Of the many, many tragedies that taint my well-lived life, the one I probably regret with the most frequency is the fact that I don’t have a lot of pictures of my mother. I only have about two or three; not as much as five.
I don’t know; maybe it has to do with me not being much of a picture person. I’m the guy who disappears from groups when it’s time to take a picture. I don’t know; something about pictures just puts me off.
Maybe it’s the knowledge that I have to smile when I don’t feel like it (nothing personal; I usually don’t feel like it). Maybe it’s the idea that…oh, I don’t know. I just don’t like it. Whatever my reasons/excuses, they are why I don’t have a lot of pictures of her. As much as I loved to look at her; as beautiful as she was/is, it just didn’t occur to me to take more pictures of her. Despite being way into the smartphone age by the time of her untimely demise, I only have one picture of her taken with my phone. All the others are hardcopies.
It might not sound like a big deal, reading it like that, but think of the person you love most in the world. Think about the things you adore about them – like how they listen when you talk, how they hold your hand, how they call you for no reason, how their eyes light up when they see you, how they call your name – everything that makes them special to you; everything you know only comes in their package.
Now think about dealing with never seeing them again – literally.
Not that you don’t want to; unfortunately, the choice is moved out of your hands. They leave when you least expect it. They go without saying goodbye.
And what’s worse?
Not only do you have to deal with never understanding why what happened happened the way it did, you have nothing but your memories to remember them by. Not a keepsake, not a love note –
Not a picture.
And memory, even one as awesome as mine, is a frail thing. I remember thinking of my mother in terms of how she smelled, the smells I connect to my more pleasant memories of home, of growing up – coconut oil, Joy Soap and Imperial Lather. There was also one perfume – the name however eludes me now. I miss those smells – especially since coconut oil smells like plantain these days, Joy and Imperial Lather have forgotten where they came from, and home is an unfamiliar place.
If I could go back, apart from taking hundreds of photographs of this great woman, I would also make sure to record her voice. Common, one of the greatest rappers ever and one of my personal favorites, had his father frequently contribute to his albums till the man died in 2014. Imagine how comforting for him it would be; being able to touch a memory of his father whenever he felt a need to. I wish I could listen to my mother’s voice once again – but I still hear it in my head; as clear as a bell.
She’s just as warm as ever.
The physicality of my mother is preserved by a headstone, a few pictures and a letter that contains everything I need to know to live a fulfilled life. The most important things however; her spirit, her warmth, her gracefulness, her kindness – these are the things I will always have with me, the things that defined her essence.
And nothing can take those away from me.
PS: Remember those tragedies I spoke about?
They are the ink and blood that make the tapestry of an otherwise bland life colorful and interesting. They are the things that make me who I am, because no matter how tragic my circumstances have been, I always find a why to smile.
And that’s enough. I hope you get/got the message.
Oh, and one more thing:
Happy Birthday to Me.
The thing about clichés is; they’re often true.
One very annoying thing; cliché if you will, people say when things go wrong is ‘it is well’.
Trust me; I know how annoying that shit is. Here I am, tearing my eyes up over the loss of someone who gave me life and gave my life meaning – and all your tired ass can say is ‘it is well.
Educate me, how the fuck is it well?!
I know how you feel.
I also know that, for the most part people who say that shit mean well. They just don’t know the proper way to say what they want to say.
Okay, how about we do it like this – what if instead of saying ‘it is well’ they said ‘and this too shall pass’?
Feel me now?
As different as both phrases look, essentially they’re saying the same thing – no matter what is happening to you, it will pass. One way or another, it will.
Think about it. Someone has just been diagnosed with Type A Cancer – the type that cannot be cured, fuck chemo. Their world comes crashing; they die before their due date.
Who can blame them?
However, this person is in a unique position; they possess a knowledge most of us will never have; they have an idea of when they’re going to die.
Do you have any idea how powerful that makes them? They can do things the rest of us are without fear of consequence; they have nothing to lose anymore. The worst has already happened.
Their fates are sealed. ‘And this too shall pass’.
Getting the picture? I’m not trying to make light of whatever anyone is going through; and sometimes, all we want is silence instead of lame attempts at consolation. However, reality is reality is probably the most subjective thing on this side of things –
It depends on how you look at it.
Everything that has a beginning has an end. If there’s any certainty, it is that. You’ve heard the one about ‘not living seriously because none of us are getting out alive’, right?
I remember something I shared in a conversation; ‘Death has been around the longest, yet we’re still not used to it’. An unfortunate truth – but true nonetheless. And if we know, death is certain, why don’t we spend each day living, knowing what we know?
Sometimes, I feel like this life – this entire existence is purposeless. Sometimes, I wonder why I’m here, why I don’t just take a cold drink of something hot and end the freaking thing. Sometimes I wonder…what exactly I’m here for.
Sometimes I can’t figure out what the next thing is. Funny, I know.
You know what though?
Those moments of doubts are just part of the whole process. I mean, to create anything there has to be moments of doubts, moments in which you question if it’s going to work or if you’re just wasting your time. How else do you get through times less that but by stiffening your spine, squaring your shoulders and telling yourself ‘it is well’?
