His body just lay there,stiff and pale as a board. I looked hard at it hoping just for a second that I’ll see his chest rise; hoping that the tickling sensation of the cotton balls in his nostrils will make him sneeze; hoping that the pain I was inflicting by pinching hard on his skin will make him wince and withdraw his hand.
I got nothing. He was still gone,cold as ice. It’s been 7 days now. Guess I’ll have to try again tomorrow.
And then I overheard them,trying to console her as she wept uncontrollably; the lady who would feel this loss the most,my older and only sister. Ever since our mum died 3 years earlier,my sister had grown so fondly attached to our dad. Our mum’s loss hit her the hardest and now this. “He’s in a better place,okay?”. “God has called home his beloved”. “Don’t cry”. I looked down from the living room upstairs where I was and I could feel the anger and frustration well up within me but I tried hard to remain calm. “Imagine him smiling now at the feet of the Lord,a good and faithful servant”. What is all these? Are these people for real? “Folashade,ye sunkun mo nau…otito“,one of the mourners said. “Pele,he’s where he belongs now”.
I rushed downstairs at this point and went straight for the remote of the home theatre system. I turned it on,scrolled down to a song and pressed play. “…We are happy people we make you happy…we are H-A-P-P-Y…“. The song by Adewale Ayuba started playing and the whole room suddenly fell silent as they all wondered what was going on. I stood there glowering at everyone in the room for the next minute and then I turned it off. “That’s what you all want na,shey?! You want us to be happy! Our father is dead but we should be happy he’s in a better place! Halleluyah! Glory to God”,I ranted sarcastically. At this point the room was so silent I could hear my rapidly beating heart. All eyes on me. Say hi to Tupac for me,Dad.
“He’s in a better place? Is that supposed to make us dance for joy? Is it a better place that will cater for the orphans he left behind?! Is it a better place that will tell us how much he loves us and how we are his joy every morning? Is it a better place that I will run to when I’m confused and need advice? What the fuck is wrong with all of you?!”. Yes,I just cursed at my elders. They all just remained motionless and transfixed at how this 15-year old boy got the nerves to do that. I didn’t believe it either but I really didn’t care. I also curse the day I was born at this point if it makes them feel better.
“Don’t tell me he’s in a better place. If it really was a better place,why are you still here??? Go and join him na!!”. I could hear my voice reverberating all over the house. My sister burst into more tears. “Don’t tell me he’s in a better place!! Where could be better for a 45 year old man than being with his young children and family?! Don’t tell me he’s where he belongs!! DON’T!!!”.
I knew they were just trying to help but they weren’t. And I had to let them know that. I didn’t realize when I fell to the ground and started weeping. I cried for the first time since his death. I guess I had finally accepted that he was gone for good. I’m so screwed.
PS: I believe the best way to comfort those who grieve isn’t to try to sweet-talk them out of it but as it says somewhere in the bible, to mourn with those who mourn. Our words can’t bring back the dead or restore what has been lost but they can indeed make things worse,even though unintentionally. Remember, the thing with pain is,it demands top be felt!