but how about those times I want to ask my father about a decision I’m making. Or when I remember my dearest friend who was looking forward to raising her own family?
When is mourning enough? When is the right time to stop?