The Betrayals And Funerals
I found myself staring at the knife again. It shone to the extent that I could see my reflection in it; only it wasn’t my reflection I saw but hers.
The tears came again.
Everything reminded me of her.
Everywhere I looked, I saw her.
Her cute smile and her shiny little teeth…
Her eyes that twinkled like stars.
Her contagious personality
Every child I saw made me think of the one I had lost.
Sometimes, I got home expecting to see her in our bed; using my make-up as usual, or cradled in the hands of her father. Each time I had to remind myself that she was gone forever.
And the pain never lessened. I could hardly be around kids now. In fact, I had become a recluse; a shadow of my fvormer self.
My home was empty. She was gone. And so was he.
I needed Mo now more than ever, but I had pushed him away.
Mo; my husband…the only one who truly understood the pain I was going through. The only one I wanted to be with right now, but couldn’t.
I was bitter.
I needed comfort. Shirley had died exactly seven weeks ago; we had buried her a week later. I could barely recall what had gone on during the funeral because I had been high on amphetamines.
Yes, there had been friends, family and well-wishers. All of them spitting their jargon about God giving and taking…none of them understood what real pain was. Shirley had been just seven years, an active and beautiful child, why would God take her away from me…from us?
Within the first few days of losing Shirley, I sat and stared in space. I ignored my husband, friends and everything around me. I could sit and stare for hours at a stretch, our home became a refuse dump and I hardly ate, bathed or even spoke.
She had been my only child, the next best thing in my life. She gave me joy. I had given up my career for her and had never regretted it one day.
What was life going to be like without her, brightening our home with giggling and laughter?
Mo had moved out a week ago at my request. I still don’t know why I did that but I had. I can recall vividly how our conversation went:
“Why are you doing this, Kemi?” He had asked. It was one of those days I woke up after dreaming of Shirley. It was past noon; I hadn’t had breakfast or had my bath.
“You want to die with her?” he continued.
I looked at him warily; “That’s not such a bad idea.”
“Then what happens to the rest of us that love you?”
“You weren’t there when we needed you. Why are you here now?” I spat at him with venom.
I watched him bow his head and I immediately regretted what I had said. He had been working and couldn’t make it in time to say good-bye to her.
“I’m sorry.” I said softly.
He looked up at me. There were tears in his eyes.
“You want to hurt me, don’t you?” He asked. “You think I don’t miss her?”
“I’m sorry.” I whispered again. I wanted to go to him but I couldn’t. I hadn’t saved myself yet, how could I save him?
My heart broke as I saw the tears pouring down his face. I knew there was no man that loved his daughter better than my husband did. Shirley had been Daddy’s girl.
“I can’t do this.” His body racked with sobs.
I didn’t understand him.
“You can’t forgive me because I wasn’t there for her.” It was a statement.
I didn’t reply. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t because I had woken up crying so I was out of tears for the day.
“What do you want me to do?” He asked.
The answer came without effort. “Leave.” I said.
He stared at me. “I need you now more than ever, Kems. We need to stay together.”
“I’m only going to keep hurting you.” I said. “I need to grieve alone for now.”
“Or you need to decide whether or not to join Shirley.” He said.
I shrugged. “Maybe.”
“I won’t leave you alone. You’re not safe.”
My caring husband.
“I’ll be fine.” I said.
“No. If I leave, I?’ll ask my mum to come and stay with you.”
I shook my head.
The thought of my mother-in-law coming to stay with me would drive me to suicide quicker than before.
So, that was a week ago. Mo left with a few of his belongings but made sure to ask Cordelia my best friend to check up on me every day.
Here I am, staring at a knife on the kitchen sink, missing my family so acutely that I’m considering suicide.
I reach for the knife and then I hear it…
“Mummy…” Shirley’s voice was distinct and clear.
I spun round, expecting to see my daughter smiling up at me. I saw nothing. There was no one in the house but me.
Was I hallucinating? I turned my attention back to the attractive knife. What exactly did I intend to do? I asked myself.
Tentatively, I picked up the knife
and examined it; strangely enough I enjoyed its feel on my skin.
“Mummy. I love you.” A sing-song voice.
I dropped the knife without thinking and it clattered to the tiled floor.
This time I was sure of what I heard. It was Shirley’s voice- my baby’s voice.
“Shirley.” I called out. “Are you there?”
I was alone.
“Don’t do this to me, please.” I pleaded with the empty house.
It was then I realised I was shaking. My feet could hold me no longer and I crumpled to the floor.
“Why baby, why?” I sobbed uncontrollably. “Why did you have to take her, God?”
A vision of my seven year old daughter flashed before my eyes…
Only recently had she celebrated her seventh birthday…she’d wanted a party but Mo and I had promised her one for her next birthday.
“Not this time, sweetie.” I told her.
“Aww…” Her face took on this puppy-look she used whenever she wanted to get something from either of us. “Pretty pretty please, Mummy.”
God! She was so adorable. I was almost tempted to give in to her.
“How about we ask your daddy what he has planned for your birthday when he gets back from work today?” I said instead, pulling her close to me.
Her face lit up with a smile. “Can I go to the carnival…at least?”
I remember thinking…how did I give birth to such a smart little girl?
I tweaked her nose. “You drive a hard bargain, young lady.”
“That’s why you love me, Mummy.” She had replied.
And indeed did I love her. So much.
She didn’t get the birthday party but Mo and I spent the day with her; we went sight-seeing, we got her gifts and hid it in different parts of the house for her to find.
As these images flashed through my mind, the tears came in torrents. Was she really gone? Was my pretty little angel, my pride and joy never going to kiss my cheeks again and tell me she loves me?
“Just a few more years with her, Lord. That’s all I wanted.” I said through my tears. “Why take her away from me now?”
A hit-and-run. They’d said.
The driver was never found. The cops’ attempt and finding the car had proved abortive. The car had been found abandoned in the park two weeks later. No traces or clues left.
An accident? Inconclusive. The police had said.
Why wouldn’t it be an accident? I often asked myself. Who would want to kill my daughter? Who would be that cruel?
The answers didn’t come.
The worst part of it all was that I had no one to blame. I had no one to be angry at. It wasn’t Mo’s fault or the doctors who couldn’t save her.
There was only one person I could question; one person who’d had ultimate control over her life; one person I’d thought I had a fairly good relationship with; one person whom I now distrusted the most. God.
Why had He allowed it happen?
Over the years, I had been a fairly good Christian; at least better than some people I knew. I couldn’t boast that my Christian life was the best…but it wasn’t that bad.
I was known in church and I tried to do the right thing always. So what had gone wrong?
Still no answers.
“I had fun at school today, Mummy. Daddy bought me ice-cream when he came to pick me up.” It was Shirley again.
As much as I was grateful to hear her voice, it was tormenting me.
“Stop it, please.” I cried. I lay on the floor shaking, the knife only a few metres away from me.
Suddenly my vision began to blur. I felt like I was drowning. There was water everywhere. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t. I let the water take me.
The last thing I heard before I passed out was the phone ringing.