Will We?

Will you come to my funeral?

Will you take your time to come and see if I have passed on for sure?

Will you shake your head and wipe a tear as they lower my corpse 6ft under?

Will you wonder when exactly I reached my breaking point?

Will you talk about how I’m going to hell because I’ve taken my life?

Will you share stories about the times we were together?

Will you write posts about mental illness?

Will you talk about how important it is that people check on those around them?

Will you mention that you noticed the scars on my arms but you thought it was nothing?

Will you wonder if you could have done better while I was still alive?

Will you think about the times I reached out and you could have helped but you didn’t?

Will you talk about how I wasn’t alone and I should have known?

Will you call me weak?

Will you call me selfish?

Will you call me ungrateful?

Will you?

Will I finally have peace?

Will I escape the voices that hound me daily?

Will I be freed from the shackles that have me bound to the walls?

Will I face judgement for my actions?

Will we find out?

On this world mental health day, it’s important that we make ourselves aware of the challenges being faced by the people around us and we position ourselves as best as we can to assist them.

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Never Ending Grief

Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.Vicki Harrison

One of the very few things in this life that is certain is death. Whether it’s our own or that of people we know and love, it will certainly come to be. The only questions are when and how but it is without doubt that we will die. Death not only takes away a person’s life but it also takes with it everything that person represented to us. It takes away all the plans we had with that person. It takes away the conversations we would have had. With time, it even takes away some of the memories we had created with that person. Take take take. That’s all it does.

Grief changes shape but it never ends – Keanu Reeves

I suffered a great loss once. Although many things about the day she passed away are fading in my memory, the pain is as vivid as ever. That day changed me and my life. Everything I thought I knew changed on that day. Everything I believed changed. I changed. I didn’t understand the change and I wouldn’t for a long time. It took me a while to figure out that the very core of my existence had been ripped out and there was a huge change as a result. I am still figuring myself out but now I am better placed to learn about these changes and adjust accordingly. I also tried to fight my grief, to force it to end. I have come to the realisation that it never ends. The void left by my mother will forever exist and I can only learn to live with it. Until the day my own death comes, I will forever grieve for her.

So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love – E. A. Bucchianeri

I have come to a point where I have let my grief become a part of me. Grief is a product of love and I cannot change how much love I carried, so neither can I change the grief that comes with it. Today, the 2nd of June when this is published, would have been her 51st birthday. Yet another thing death robbed me of, the chance to celebrate her birthday with her. It will forever be a reminder to me that we do not have as much time as we think we do. The people we love must know it now that they are important to us. We have the opportunity to show that love because once it turns into grief, we can only feel it ourselves but never will we be able to show it to those we feel it for.

My grief made me focus on a lot of negative things. I spent a lot of my time asking questions to which I can never get answers. I spent my time seeking relationships with people I thought would fill the void in me. I sought healing from places which would never be able to provide it. Now I can safely say I have accepted my grief as a part of me. My grief will exist forever and I accept it. That is my healing.

May you forever rest in peace Martha Tikambenji

The Life And Times: 7.1

It had been several hours since the man sitting in the last pew of the hospital chapel had moved. Father Amos had been in and out of the chapel most of the day but every time he came back in this man would just be sitting there with his head bowed. He had a break coming up and decided to go and see if he could help. Instead of going up there and asking questions or offering platitudes he sat next to the man and crossed his hands. He had the feeling that nothing could be done to console him but he hoped sitting with him would be some comfort.

“Forgive me father for I have sinned” Kumbira said and startled the priest who had zoned out into an almost meditative state. “It’s been 15 years since my last confessional.” Father Amos looked up. “On this day and many days in this past month I have cursed God and I’m not sorry for it. The two closest women in my life did not get along from the day they met. I tried as best I could to build a bridge and bring about some common ground but I grew weary. As long as they were not using me to score points against each other I ignored the tension. My mother grew advanced in age and she needed care. She wanted to come live with her son but my wife was against it. We had a stranger come in to take the role of carer.

Then my mother took ill not 3 weeks ago and nearly died. Maybe if she had been living with us it may have been different. My sister came back from her self imposed exile and told me she is queer, whatever that means. She also told me of a side to my mother that I can’t comprehend. But I can’t ask her because she’s sick you know? My wife, ah Christ, my beautiful Stella. Jesus, jeez! Bloody buggering hell I’m going to kill that sonofbitch!” Kumbirai exploded as he surged to his feet. Father Amos stood with him and put his arms around Kumbi for comfort, still he said nothing. “Fuck me fuck me fuck me,” Kumbirai chanted. “ I want God to come here and fight me. He clearly has something against me because this is not ok Father. It’s not fair. Your god must come and face me so we can settle whatever the issue is. My child is dead before he even got a chance to live. My wife is barely hanging on and I don’t know how my mother is cause I haven’t had five minutes to check in on her. I can’t do this, how am I supposed to live? This is too much, how can all this misfortune fall on one man. What have I done to deserve this? Tell me! I am good and kind and help the poor. I’m a fair boss, why is this happening to me? How can I even ask Stella to live, she wanted a baby so much but that bastard, that bastard I’m going to kill him. I swear on my mother I will kill him.” He fell to his knees like the words he’d just uttered had been holding him up and now with the rant done he had no strength to hold himself up. He was sitting on the floor with his head on Father Amos’ lap, sobbing when Maria rushed in.

She rushed to his side and hugged him fiercely and tried to tug him up at the same time. “Kumbi we have to go, the doctors, they have news.”

