Friday 4th September 2015, 08:30 pm. She shuddered and expired. Heaven could not wait.
My eyelids turned lead heavy, my heart painstakingly hollow and my blood felt like acid. My grandmother was gone.
She had certainly been at death’s door for some months but I was not ready for that moment. Nobody is ever ready for mortality.
You see my Dana was larger than life. She was my first country. She was beyond love. She was ahead of her time yet still on time. She had a demure demeanour that easily lit up a room. She was always wreathed in smiles. She had the most beautiful wrinkles when she smiled, as if her face was the map of her life; her whole face radiated beams of light at just one grin! She was beauty and everything that pertains to it.
Laced with self-consciousness, intuition, veracity, willpower, tenacity, grit and LOVE. A senior citizen and your typical African (great)grand(mother), and as such, had some of the obligatory traits — spontaneous deafness, an unerring ability to stand right in the way and a bat-like sonar system that allows her to shout your name at the top of her lungs when you left one dish undone but stand ten toes down when she herself did that. She was an absolute sweetheart in the grand scheme of things though.
This lady binged on love and affection. Authentic love and affection. A birth giver to stars. A magic maker. She had children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who would keep her on her toes; a wild ride to places she’d only see on telly. But I saw something striking in her liquid eyes, something that guided me from the moment I met her — her unflappable philosophy that whatever came her way she’d manage. And because she’d manage, we would, too.
Her relationship with God was a very skyward and personal one. She regarded Him as a friend. My own journey has been perhaps convoluted, my image of Divinity has somewhat shifted from that childhood vision (I believe due to my struggle with mood disorder), but the simplicity of those prayers remain! And so does something she told me when I asked her where God lived. She smiled at me very broadly and replied with a laid-back tone but somewhat cogent force, “In your heart.”
In her demise, I learnt that when the sled of death launches on you, when you watch the casket close on your loved one, it somersaults your mind forever. It brashly disrupts your mental, emotional and physical equilibrium. It brazenly reminds you of the frailty and fickleness of existence. Realisation dawns on you how terrible it is to love something that death can touch. I still hear the sound of her laughter under the starry sky in the middle of June, I still see her snow white teeth and her beautiful wrinkly cheeks traced with tiny spider veins, I still find bits and pieces of her in my musings and I still hold random conversations with her in my head 4 years after her passing, religiously. I still reminisce on everything.
I have learnt that there is no sanctuary for death; no respite, no silk cocoon you can wrap yourself to avoid it. Death is life and life is death and therein lies the metamorphoses, for both change and death are inevitable. Death can come fragrant as a dozen roses tied in silk ribbon, or it can slither in on the belly of a snake waiting for the right moment to strike or it can wrap itself around, throttling your breath from you. Death is the cold cup of coffee you never finish as you write your last words.
I think what puts us on edge regarding death no matter how familiar we think we have become, is its finality, surreal because there is no grand finale, no crescendo that can lead up to the moment.
Death will die too, one sweet day.
So dear Dana, I know I walked into your sendoff significantly mortified and soul-sick and a complete cesspool of mental illness, but today, 1460 days on, as I type this, I’d like you to know that I’m consciously blooming into an orchard of sunsets. Not because it got better but because I got stronger. Because I’m a budding wolverine, by virtue of you having been a veteran wolverine. That is why I must typify stout-heartedness, courage, ferociousness, aggression and fearlessness. I symbolize everything that is threatening or threatening. I’m firmly rooted, built up and established in the faith. In the faith that if it is good it is beautiful and if it is bad it is experience. In the faith that everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end. In the faith that I must keep feigning strength until it is inked in my bones. In the faith that I am a gladiator and I must never lay down my shield.
Thank you for teaching me that my patchwork heart and my glitchy mind are all WORTHY.
You are cradled in my heart eternally! I miss you terribly! I love you mightily!
And to my other Dana, my maternal forebear, Suzanna, woman of statuesque beauty, exquisite strength, precision, courage and LOVE. She was as alpha as they come. Strict, advocative and now peaceful and free as a dove. (She laid down her shield and gained her heavenly wings earlier on in February 2015).
So dear Dana Suzanna, you are the missing piece of my heart. Your memory is my keepsake. My life is a conduit of your love and the monumental memories that we made.
Thank you for teaching me that all my sharp edges and missing parts are all LOVEABLE. Thank you for adorning me.
You are etched in my heart forever! I miss you greatly! I love you authentically!
PLEASE GIVE ALL THE FLOWERS TO MY FATHER’S MOTHER AND MY MOTHER’S MOTHER! ❣️