It’s always interesting to witness the simplistic reactions to grief management, and those who are immersed in unimaginable pain, and yet are forced to dutifully fulfill obligations for public appraisal.
People are moved by strength and the uncanny ability to perform with enviable stoicism in the face of a real-life horror that would surely knock us out, and leave us in a revived state of sedation.
But why is that the common assessment levied on those, who despite the lifelong suffering ahead, and the current status of disbelief and shock, still manage to show up and spread love and light in the wake of blinding darkness?
When my maternal grandfather suddenly passed away months after my 10th birthday, after gross negligence led to a diabetic coma that he never recovered from, the swelled up emotions were perplexing.
Due to his illustriousness as a revered judge in his district in the Eastern region of Nigeria, the ceremonial and intricate details behind the arrangements for his final goodbye, completely hijacked the immediate attention of my parents and family members.
But once the elaborate festivities were over, the dust didn’t really settle for the girl who desperately loved the grandpa who made great use of the too short time that he shared with the devoted granddaughter he knew so well.
Our bond was indescribable because words never do justice to the seamlessness of relations that alight between two souls, that gratifyingly find each other.
Seeing him lying-in-state was a sight that stunned my senses, as I realized the cruelty of death on a once-vibrant, gregarious and hearty spirit that was inexplicably reduced to a stiff and unrecognizable substitute.
When you’re too young to comprehend the mechanisms of processing what should never be understood or accepted, the natural tendency is to bottle it all up inside, and spend hours in your room, on your bed, secured to your Walkman with embraceable memories set to music.
There was a deep and widening hole in my heart that couldn’t be filled, and the mental isolation collided with the residue of an ongoing traumatic experience, that had already taken hold and jolted my spirit in ways that even my grandfather could detect before he left me.
Looking back, I’m amazed at how I bravely accommodated what was certainly a heavier burden for any child, who is left to her own devices.
But, it wasn’t my inconceivable amount of strength that saved me. Believe it or not it was the purity of love, and how it conquers all.
Instead of running away from the pain of loss and the confusion of reconciling the permanency of an abrupt exit, that occurred without the consent of the one you will miss forever, I began to saturate myself in the precious communion that was beautiful enough to bring back the words to me.
Nothing lost, and everything gained.
My first set of poetry blasted out of my head and decorated the white sheet of paper, as my pencil voraciously brought my grandpa back to life.
It was joyous, hopeful, powerful, comforting, affecting and enlightening.
Imagine a young girl, unburying herself with the blessing of a heartache, and the permission to smile through the discovery of how self-expression can promise endless episodes of blissful reunions.
My love for him was greater than the paralyzing sadness, and the relentless need to hide from a world that didn’t reflect the hovering sorrow that I couldn’t outrun.
Love is the underestimated potency of healing that gets the short end of the stick, because of how the symbol of strength automatically defines graceful actions that defy reason in situational duress.
Love provides the tools that transcend the limitations of human capabilities.
When love rules, the rest falls into place, and you won’t have to lead, because the ones you lost and found are carrying you along in the legacy of what you have together.
That’s the victory lap of a lifetime.