My memories of that day were a series of fragmented images. The dreams I had that night. The unusual breeze of that fateful day. The hazy weather. The reluctance to go out that morning. And then the eventual phone call. The realities I couldn’t fathom. The excruciating pain that followed was indescribable. And then I went numb. I remember this day, June 2 many years ago. I remember it was just like any other day and I had woken up with some strange feelings.
Each year, as your anniversary approaches, I find myself, almost by habit, turning over and over and asking this rhetoric – What if things happened differently and I could still see you, and I could still call you on the phone to hear your voice. And I could still jump into your arms as you call me by that special name that only you loved to call me. Only once since that day, did someone tried to call me by that name. But that was at your funeral. I have asked the same questions today again, and I know that there will never be any satisfactory answers.
Your death defined my life in so many ways, as I grew up without you. There are so many days that I missed you. Days that I ache for you and wished that you were still alive. And today is another significant day where I wake up and that fact is still real. The fact that you are still dead.
You made me who I am. You helped me learn from my mistakes. You gave me hope and strength when I was lost and weak. You held my hands when I needed encouragement and you slapped me with the truth when I needed to be brought back down to Earth. I refuse to feel emptiness and loss today. I refuse to cry even though I miss you as deeply as ever, as deeply as I always will.
I remember every June 2nd with nostalgia. Though many years has elapsed, it still feels like yesterday. The tears may have dried, the pain subdued, but the sweet memory of you will forever linger on and on and on in my heart, in our hearts. Sure, you live forever in our hearts.
For me, I see that part of you that you gave to me each time I look at the mirror. I see your face in my face. Yes, I see you in me. Your smiles, and your deep dimpled face. My inheritance from you was and still is “My Simple Dimple”. It was the best of them all which I so much appreciate because it is etched in me and reminds me of you every day.
Today, I spoke to Mama and we talked about you. We re-enacted some of your jokes and we remembered that day you asked her to step out of the kitchen because your daughter was around and would cook your meal until she returns to her base. Yes, I cooked your favourite Nsala-Egusi Soup with Pounded Yam that evening. And you ate it with so much relish. You went back to your room and when you returned, you had two big tubers of yellow yam (Ji oku). You gave them to me and said “I know you love this particular yam so much. Take these tubers with you when you return to Lagos and enjoy it with your favourite vegetable sauce. My daughter, this is my way of saying thank you for a delicious meal…” Mama and I and my siblings, all busted out into bubbles of laughter. We joked further into the dark night and you prayed for me that day.
Death wasn’t kind. It snatched where it could, taking people who we love so dearly. Death wasn’t kind. It cuts so deeply. Taking people far too soon from their families. Death wasn’t kind. It comes stealthily, stealing the precious of our hearts. Death wasn’t kind. Taking people who are too good, too nice and too loving away from the face of the earth.
Death wasn’t kind. It took my dearest Papa away at a time when I needed him most in my life. Indeed, if tears could build a stairway, I would walk right up to heaven and bring you back, Papa. And if memories were a lane, I would bring you home again so we can all chatter like we used to.
But the grim reaper doesn’t pretend. The grim reaper shows no mercy and distinguishes not. It broke our hearts into several pieces. I want you to know that in life we loved you dearly Papa. And in death we still love you. It broke our hearts to lose you, Ezigbo Nnam.
Raphael Owala, you would have seen me now! I have grown into that unassuming woman. Into a fine creature, fine by your virtues and values. Fine by the moral codes you taught us all. We are all grown now. Mama is fine and I know she misses you. We are taking good care of her, remember we did promise you that too, that fateful day.
Continue to sleep in the bosom of the Lord.
Continue to rest in peace.
Peace and Love!
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