I turn the floppy disk in my hand and stare at the inscription; ‘Baby Shower 09:11:04’.
Wow. I set aside the box I picked it up from, sit behind my desk and hold up the diskette, staring at it as though I can see the contents. Superman’s X-Ray vision or something.
Yeah. The ghosts get bad around this time of the year.
Dust hovers in the air for some seconds as I send them from their abode with a puff of air. I’m sure I have the files on this disc backed up somewhere but I cherish things like this because of the memories they hold. Not the pictures.
This disk represents a moment in time. A snapshot of my life – of life; as it was at a particular time.
I wonder if the baby whose pictures are in here knows what a floppy disk is.
A smile adorns my mustached lips as I see her there; eyebrows wrinkled in concentration trying to answer the question I just placed before her young intellect. After some minutes of raking through files and files of memory data, she’ll look up at me with a disgruntled look and say accusingly; ‘daddy, you haven’t taught me that!’
A burst of laughter turns into a sob as I cover my mouth in horror. What am I doing?
It is the retort that came into my head in response to her response that has me crying.
“Daddy, you haven’t taught me that!”
I would have chuckled and said ‘What have I been teaching you then?”
What have I been teaching her indeed?
That love is a myth? Or that men usually don’t know what they want till it’s gone – and then they spend the rest of their lives chasing shadows because they let go of substance in a moment of weakness? That fear is more powerful than love – and that it makes no sense loving someone because no one is good enough to fight for?
I’m a thirty-something year senior executive in one company like that – yet I cannot stop the water faucet that suddenly opens behind my eyes. I imagine I look like one of those burst Water Corporation pipes, water leaking all over the place. I laugh at my own joke and the tears stop.
I wish my mother was still around. I see her look at me, shake her head and say ‘darling, what do you call someone who knows what’s best for everyone except himself?’
My voice echoes in the dark room as I audibly answer a question asked in my head. ‘A hypocrite?’
I hear my mum’s chuckle loud and right in my heart. ‘Lonely and confused.’
I remember Ibi telling me a while ago; “I can’t stay here and watch you kill yourself. You’re going to drag me along with you – and I…we have a child to care for.”
Now it’s done. Everything – she’s gone.
Or is she?
That’s my daughter talking. We spend time – more time than ever these days, but I avoid her eyes every time I say goodbye. Because I know what waits in them. I know what she wants to see happen – and I’m not sure it’s the best thing for all concerned.
Have I learnt anything new? Am…I…learning?
“I don’t know what to do…” Steam dissipates in the cold air as I stare at the ceiling in frustration.
Mother lowers her glasses and looks at me with a smile. ‘Oh yes son, but you do.”
I shake my head as though that would make her go away. “But…but mum, I’m so scared.”
“But you’ll know. You’ll know – and then maybe you’ll finally have some peace.”
Peace. Where did that go?
I pick up my phone and though it is 1:17 on a Monday morning, I call my ex-wife.
The last time I heard my mum’s voice was over the phone. The last words she said were ‘pray for me’.
I didn’t. Not really.
The one thing that keeps haunting me – tormenting me; so to speak, is the thought that I said I was going to take her to see a movie at the cinemas. I said I would make time out of my busy schedule – and I would take her to see a movie of her choice.
I never did. There wasn’t ‘time’.
Maybe taking her there would have helped her stay around longer. Maybe not. Maybe it would have made NO difference whatsoever to her living or lack of it, but I would have had at least one more memory to cherish – one more smile to think about and be happy when I think about her not being here. I wish, with all of me, with all of my heart that she stayed a bit more so I could enjoy having a mother for a while longer.
No such luck. She left without warning.
It’s been a while – a year actually, and it feels like I never had a mother. It feels like it’s been forever.
To be honest, I have had to do a lot of growing in the past year – learn stuff I’ve always taken for granted just because I someone who covered my behind for the most of it. And as I go through the lessons and motions, I learn more about myself and the bigger picture called life, I’ve had a better understanding of where I fit in and what I owe. And I realize – while I might have lost my best friend – while death might have taken something from me, God replaced it with life.
I’m at peace with it. I’m grateful for the opportunity, to be born of the woman who birthed me. I learnt so much from her, and even now I’m still learning. I see a lot of things clearer now, I understand that life is too short to bear grudges, I understand to make memories with people I care about because ‘bleak’ as this sounds I WON’T always have them with me.
They say ‘life is hard’. I ask, ‘how did you know? With what standard did you measure it? Who told you’?
Let the people you love know you love them. Don’t say ‘I don’t have time’. Make the time. We all have 24 hours, yet The Wright Brothers built a plane.
Spend time with special people, smile while you can. No matter how that relationship plays out, make sure you have more to smile about than to cry about.
And most of all, thank God for those special people. You won’t always have them with you. Not physically anyways.
Rest In Peace, Momma. I am making you proud.