I assure you – everything you’re worrying about or obsessing over will soon be over. Sooner OR later. Everything; including life itself, has an expiry date. We’re all just winding down. And since they say ‘today is the tomorrow you prayed/worked for yesterday’, does it not make sense to realize that – everything will; sooner or later become history?
No matter what it is, it’ll be over soon.
So – believe them when they say; ‘It Is Well’.
Because. It really is.
I was discussing with someone on Monday, on the prevalence of suicide and depression. He said its always been bad – but we didn’t know enough to do anything about it.
True; I said, but that’s only part of it. The other part is; we’re more alone now than ever.
Think about it. I grew up at a time when there were no cellphones. No Internet. There were Nitel and Nipost – and that was it. We actually had to look for each other to hear from each other. Boys would come to my house and vice versa if there was a party in the neighborhood. Trust me, if you invited one of us, you better be ready to host all of us. Those were the days of bathing in the afternoon, stealing mom’s perfume and walking around the area hoping to run into some fresh girl.
Yeah. The days of five aside every Saturday morning, church on Sunday and rice after church. The days of Christmas clothes and…
Now, we look for each other on social media. We take posts and tweets to mean the other person’s fine – forgetting sometimes that we’re so self-conscious we’d rather act like everything’s fine than be labeled attention whores. These days in which we’re all talking and nobody’s listening. I could be in a silo for days. Drinking aftershave and crying. How would you know? Why would you care?
I’m just saying. Reach out. Let’s go see a movie. Hang out. The beach. Walk. Eat Pizza – whatever. You don’t have to walk it alone. You don’t have to do it online either. Reach out. Sometimes, all we need is just a listening ear.
I got two of those. I’m sure someone close to you does too. How much talking do you think can fill all the ears you know? At the very least, send me an email via email@example.com. We can start from there.
Talk. We dey here.
They said we forgot.
They said that’s how we are; we’re shouting now, but in a week or so we’d have moved on to more important things. Until the next rape, till someone else beats their spouse to death before we start shouting about domestic violence. That until the next suicide, then the hashtags will start pouring in, and the support groups will remember their responsibility again.
Until then, they say….
And for a moment – it did seem like we did. Life goes on, doesn’t it? We get swept up in our drama, our touch points – things we do to keep ourselves together. We started to talk about forged certificates and government jokes and jokers – and we let suicide slide. For a moment.
But no, we didn’t forget. How can we forget about one of ours?
It may seem like nobody’s listening; especially in today’s world in which everyone is clamoring for attention. It may seem as though we’re waiting for the next bandwagon to ride to wherever it desires to take us, the next Facebook posts, the next hashtags.
But it’s not true. We’re here. And we’re listening.
You are not alone.
#MentallyAwareNg #WeHearWeCare #SuicideWatch
I used to be very angry.
Yup. I was a very passionate young man with unlimited energy. I wanted to fix everything I considered wrong with the world. I’m sure if I was in a country where procuring guns is as easy as walking into a store, I’d have become a vigilante.
My world view was very much like Rorschach’s – black and white. No middle ground.
And, very much like Rorschach, my refusal to compromise would have gotten me killed. Undoubtedly.
Or worse – I’d have ended up in a padded room.
But because for the most part I meant well, I was forced to learn more. And the more I learned, the more I realized – there’s a lot more to life than one-dimensional perspectives. And the more I realized, the calmer I became. And the calmer I became…
Well. I’m still here.
Choose your battles wisely; the saying goes. What do you hold onto? What are you holding on to? Anger at issues that really have no consequence for you or your way of life? Irritation with people who have never done anything to you? Even anger at people who offended you is not worth it sometimes. Bare your chest – let it go.
I still have boundless energy – the people closest to me know this. But I manage it with wisdom and stuff. I would hate to have spent all my time on worthless things – and then, something that really matters comes along but I’m too spent to do anything about it.
Kinda like relationships.
Conserve your energy. Save yourself. Find something worth dying for.
And then, live for it.
Ecclesiastes 3 starts thus:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”
After spending the past _______ years of your life imagining, fantasizing, building castles in this particular air, don’t you think it’s about time you came down? Don’t you think it’s way past time you started to face the reality staring you in the face – which is;
‘Until you work, nothing works’…?
Don’t you think it’s time you told yourself the truth; that if you don’t do it, the chances that someone else will gets slimmer by the day? The truth that you really have no reason for not pursuing that passion that keeps you awake for days, weeks, months – the passion that has everyone wondering what exactly it is you’re waiting for?
Don’t you think it’s time you put your money where your mouth is? Don’t you feel like it’s time to
I think so too.
We all are stories.
The question is – who’s telling yours?
Or better still; what is telling yours?
Is it pleasure or pain? Is tragedy or triumph? Is it loss or love? Are you down in the dumps or up in the clouds?
I’m sure we know by now; nobody can put you down if you don’t want to be put down. In the same vein, no one can lift you if you refuse to be lifted.
We all are stories. We’ve all been through one war or the other. We all are survivors, reeling and living with scars. No matter what though – we owe this world one thing;
What do you got?
One day it’ll all make sense.