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You Are Legend

I thought I knew what loss was when I wrote “Laughter & Champagne.” But this is worse.20130101_102728

His room still smells of him. I never noticed till he was gone. But his room has a distinct smell. It is the scent of Icy-Hot, the smell of folic acid, a hint of Dettol Cool and Vaseline Aloe-Vera. This is what his room smells like.

This is how to console a bereaved person.

Visit…and sit in silence, saying nothing. Or saying a lot, distracting them.

Bring food in Ziplocs and plastic bowls. So that we do not have to cook.

Do the dishes that keep mounting up because “guests” persist in eating the food other people have brought to console the family.

Sweep.

This is how not to console a bereaved person.

Hold them too tightly when they cry.

We don’t cry because we want hugs. We cry so that the sadness does not implode in our chests. We cry because we miss our love, because we can’t imagine the rest of our lives without hearing their voice, or seeing their smile, or feeling their hug. And this is perfectly acceptable, right, to cry about these things? So why do you stifle me, do my tears make you uncomfortable? Or do you just feel a need to be useful?

He was my twin. It was barely a year between us. And yet, we felt like halves of the same coin.

Us

It’s different when a parent dies. You know your parents will die, someday. You know you don’t have them forever.

It’s so different when your brother dies. The one whose first word wasn’t “Mama”, but an infant’s pronunciation of your name, “Meh-meh.” The one whose cries you interpreted to your astonished parents, “He’s crying because he wants water…because he wants to sleep.” The one you went to school with, shared secrets with. The one who persuaded you to stick your head between the bars of the burglary-proof gates, and then abandoned you when Daddy came with a smacking. The one who teased Janet’s dog with you, and then ran faster when the dog broke loose, leaving you to suffer the attack and subsequent bites. The one you had extra lessons with at the dining table in the small house off Allen Avenue. The one you cried with when your mother died, because your two younger sisters were too small to realize. The one you walked with to Chamuke’s house. The one. The one. The one.

The one you expected to be by your side growing old.

It feels like I’ve been amputated.

So incomplete. And again, my entire life is divided into Before and After.

I still see you, my brother. I still see your smile, I still hear your laugh.

Us
We were four, and now we are three. It’s like our identity is broken.

My brother, I know it’s best for you to be gone but God, I miss you. I miss you and there are no words to describe the missing.

You won’t be at my wedding?

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Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.27.09 AMI once tweeted that there is nothing more calming than the sleep sounds of the people I love. I had no idea how true those words were. When I prowl our house at night, I wait to hear the sounds of his snoring. And I don’t. How is it possible that everything is so empty?

The clichés rush my mind. I think it’s a dream, a horrible mistake, that by some stroke of divine intervention, he shows up with a, “There was a mistake.” And I would hug him, kiss him, smile, laugh, wear some make-up and my best clothes and we would have a party.

He was just 25, my God.

Osemhen. I have some bad news. Okhafo is dead.

It was all my nightmares come true.

Hey, brother.

Sister mi.

DimplesI can actually survive for days on nothing but a Sprite per day. It’s not so much that I forget to eat as that food seems inconsequential. It doesn’t matter. Or it does. Maybe it matters too much. Food has betrayed me. I said it last year on this blog; there is nothing as comforting as cooking for the people you love. I love cooking. I used to love cooking. Now, it has lost its pleasure. Cooking for who? My brother, my biggest fan, the one who was always willing to be my guinea pig is dead. And all the meals I used to make for him, all the special dietary needs I tried to cater to, all of it doesn’t matter. My best efforts didn’t work. My brother is dead.

And so I stroll past the orange seller in his wheel-barrow. Before, I would buy a dozen to juice for my brother. Now, I never want to see another orange in my life.

It is a tenuous connection to this world. I feel guilty about the conflicting emotions.

If there was no one else who loved me in this world, I would wish to join my brother. But my father…and my sisters who still need me to be strong for them…and K, darling K whose eyes are haunted by my grief. I’m here, we’re here, Life is here.

And never has the future looked so bleak. What is a future that is missing its past?

