People with heavy hearts gather around you, yet you cannot offer any comfort because you are struggling to hide your own grief. You advise people not to cry anymore, yet at every opportunity, you lock yourself up in the closet to cry your heart out. You can not do it in public, because you will break people you should be a tower for.
By Morak Babajide-Alabi
There is no comfort for the heart when it is broken. There is no comfort for the eyes when the tears come in torrents. And there is never a comfort for tomorrow when today looks like the end of the road. Where is the comfort when all around you there are sorrowful faces that demand answers to sad questions on their minds?
Where is the comfort when the world is upside down, and you have to pick existence out of the rubbles? Where is the comfort when at every step you take it feels as if you are treading on your own heart and the pain is unbearable? How do you seek comfort when the heart is “knocking” wildly and threatening to burst out?
Yet you cannot give up. In this state, there are people who are clinging on to you for direction, for new beginning and purpose. You are as lost and directionless as anyone could get. The pain becomes unbearable when you are asked the way forward when all you want to do is walk back into the past. Sadness overwhelms you, but you cannot say this. You are clueless, yet you have to pretend you are in control. It is hard!
This is life! It is a misery which no one has been able to explain. This past week I asked many questions in my bid to understand life’s mysteries. All to no avail. I gave up because I realised that no matter how hard the wisest of human beings try, no one can crack it. You may think you understand it right now but turn around in a second and you will be confused what it is all about. The mysteries belong to God, the Almighty.
In my reflection, I realise that in life, one minute your laughter might be the loudest in a hall, and in a twinkle of an eye your pain may become the “deepest”. Sometimes it takes just a phone call, or the door to open inwards and life brings a new meaning. Who can explain this?
For me, for us, the laughter boomed and boomed, the hearts were merry, songs of joy, until that moment when all changed. It was a dream that we prayed we should wake up from on time. So as we rang each other up, there was a consensus that we were networking in our various dreams and when we wake up we would all heave sighs of relief and pick up the laughter where we left off.
Dreams do become reality. While reality also sometimes sends us into trances. In the end, all we would say is “it has happened, we just have to move on with it”. But it is easier said than done.
Last week was the longest of my life. It was the most tortuous week of my adult existence and definitely will take a while for the inflicted wound to heal. The week typified the scenario I painted above, from the highest height of joy to the lowest depth of pain and sadness.
Ironically today is my birthday, incidentally, a week after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a week I had to repeatedly say the words – “we lost him” – to closest relations, while to some I could not even bear the courage to say anything. I had to let the sobs and tears convey the message.
How do you explain the mystery? I lost Yemmy a few months to his 50th birthday. It sounds so unreal. Is this how death play the game? Dirty! A man full of life, hopes, plans and dreams and had to go just like that. Death is indeed shameless. If it is not, why will it take Yemmy when all he wanted to do was go and visit his family in Abuja? He loved his wife, his children and anyone that ever came in contact with him will testify of his large heart.
Death, where is thy sting? You waited for Yemmy where we least expected. He walked into Heathrow Airport, checked in his luggage, got his boarding passes, and with a smile waved goodbye to his good friend, Simon, who had accompanied him to the airport, as he walked through the security barrier. Yemmy was a few metres from boarding his flight to see his family before he slumped and was rushed to the Harefield Hospital where he passed on a day after.
When we said goodbye a few days ago, it was not to be last. When we hugged as he set out for London the thought that it could be the last never crossed my mind. I would have held tightly to him, and pushed my heart into his. As we chatted on the way to the airport on this fateful day, if I had an inkling, I would have told him how much fun he brought into my life these past three months. But he never gave any clue that he was nearing the end of his journey.
As I spent some time with him at the Chapel of Rest, Harefield Hospital, a while after passing on, he looked so peaceful like someone at sleep. This was my first reality of death. I was lost for words as I starred through teary eyes at a brother I admired so much. Yemmy was gone. His lips were curled as if to say: “Jide, it’s okay. Stop crying, I have done my bit. Be strong for Bukky, the children and everybody.”
Be strong! The words of God hit me like fresh air as I walked into the outer room where the nurse was waiting for me. Revelations 4:11 – “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created.” And I knew Yemmy had gone to a better place.
This is not a tribute. I will write one later. But I must say Yemmy was a gentleman, good husband, father, friend, brother, colleague, etc anyone could have wished for. He was above all, a Christian. His kindness will live forever in the hearts of all he came in contact with. He loved life and he made it a duty to put smiles on people’s faces. With Yemmy, there was never a downtime. His laughter was infectious as it always came from his heart, and with him, you knew where you stood.
Yemmy was a pioneer, a brilliant individual who excelled in all he laid his hands on. He was a First Class graduate of Surveying and Geomatics from the University of Lagos and a British Chevening Scholar of the University of Edinburgh with distinction in Masters in Geographical Information Sciences. He consulted for many UK local councils and shared his expertise with many individuals and businesses. Perhaps he knew his time was short that was why he did all these fast.
It is still incomprehensible but we have accepted the sovereignty of God. I am so happy you chose to spend your last three months on earth with me and my family. We miss you. Your nephews and niece still knock on the door to your room, as a habit, before they leave for college. It will take a long while for us to adjust.
Good night, Yemmy, my blood, my brother.
As written for the column, Diaspora Matter, Sunday Vanguard, April 8, 2018.