In college, we did two days on bereavement and loss in January and I’m currently reading Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ book, “Death is of vital importance.”
In the book, she speaks about unfinished business and the lessons we learn from people who are dying if only we are willing to listen.
My banene has been on my mind a lot the last few days.
I haven’t written about it before because…well, I don’t know.
My banene, who is my most favourite person in the whole world, suffered a stroke two years ago after my uncle died. She then suffered another stroke a few months later and suffered memory loss amongst other things.
Being so far away has been hard. partly because I want to be there with her and partly because the grandmother I have known all my life is no longer there.
Wen I was in Zambia in February 2013, it was because I wanted tos ee her and say goodbye.
She has told me for the last few years,
“Muuka, one day they will call you and tell you I have died. I don’t want you to be sad. I want you to remember I had a long life. a good life and I was ready to go. I don’t want you to be sad or to cry, be happy for me because I’m finally going home”
I wasn’t ready to listen to her. I didn’t think I had to.
I didn’t get her story, I didn’t write it down, or record her the way she speaks and the funny laugh she has, the way she walks or the way she looks when she’s angry because an injustice has been done. I always thought there would be time. Later, when I come back next year, when I have remembered my dictaphone, when, when when. Always later.
Last February I got an urge to fly to Zambia and I did. But my granny was already gone. She didn’t remember who I was and she didn’t remember most of her life and I was heartbroken All of a sudden, just like that, my banene was gone. yet the painful most hurtful part was that she was still here, trapped inside a foggy mind that had betrayed her.
I sat with her one afternoon in the sunshine, just sitting, hoping to make a connection, knowing I love this woman with her wrinkles and her hands that can take hot coals out of a fire, the woman who gives teh most loving hugs on the earth and had nothing to say. She didn’t even know who I was.
My heart was broken.
I was too late to tell her everything. To say my goodbye, to tell her how much she means to me.
Too late to get to hear the story of how I was, who I was the first three years of my life when she cared for me and loved me.
All I remember of that time is happiness and unconditional love. Preverbal emotions that have carried and held me through all my life. An acceptance that reminds me, regardless of all I have been through that once, there was a woman who loved me so much that i remember it in my body, without words.
On Monday I got such a strong urge to make a skype call and never mind that she wouldn’t know who I was. I wanted to tell her it’s me, Muuka – her muhyukulu, her granddaughter; that I lived with her when I was little and I love her and will miss her and I finally understand and won’t be sad.But I didn’t. And I got the urge again yesterday, such a strong urge to just see her and smile and see her smile, regardless of whether she would know me or not.
But I didn’t.
I don’t know if she’ll make it through the night today as she’s very ill and in the hospital at the moment.
Keep her in your thoughts, even for a second, for me.