Okhafo is custodian of our childhood memories. Okhafo is trips to the beach, watching Alladin over and over and over, the Ikeja Bomb Blast and going to school together in the afternoon, the medical doctor who knocked us down in Maryland because he took his eyes off the road for a second.

I want to hold my brother’s hand again, and squeeze it tight. I want to exchange a secret smile and watch his cheeks dimple in that way that everyone loved (and some envied). I want to laugh together at something profoundly silly. I want to hear him stutter. I want to buy him another shawarma. I want to take Daddy’s car and drive to Ice-cream Factory after church and get ice-cream-wasted. I want to discuss another Ted Dekker novel. What am I to do with all your t-shirts that still smell of you? What am I to do with your laptop, your phone?

It’s been two weeks and my acne has returned; I can’t be bothered to treat my face. And I don’t care. And I’ve lost so much weight my wedding dress no longer fits. And I don’t care. How could I have taken for granted the simple blessing of having 3 siblings, our bond and unity unbroken?

And this is me protesting, my God.

And this is me accepting, my God.

When I am spent from crying, and my heart smashed to smithereens and my mind blown to the point that my head aches. This is me accepting, my God.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” And Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Oh, brother. Do you know, do you know that now you are legend?

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For Okhafo Daniel Richard Oghenekevwe Akhibi (September 13, 1989 – November 12, 2014)

0 Comments

  1. Oh my!
    All I can say is I know how you feel and I truly undertand.
    There has been times when I feel. And wat for the most important person in my life (now gone) could just appear and tell me God changed his. Mind and reshuffled every thing. There was a mistake or even the case has been won in the heavenly court and God said it wasn’t my time. But its never going to happen, right.

    Be strong love. You shall come out stronger. I am coming out stronger. We shall come out stonger….if for nothing but to make them smile down on us

  2. Anita says

    *sigh*
    Nothing to say. You are feeling… And that’s a good thing…
    Thought about you and the family today. I called my Dad to ask if he’s been in touch, to know how everyone is doing…
    I said a prayer for you…
    That’s all I can do…
    But meanwhile, feel… Just feel…

  3. I’m so sorry, Osemhen. ;(
    I wish I could say something that would comfort you, that would help you pull through this horrible time. But there are no words.
    My earnest prayers are with you, your sisters and your Dad.

  4. Gbeminiyi says

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss.
    I hope God gives you and your family all you need to pull through this difficult period and above all comforts you.
    My prayers are with you.

  5. Peace. Comfort. Strength. Hope.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Words are not enough.
    You’re in my prayers. You and your family.

  6. taiwo fagbo says

    May Almighty God give the family the strenght to bear the loss. .My prayers are with you.

  7. May his soul rest in peace.
    I cannot even begin to imagine how you feel.
    May God be with you and your family, comfort you all as you try to come to terms with this grave blow.
    xx

  8. I read this and stood up from my desk at work to pray for you.

    May the God of all comfort comfort you in your tribulation. May the peace of God which passes all understanding fill and keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. May God strengthen you and uphold you with his mighty right hand. May God be to you refuge and strength and ever-present help in this time of trouble and sadness.

  9. Amaka Anozie says

    when death comes, life is changed not ended. Okhafo is still a part of the family though in another mode. May his soul rest in peace.
    I’l keep praying for you, uwa, itasoha and dad.

  10. Hi Osemhen. I don’t know you well, but I experienced similar about 6 years ago when my brother passed away at 21 (it was 2 days after my 20th birthday). Something useful someone told me then was to try to emulate the good about him in myself. It meant a lot then, and many times, that has spurred me on to be better, to try harder, to succeed in one thing or another, and to celebrate him, even.
    Don’t hesitate to cry as much as you need to. It may never do but try to always remember that your close friends and many who know you have you in mind, and are willing to hear and listen and hug.
    I’ve said a prayer for Okhafo’s repose; and for your fortitude, and for that of your sisters and dad. Please, keep well:-)

    • I am very sorry for writing a different name:
      *I’ll say a prayer for Okhafo’s repose, and for you and your family’s fortitude.

