2019: Coming to terms with mortality

Posted: January 8, 2019 in DAY 2 DAY
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One of the earliest recollections of my acknowledgement of mortality was my fear of ageing, which I daresay hasn’t left me till today. It has shifted, morphed, maybe even matured a little bit, but deep down I cannot but associate ageing with death, separation, loss, etc.

How did I know I was afraid? One afternoon I was playing with my mother’s hair, partly wistful because a bout of lice contracted during my second term in JSS1 meant my head had been newly shaven, and partly in awe of how long and full her hair was. And she always let me play with it, perhaps because she felt guilty they scraped my head?

Somewhere in the middle of running my fingers through her hair absent-mindedly and chatting with her, I caught, in the corner of my eye, something that wasn’t jet black. It stuck out like a sore thumb, like an ‘integrity-laden’ Bubu amidst a government overrun by corruption, ineptitude, and nepotism. It was silver, or grey, or white, but definitely not black. I was instantly terrified.

“Baby why are you sniffing,” my mom must have wondered where I caught a cold from. I was silent for all of one minute, and then I blurted out, “You have white hair; I don’t want you to get old,” started crying, and then bawled my eyes out.

It’s been more than 20 years since that incident, and while I am not as terrified of getting older (I now have a few non-black hairs myself, a couple of them situated in the weirdest of places), I occasionally wonder if we couldn’t go about this life and death business a little differently. For instance, why do people have to die at all? Why does it have to be so final, so irreversible? So unpredictable for the most part?

Michael Landon said, “Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.” Agreed, but what would it hurt if we know exactly how many more tomorrows we had? How much time we had left? Would it be too way off the mark to have something to work with beyond life expectancy figures per country?

On the 24th of November 2018, my cousin passed on after a brief illness, a few days after his 8th wedding anniversary. Another aunty passed on the 14th of December, also after being sick for a while.

On the 1st of January this year, a dear aunt passed on (what a way to start the year, I know). She was, for all intents and purposes, in perfect health. As a matter of fact, she had visited us the day before, just to say hello, visit our newborn (I’m an aunty again, yay), and just generally hang out. And the next day she was no more. Just like that. I do not believe I have processed it yet.

Each death, just as devastating and painful for the family, each coming together of the family, an opportunity to be together and strengthen each other through what has been a difficult three-month period. Each ensuing conversation, a stark reminder of our mortality, of life in all its fleeting glory, and the need to live each day as intentionally as possible.

Intentionality being the key word here.

What Happens Next?

I’ve come into the New Year fully cognisant of Leo Buscaglia’s admonition for us to know that “Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time… It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other”.

Let’s start with a big ‘I love you’ to everyone who reached out to condole with my family, the Agwuegbo’s. Thank you so much.

Here’s an even bigger ‘I love you’ to everyone who has ever read my blog, and to the ones who reached out several times last year to ask why I had stopped writing. To be honest, I can’t explain it either, but I currently feel a certain freedom in my heart that I hope translates into my muse returning and sticking around for a few articles this year.

For Ugochukwu. For Aunty Pauline. For Aunty Ije – forever in our hearts.

Comments
  1. TheRustGeek says:

    Interestingly, quite a few folk I know, myself included, have settled on intentionality as their focus for the year… Lets see how it goes.. And accept my belated condolences….

    Like

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