My Experiences With Normal Faces Around Death

Looking back now, it seems very wierd to have had a Muslim classmate in a Catholic Primary school. Not only was Fatima my classmate, she was also my seat mate (For those of you that went to posh schools it means we shared the same bench together in class). One day in primary six, she didn’t come to class which was very wierd because for some strange reason in my primary school, everyone came to class everyday. When people missed class they had either travelled or didn’t feel like coming to school on their birthdays. When Fatima did resume a week later, she told me she had lost her mum. I was surprised because this was the second time in my life that someone had lost a family member, the first being my grand father and my mum was distraught for weeks. Fatima wasn’t, at least not was far as my 11 year old brain could tell. Although I could tell something was off but it wasn’t the kind of cataclysmic breakdown I thought ought to happen. She was almost perfectly fine. 
Six years later, I walked into the vice principals office and saw the sister of someone in my set weeping. She was going through tissues faster than they could find them, I was told her Dad had died. I never saw or at the very least heard her brother had an emotional breakdown. He went home and came back a few weeks later looking better than those of us that had been in the spiritual prison that was my secondary school. 
That same year, another girl in my set lost her dad. Teachers started suggesting the whole set should pray and for good reason because people were loosing their parents around the time of  final exams. That was the first time I had prolonged mental conversations on what my life would be like if I lost a parent. When the girl came back she appeared normal, everybody treated her like glass although she wanted to have non of it. She wanted to just pick up life where she left it. 
Two years later, a very good friend lost her dad. I tried getting in touch with her but she was understandably unavailable. When I did get in touch with her, I didn’t even know what to say. About two weeks later, a few days to my birthday my mum got a call around 11pm that my Dad had died. She nearly ran mad. I actually thought she had run mad.
I remember that night like it was yesterday not just because my dad died but because it was really late (for me 10pm is late), there was a lot of crying, teary eyes and loud silence but most importantly because I really just wanted to sleep. I wasn’t feeling the all the emotions and pain that I had thought I would feel and it started disturbing me so after an hour and so I called my best friends to tell them. I hoped to see whether admitting it out loud would trigger some sort of reaction. Nothing happened. The next morning I woke up to see a lot of messages from friends and loved ones (don’t you just love how bad news travels), and I was more concerned with how I was going to reply all those messages than the fact that my dad had just died. 
At the point of his death I was the only one he was in talking terms with after after falling out with my sister for calling him out on his “bad behavior” and his marriage with my mum hitting the rocks so I was pretty sure I loved the man at least in my head I was. 
At the burial, I wanted the pastor to talk faster because I wanted to leave the village immediately. I was preoccupied with all the people touching me and wishing me well hoping no one would not use some kind of juju on me (needless to say I practically used anointing oil, drank Holy communion and prayed all the divine security prayers I could). One particular woman was trying so hard to console me (although I clearly looked like I didn’t need it) that she spoke for nearly an hour,before some cousins asked her to leave. The whole time I was trying really hard not to tell her to shut up. 
 A few weeks later I was back in school having only cried once for about 20 minutes since the whole incident and getting a psych eval from my friend who had gone through a whole lot worse and initially reacted similarly to me before having a near nervous breakdown. I began to realize how I looked like all those friends through the years who looked normal after such tragedies. 
Two years on since then, I now or at least I’m still trying to understand how they felt, how I felt about having straight faces in the midst of all the storm. Maybe it was the only way to get through  it by denying the reality and eventually choosing to bury it, only digging it up and clutching it to our chests when we were alone. I really don’t know. 
But to anyone going through what I went through, I want to tell you never really get over it. You may swim under, jump over, swerve around but it’s still there. I can however tell you that you will function despite it even though It will be hard as hell. 

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5 thoughts on “My Experiences With Normal Faces Around Death”

  1. You are not just a writer but and artist cas you paint your story so well for people to connect, feel and visualize every word… This is a good work, true and deep story portrayed so well..

    Like

  2. this is very true and its a good write up
    i remember telling one of my friends who lost her dad that it was ok to cry. i think we all have different ways of expressing our pain

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  3. I think that its a common thing in our society. No one wants to be the debbie downer in class who is crying bcos a parent died. The thing is you may just not feel the death till you start missing the little things the person used to do. And mourning is a pretty private thing. WE are after all masters at pretense.
    Beautiful write up.

    Liked by 1 person

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