  11. VNweze says

    Nobody can fully understand what you feel…. its impossible not even pple who have also lost a loved one, each one’s anguish is unique but my 2pence is dont ever feel guilty for the good feelings. I imagine Okhafo standing beside you wishing he could reach out to you and console you. U actually make him happier when U’re being happy. Of course that ache will never fully go away but look up & smile…… for him, sing even, laugh, dance dts what he will want dont forget he’s now in a better place with no pain, no aches, wishing U can jst see hw fine he is &share in his joy

    Yugochi

  12. This is quite heart wracking. And to know that your Special day is close at hand makes super super sad. But you have to be strong Osem,be strong for your Kae and for your family. I know your brother will proudly smile down on you on your special day,yes he will be super proud of you dear.
    It is a beginning of a new and eternal life for him,not an end. May God continue to comfort you and your family. My heart and prayers are with you Sweetie. It is going to be well soonest.
    Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord,may Your perpetual light shine upon him,Amen. RIP precious one.

  13. Kunle David Akeredolu says

    This is really painful, words fail one at this torturing times….. All i can say is , God Knows best.

    Accept my sincere condolence to you and your loving family, and Remember, IT IS WELL. Keep Faith.

  14. ogechi says

    Speechless thats how i feel. Its well my dear God knows best,may his gentle soul continue to rest in peace.

  15. Kay Tilewa says

    Sorry about your loss, may the Good Lord comfort you in this difficult time..

  16. Im not being a stranger…but I have no words… I am so so so sorry.

    This is a virtual tight hug, the ones that say so much… God is your strength. He shall turn your mourning into dancing in time… God bless you

  17. Chibogu says

    May God comfort you and your family….and may his soul rest in perfect peace, amen.

  18. Chinelo Chime says

    Sweetheart, I’m broken after reading this. Ohkafo is truly Legend and God knows why he let it happen. I know you are strong and you would go through this and come out stronger than ever cos that’s what he would want for you. He would want you to have the best wedding ever, just know he is smiling down at you from heaven and God would never let you feel the vaccum that his passing away has created.
    My prayers are always with you and your family and your Saturday would be a blast.

  19. amaoge says

    Hi Osemhen, words fail me…… I’ll keep praying for him, you, dad, uwa and Itasoha. It’s the best that I can do. Take heart, the Lord is your strength….”look up, and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near”.
    Cry all you need and then dry your eyes or smile through the tears, he’ll always be with you…, in your heart, in your memory… he’s still there even now, he lives on.
    Eternal rest grant unto him o Lord, and let perpetual light shine on him. May he rest in peace, Amen.

  20. Osaretima Adoghe says

    This is very sad and i hope you are ok i am the daughter your cosien Uyi Adoghe my dad told me to read it and it is very touching. thank you xxx

  21. Moses says

    Hollow, that’s how I felt after the news, Gladdened, that’s how I felt after reading this. Reason, Because you do have a story to tell, a memory to keep and a positive disposition in this toughest of times. That may not be enough solace for me to be gladdened, but yet I am, am happy that God will give you enough strength to pull through this. Amen

    • Moses Alum says

      And me too would not be in the wedding…Okay, just the first leg. How I wish that was how Death was.

  22. Osemhen, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Praying God gives you strength.

  23. My hearts breaks with every word i read. It must hurt so. I was going to say it will make sense soon but that doesn’t bring them back..so that doesn’t make it fine..at least not in this world. But God holds you(and yours) Osemhen. You will find that it enough. Love. Hug.

  24. Leraygunn says

    There are no fitting words for this… pray that God gives you and your family the strength to heal..

  25. Jaycee says

    Am just getting to know you dear. Learning about your wedding and reading about this loss is a happy-sad moment for you. I pray that God will give you the strength to swim out of this period.

  26. Ebele Isioma says

    It will all be okay. In the end, He WILL make all things known. By and by, understanding and comfort will come.
    It will all be okay.
    With you in love and prayer,
    Ebele.

  27. What a beautiful post, it brought tears to my eyes. I lost two of my sisters (one when I was 8 and the other at 34) – I feel your pain and hope that time has dropped a tiny bit of hope into your heart and soul that you will recover from your loss. It takes time.. and yet you never fully recover, as he will always be missed. Blessings to you.

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