By Felly Oyuga
They say life and death go together.
I have always been fascinated by the dead, but not by the process of dying. That part scares me.
The last breath. What does it feel like? Do you know you are dying? Are you scared?
I expect I will close my eyes on this side and open them on the other side. I will be standing in front of a door that I will open carefully. As I slowly enter the room I will hear people I know burst into laughter. “What were you expecting? Pearly gates and white feathered men?” My dad would be the one to ask that question. I just know it. Then my mum would rush to me and give me the tightest hug and I would cry and ask, “What the fuck were you people so quiet about? I expected you to actively haunt my enemies!” They would show me the grand master plan, and it would all make sense. I would then ask my dad to take me to a Franco Luambo Makiadi concert. We would enjoy it and I would tell them about my children as if they do not know about them and catch them up on family gossip. That is what I expect the afterlife would be like.
Don’t they say we create our own heaven? That what we have been doing here, we shall continue doing after. Energy does not die. If you have been around someone who is dying, you would know they insist on doing their thing. My dad was always writing something. Even in his last days he was writing. He wrote his own eulogy.
I have had a lot of death around me. Yet death still feels so unfair. Sometimes I am angry at those who died. Why didn’t they fight hard enough to live? You know the way those motivational speakers like to say everything is possible if you believe it? Or the Christians who believe their Jesus can sort it all? Where are the positive thoughts and Jesus when people are dying? Mothers, fathers, good people, people we need. Why can’t we keep them alive?
My mother loved handkerchiefs. Little white handkerchiefs. Decorated with embroidery or painted. When I looked down at her in her coffin, I wanted her to have her handkerchiefs. At least one. She would have loved one. But you leave this world with nothing. Not even your body. Death is so upsetting. So cunning. So unfair.
When someone you know dies. Someone young. Someone vibrant. It is hard to process. You look at your children. You count them, ask them if you can look at their fingers. You hold their faces in your hands. You try to soak them in. In your heart, you tell them, “I didn’t die and cause my mother pain, you better not cause me pain”. A parent should not bury their children, they say. I am happy I saved my mother that sorrow. I say it like I have power over life and death. Then I say to myself…your mother left you at 22 so do better than your mother!”
My mother died when she was 47. I am working so hard to get to 47, then 51. My father died at 51. The years I get after that, my word I will live like a fifteen-year-old who thinks they are in love. Two fifteen-year-olds!
And I make many proclamations. Words I know don’t die. Like our bodies do. So I promise to love my children for eternity and forever. To protect them in this life and to fight for them from the next. To haunt their enemies until madness.
When I die. To those close to me. I’m sorry. I had to go. To my children, I am not really gone. I am around. I am praying for you. I am fighting for you. I am protecting you.
To my close ones. I probably never said this, but know this when I am alive. I love you. You know me. You know I probably only say this when I’m drunk.
My sister Audrey and Jacque, you know the ones who will sit in the tent and get bottled water. Smile. You know how we laughed. So laugh. Though I pray we grow so old together. Old till we lose our memory and teeth.
To you. Yes, you. Hopefully, I will tell you all about it in this life. I hope I master the guts. If I do not, you are special to me.
Death. So comforting yet so scary.
When my time comes, I am ready.
Those gone before, we miss your physical presence. We know you watch over us.
RIP Adisa and those COVID has claimed.
Jowi. Jowi. Jowi.