The Waiting. For Ron.

I met traumatic death young. 15 to be exact.

On a rather lovely Friday 1 June 1990, I came home from babysitting the neighbours kids at around 00h15. I went into my parents room where they were watching some late night television, said my hellos and goodnight, closed their door and went to my room to prepare for bed / sleep / oblivion. It never came.

We had just moved to CT from JHB. Both of my older siblings had already moved out and moved on. My brother already married. My sister an independent woman.

The screaming started almost immediately. My mother. The worst noise I have ever heard, to this day.

It seemed to last an eternity. I will never forget that sound. Or what I saw when I opened my parents door again. My mother had managed to get my dad off the bed and onto the floor. And, in her own mad way, was desperately … oh so very desperately, trying to get my dad breathing again.

I didn’t even have half a clue what to do. So I did the only thing I could think of. I ran out to the neighbour’s house. I remember being hysterical. I remember being frantic. I don’t really remember words. Or banging on doors. Or making sense. I remember hysteria, and then the neighbour Shawn was there.

I remember screaming. And begging.

I remember Shawn trying and knowing. Deep down. I knew too. It was too catastrophic. Too fast. Too big. My dad’s heart – it just died.

So much screaming. I remember Shawn grabbing my mother and pulling. I remember my sister, Norine, suddenly being there, when she wasn’t before. I remember our house doctor, Dr. Perold arriving. The ambulance. I don’t know how all of that knew to happen. Or why it happened. Or who facilitated it all. It just was.

I remember Norine holding my hand and we got into the ambulance.

My dad was a big man. In stature and personality. I think. I don’t really remember anymore. I remember his laugh was big. It is one of the only things I do remember.

He looked like he was asleep. I hope that is how he looked. It is what I chose anyway.

One minute he was there. And then he was not.

Because his heart broke.

And the world shattered into shards that never really got put back together again.

My dad was just shy of 50.

Now. So very many years later. I have friends whose parents are starting to pass. Their experience not quite the same as mine. To be honest, I get a bit jealous of the time they had together. The relationships and shared memories that time affords people.

On the other hand – I didn’t have to watch my dad get old, or frail, or sick really. My memory of him, from the point of view of a child, is of a strong man struck down in his prime.

Death sucks. The actual act of it. Whether it is drawn out and wasting and traumatic, or quick and nasty and unexpected and traumatic. It is mean and cruel and oh so very human.

The passing on though. The moving through the veil to the God you believe in.

That is Grace. I believe that with every fiber of my utmost being.

It is a moment when your soul, that fundamental part of you that is you, is free again. Young again. Whole again. Loving and beloved.

And that is where you stay. Where you wait. In Light and Peace.

Just out of sight. Just around the corner.

Just for a moment.

Till the time is right.

My dearest Ronnage. Just, just out of sight.

Whole.

Waiting.

Life and loss

They say it gets easier with time. It really doesn’t. You just learn to live with it. You make a little space in your soul for the loss. The missing. The profound ache.

You make a little space in your head for the memories. The sound of them. The smell of them. And you visit it, sometimes.

You fill up the void they leave behind with life and noise and tears and people. But it never moulds completely to the void.

Blommie. Life is too short. I am so very sorry your mommy had to suffer. But she is with her God now. In His hands, healed and whole.

Blommie. Life is too short. Hold onto what is left behind with everything you have.

Make your space. In your head and in your soul. Your mommy will always live there.

I carry you up to my God every day. You and yours.

Your mommy lives on in the spaces left behind.

For Blommie.

Like a ton of bricks.

Like the world ending.

Like the whisper of death in a war.

Like the sound of nails running across chalkboard, never ending.

Like the whisper of desolation across your soul.

I’m sorry, your mother is terminal.

No one can truly know when their time is up. When that moment comes, either fast or slow, and your maker holds His hand out.

No one can truly know what the leaving, leaves behind. What the leaving will mean. What the leaving will take with it.

