How can they be dead? How can they be dead? The question echoes in my head repeatedly.
I was in Benin only a few days ago to witness the formalization of a love that I was an observer to from inception – the bride and groom are both close friends of mine. ‘I will marry your friend’, the groom said, all those years ago in UniJos. The happiness in his eyes knew no bounds as the new couple turned round to face the crowd, after receiving the blessing from the Arch Bishop. The groom ceremoniously led his new bride to her chair, cleaned off invisible dirt and gestured lovingly for her to take a seat.
Fast forward two days and I receive news that the groom’s mother and older sister have died in a car crash on their way back to Abuja. The bride’s first wifely duty is now to console her grieving husband. I can’t help but think back to the moments during the wedding, when I encountered them. I had seen the groom’s older sister with her baby just before we, the bridesmaids, ushered the new couple into the reception venue. Later on, I saw her trying to settle her restless daughter and I just smiled, too lazy to get up to say hi. 10 minutes later, I finally summoned up the energy and went over to greet her and be introduced to the little girl. I spent about 2 minutes chatting with her and then went back to continue my ‘bridesmaid duties’ at the bridesmaid table. I only saw her in passing after that and more so when she brought food over to where we were seated. My last memory of her is when she was dancing with the bride and my last memory of her mom is when her dad introduced us. I noticed, as I am sure many did, that parents of the couple both wore the same material. It wasn’t an uncommon sight at Nigerian weddings but in my opinion, only families that really saw themselves as families, did that. The mothers of the couple even had similar styles and that even made me more certain that they would go well together.
No one knew, no one even suspected, that these wonderful moments would be the last memory they would share with them.
No one knew, no one even suspected, that as the couple said their vows, the bride would soon play the role of mother and older sister to her inconsolable husband.
The finality of death is what hurts about death. The fact that you would never see, talk to or touch the deceased ever again, their unaccomplished hopes and dreams, the moments that you would never share with them. Death is no respecter of schedules, deadlines, riches, poverty, health, academic achievements and the likes and we all know this but still say words carelessly, act arrogantly and make plans for tomorrow when we aren’t even sure of today. As often as I hear news about death, I always wonder what thoughts flash through the minds of the departed, just before they die. Some say your whole live flashes in those final moments but I beg to differ. I think that the things left undone and words left unsaid would be paramount in one’s mind. Regrets mostly or just maybe joy at having lived a good life. Only God knows, just as only He knows what lies in store for each and every one of His children. I do not pretend to understand His ways but my solace, strength and hope is that I can trust in Him who knows the end of a matter from the beginning and He is Kabioosi, The Unquestionable One, so I trust Him whole-heartedly because His thoughts towards me are of good and not of evil to give me hope and a future.
My intention is not to give a ‘Life is too short’ lecture or a ‘Vanity, vanity, all is vanity’ sermon, but to remind us that whatever we say before we leave a person is going to be theirs or our last memory of them till we meet again. That should put our whole lives in perspective. It definitely has put my life in perspective.
Rest in peace Mrs Abike Yepwi and Mrs Rosemary Babayanju (nee Yepwi).