My Mother is Gone but Not From My Heart

I’ve lost my mum. Now I know what a loss truly feels like. Let me assure you that I’m no stranger to the unfettered cruelty that death deals. I’ve lost family members. I lost my half sister (who left behind about 5 kids) a few years back. Without a doubt, I felt a pang of pain. But when my dad called me in the wee hours on April 27, 2020, I knew before he even uttered a word. Sorrow shrouded his breath. I felt sick to my stomach.

“Ayo, I lost your mother this morning.”

I gotta tell you this: I’m an emotional guy. Although I hardly show it. You can only catch a glimpse of that side of me when you know me well enough. I’m emotional but (un)fortunately for me, I don’t know grief. Death doesn’t faze me. When people die, I don’t feel anything. I just go about my business and make sure to keep a gloomy face so I’m not tagged a psychopath. This wasn’t the case when I heard about my mother’s death. I cried into my sheets. My mother is no more.

Is this a eulogy? There’s only one way to find out.

I’m not proud (or embarrassed, as a matter of fact) to say that I didn’t have the best relationship with my mother before her demise. I would, however, be telling you a lie if I said we didn’t love each other. My mother loved her children so much that it hurt her. She sacrificed everything for us. We had our differences but she never hesitated to provide support in my time of need.

I don’t talk a lot about my mother. I don’t talk a lot about a lot of things. What I find comical is that I have a lot of memories about her. We went on a lot of road trips together, especially to Ibadan where her parents were based. Before my immediate younger sister was born, I was an only child to my parents. She would take me to this eatery (Chiquita) and spoil me reckless. Then we would hop in the bus, my belly rotund. On my lucky days I’d leave Chiquita with ice-cream in my hand, wading through the throng of people on our way home while holding on desperately to my ice-cream. My mother is gone but those memories will forever stay.

Naturally, my mum was super protective of me because I was the only child. She was quite cynical in nature so she would always insist that I remain watchful of the kind of company I kept. As a child with a lot of curiosity bubbling inside of me, I couldn’t help but be defiant. This followed me into adulthood and I became tougher to deal with. That’s where most of our disagreements came from. I’ll term it disagreement because I’ll rather eat an octopus alive than admit that I got a lot of whopping. Oops.

Another thing I remember about my mother is that she was obstinate. Whenever she set her mind to do something, she always got it done. That complemented her hardworking nature. As a child, I watched my mother go from selling kerosene, soft drinks, sachet water to owning a shop in a rowdy market where she dealt in retail of salt, sugar, cooking oils, and other essential cooking related stuff. She was an adept businesswoman. She would take me to the market, show me different sections and how they operated. It was only fun for a short while because I had to step up and be useful. I was kinda averse to that. Well, you know there’s only one way that could have ended.

I love my mother. I wish I said that more often when she was alive. She had her imperfections but she overcompensated with so many things. I wish I could turn back the hands of time. It saddens me greatly that I’ll never see her again. I somehow managed to ignore that fact all the while she was here with us. And she did warn me that we (her children) could lose her anytime. I always waved that thought because I believed I would be rich enough to buy her whatever she wanted before anything devastating happened. I’m sorry mum, I wish I knew better.

But today, I saw my mother wrapped in white clothes. She was laid on the ground and she was as still as a log of wood. Lifeless. Breathless. I saw my mother being carried into a grave that had been dug for her. Death showed me his hand. He meant business. I saw my mother being buried as the men heaped sand on her body. I hoped it was a dream. I hoped she would rise from the grave and it would have all been a mistake. Stream of tears rolled down my cheeks. I cried internally and externally. Olubunmi Funmilayo Oladayo Olaniyan, you are gone but you’re not forgotten.

untethered. let the wings of freedom take me to an unknown destination faraway from here.