No one can truly know, how tired the leaving can make you.

To be left behind. Or to watch the moment of leaving coming ever closer.

Your mother is terminal.

Those 4 words. Like death to every hope you had. Every moment of future you thought you dreamed, with another.

Your mother is terminal.

I am so sorry, my blommie. My dear, precious, glorious friend. I wish I could make it hurt less. Make it more bearable. Make it go away.

I wish I could heal. Or say that right words. I wish I could stand by you, and love you just a little bit more. So that my love can balance the leaving. So that it doesn’t hurt so very much.

I am so sorry that your mommy is leaving.

I cannot fathom it. I cannot really even describe it.

I will not show this to you. Not now. Perhaps not ever.

But I wanted to write it. Because I remember the leaving of my father. And how much it bothered me that no one really knew what to say.

I know now, that it didn’t matter what they said. It would never ever be the right thing. It never can be.

Because the leaving is all there is.

It is consuming.

Be strong, my blommie. Be brave. Be consoled, just a little bit.

I love you. You are in my thoughts. You are in my prayers.

You, your family and your mommy.

Her life will not be forgotten.

Her soul will shine bright.

Her memory will stay with you.

Her life will be celebrated.

Her God will welcome her Home.

And she will wait for you. Just out of earshot. Just out of sight. Just around the corner. Just there.

She waits for you.

With Grace.

 

I will wait.

I am not quite sure why, but today I thought about death. About suddenly passing on, with no goodbyes. No final curtains. No warning.

I thought about what would be left. What is still unsaid. What will maybe never be said. I wondered if people would say good things about me? Or if it would barely register?

I thought about the things I love. And the things that love me.

The things that I carry. And the things that carry me.

And I thought I would write this. So that it is forever. It is not meant to be a eulogy. Maybe one day. But not right at this moment.

To anyone that reads this. To whoever needs this. To whoever.

Please take care of the things I love. The places and people that have been important. Love the creatures that have kept me warm. The beings that comfort and give me life.

Please care for the things I leave behind. The little things, that matter to no one but me. The shared moments that form over a lifetime.

Please be kind to yourself. In the going about of your life. I have been so hard on who I am, that sometimes I have forgotten to be who I am. Never make that mistake.

Please believe that you are stronger than you thought. No one survives this world with their perfection intact. That does not make you any less perfect.

Please believe that someone, somewhere, loves you. Here or not. Aware or not. Alive or not. Someone, something loves you. Gives you Grace. Hopes for your Grace.

Please remember to breathe. And enjoy the things that really matter. For too long, I missed the little things. The fluffy things. The hopeful things. The pure joy of the breath. Don’t let a moment pass without finding a joy in those little things. In the breath of life. The breath of a friend. The breath of hope.

I have always loved you.

If you ever doubted it, I miss you.

If you ever thought you needed it, I forgive you.

I hope you forgive me.

Please believe that I wait. We all do. When that time comes.

I will wait. For all the things that I love. And all the things that I have ever loved.

I will wait.

Me

Hello.
You don’t know me. Not yet anyway. I am you, 27 years on.

You turned 40 the other day. It came and it went much like any other day. There was some celebration, there was some sadness. But it passed. Much like any other day.

You worry so much about not fitting in. About not having friends. About what people think of you. About whether your mom and your dad value you. About whether your brother and your sister love you.

Stop worrying. All those nights of tears and fretting get you absolutely nowhere. Not one bit of the energy you expended ever changed anything anyone ever thought of you, did for you or meant to you.

Stop worrying Jessie. You will be ok.

I have to tell you that your dad dies soon. A massive heart attack. Norine comes, and Stephen eventually. And then they leave and it is just you and mom.

In time, you forget what he looked like. You forget what he sounded like. You forget who he was. Because you barely knew him. All that becomes important is whether or not he was or is proud of you. And it doesn’t matter one way or the other. The only person who has to be proud of you, is you. Learn this now. Learn it well. Because you will fight this demon all your life. And it will win. Every time someone doesn’t measure up to the ideals you have set for them. Every time someone leaves. Every time someone disappoints you. Somehow, you manage to turn it into something you did wrong.

Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t take other people’s shit on as your own. And try to remember your dad as best you can, for as long as you can. Because you will miss who you think he was, who you hoped he was, who you believed him to be every day for the rest of your life.

Over time, your mother develops an unhealthy attachment to you. Your nature, and her nature, clash and crash and nothing good comes of it. It will shape you and affect you in ways that no one will ever understand. Don’t let it. So much of the heartbreak you face, comes from this one simple fact. Your mother, however unintentionally, will mould you into a soul that is very damaged. Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t let another person’s weakness become your own. But remember always, she did her best. It may not have been good enough for you, but it was her best. Don’t turn away from her. Love her as best you can. Because she is your mom. And one day, she will be all the family you have close to you.

When you get a bit older you are going to fuck up monumentally. You will think your life has ended. You will think you will never recover. You will believe that you are done. Don’t. Stop. It makes you strong in ways that no other person will ever be strong. Although the fear of it will haunt you forever. You will recover. You will get better. You will be okay. I promise. Just keep breathing. One breath at a time. This one moment does not define who you are. You fucked up. You are not a fuck up.

Even older still and you will get sick. Some weird mystery illness that they still argue about. Stop. Don’t let any doctor who you think knows better, tell you who you are. Don’t let them pump you full of the meds that will balloon you to 170kg’s. Don’t let them. Question everything. Make sure it makes sense.

Older still, and you will realise that you are ok alone. But that being alone all the time is hard. It is hard to never have anyone to rely on. It is hard to do everything alone. But you will find a few souls that hang out in the periphery of a life. Always there. They love you. Find them. Keep them close. You will need them.

One day, you will realise that your family is made up of so many animals. People will laugh at you when you call a dog your closest. Don’t care what they say. Every single life in this life, is worth love. Love them completely. Time will come when they will become your reason for waking. Your reason for going home. Your reason to be.

So much doom and gloom. So much to face in a short life.

And I haven’t even really started.

So let me tell you this.

You are beautiful Jessie. You are compassionate and kind and generous and smart and funny. You are loyal and true.

You are beautiful.

I am proud of you.

Every little bit of you.

Every big bit of you.

Every broken bit of you.

Every whole bit of you.

Learn your lesson Jessie. You matter to the only person that matters.

Yourself.

You are exactly who you are meant to be.

And you are awesome.

Bloodlust

This man had a mother. A father. He was perhaps a brother, a friend, a lover. This man had a purpose. He had a dream. He had a life. He had laughter and love and hope waiting for him.

Capture

Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole died because he was Mozambican. He died because of a bloodlust that is festering in my immoral and amoral society. In my country that I love.

My country that is at war with itself. With its compass. With its conscience.

He died senselessly and stupidly and I have cried for him.

Because he is me. And I am him. And he had as much right to be as I do. As any of us do.

I have dreams and a life and laughter and love and hope waiting for me.

I am African. But more than that. I am Human.

In a place that has lost its humanity.

RIP Emmanuel.

I am so very sorry my people killed you. You deserved more. Better. Peace.

I am so sorry.

 

Photograph by James Oatway.

Strain

I am having a hard time today. Stress I guess. And mourning.

The darkest things keep occurring to me.

What would happen to my animals if I die?

Letting go of my animals if I knew I was to die?

Never being missed.

How it would be when my mother dies?

If I would be completely alone when my sister dies?

Whether my dad is in heaven waiting?

Does he remember me?

The darkest things lie heavy on me today. And try as I might, I can’t shake them.

That feeling of being always on the verge of crying hysterically.

That feeling of hopeless helplessness.

Doesn’t matter that you know you are being silly or overly emotional. Doesn’t matter that you can reason the situation or stress away. The dark heaviness stays.

It has made me so tired.