By SGK

The Life And Times: 6.4

Isaiah moved back and fell into the couch. He was shaking and he didn’t know if it was rage or fear. “What have I done?”, he said under his breath. Joyce was at the phone stand trying to speak but her sobs were making he words inaudible. Tears started streaming down Isaiah’s face and he quickly wiped them away. Joyce came back into the room and knelt besides her daughter. It was only then that Isaiah dared to look. He shuddered as he saw the limp body of Stella and he couldn’t stop the tears this time. Joyce held Stella in her arms weeping uncontrollably. Minutes later, the ambulance arrived and the paramedics attended to Stella. “What happened to her”, one of the paramedics asked although the scene narrated the events itself. The question was met with silence as was the norm for such questions in this particular house.

Stella tried to open her eyes but she couldn’t. She couldn’t sort her thoughts out either. Everything was a blur and she couldn’t quite figure out where she was. She could make out voices but they weren’t close enough for her to hear what exactly they were saying. There was an annoying beeping sound and Stella hoped someone would switch it off. The fog in her mind refused clear out and she drifted away back to sleep.

Kumbirai had spent every one of the past three days in the hospital. He had been hooked to an IV earlier because he was dehydrated and exhausted. Even then, he had refused to leave Stella’s side so the IV and an extra bed had been brought into the room. The doctors said her brain activity as good but they had no way of knowing when she would come around. A part of Kumbirai didn’t want her to wake up because he didn’t know how he would tell her the news that had shattered him. “I shouldn’t have let you leave the house”, he whispered whilst holding Stella’s hand. “I’m sorry”. Stella would be shattered and Kumbirai knew he had no idea how they’d deal with it. He remembered exactly how he had felt when the doctor broke the news to him. “We tried everything we could but we couldn’t save the baby”.

By J6L

The Life And Times: 6.3

It’s not every day that a man is confronted by his past mistakes and failures. He’d never forgive his wife for giving him only one daughter because a man needed sons to carry his name. In his position as pastor of the very successful Life Covenant Ministry he was a most respected man until that Elder Micheal started parading his sons and that got his goat every time. Here he was, surrounded by women who would not heed him, daring to speak before he did. Where had all the respect gone?

While he warred with himself over the news just delivered, Stella continued talking. The words ‘only you mama ‘ broke through his reverie and he said ‘what? What did you just say?” Stella squared her shoulders and said ‘ We both know that there can never be peace between you and me Baba, there is no bridge big enough to sweep everything that’s happened under. However, at this time in my life and especially when I finally go into confinement I need my mother so I came here today to see how we can go about this.” While Stella was talking, Joyce sat there mute with shock but she could see where this conversation was headed. They’d all been there too many times to count and while she was proud of the way her daughter stood up to her father she knew the fear of a mother who’d once seen her child leave and never look back.

“Who do you think you are Stella?” Isaiah began, “ the good book says you should honor your father. But you come into my house, the very same house you swore you’d never come into after I confronted you about your sins as tried to discipline you. Then you go ahead and disrespect me in my own home.’ Stella was about to respond when her mother’s hand clutched her sleeve. Isaiah looked at their clutched hands and the rage in him increased hundred fold. He walked over to the table to pour a drink and try to get himself under control. He took a sip of his whiskey then turned around and said quietly ‘get out.’ Both women looked up in shock unsure who he was addressing. “Baba ” Joyce began before she was cut off with a hand in the air. Isaiah turned fully to his daughter and said “I said get out of my house you Jezebel! You come into my house throwing demands around in the name of your unborn bastard. Go back to the snake pit you crawled from!”

With each word Isaiah was advancing to where Stella now stood defiantly, chin angled up as if daring him to strike her. Joyce was crying softly beside Stella with her head bowed like someone who knew their place. “ I’m not leaving without my mother today Baba, but go ahead, strike me. Strike me then you will know my name.”

By SGK

The Life And Times: 6.2

It was as if time froze. Joyce couldn’t believe her eyes. She felt her legs buckle under her and she had to use the frame of the door to stay on her feet. Joyce tried to speak but the words wouldn’t come out of her mouth. So many thoughts were rushing through her head and she didn’t know what to do. She hadn’t thought much of the unfamiliar car in their driveway when she had made her way in. They always had unexpected visitors from the church. Joyce involuntary looked at Isaiah and the fury on his face made her shudder. “Sit down”, Isaiah said with vehemence. Joyce slowly walked to the empty couch that was furthest from her husband and sat. She lifted her head and stole a look at their visitor, or rather, intruder. Stella looked at her mother reassuringly for a moment and returned her focus to her father.

If you asked Stella how she had ended up at her parents’ house, she wouldn’t be able to explain properly. How she had gone from an argument with Kumbirai, to a conversation with Maria, to being in her parents’ house would also baffle her. Her conversation with Maria had sparked an immediate need to confront her father. She had to be careful to not let on that she had seen Joyce recently. Joyce didn’t have to deal with the wrath of Isaiah. The woman had been through enough of that. Stella broke the silence and she felt her mother flinch. Isaiah didn’t like it when people spoke before him, Stella especially.

Joyce already knew the news but faking shock was equally as hard as receiving such news for the first time. Isaiah was still seething but one could get the sense that he wanted to be warm towards Stella. Everyone in the room knew his pride wouldn’t allow him to express any form of warmth towards his daughter. Years on conflict had led to this. Stella had made it clear that she wasn’t going to discuss matters of the past. She had a single agenda and it had stunned her father beyond all his anger. Stella was pregnant and the shock of it had hit Isaiah really hard.

By J6L

So Am I

Life is tough. I have heard those three words so many times but I have only grasped their full meaning recently. I have seen a fair amount of hard times myself and I have seen the people in my life go through theirs. Only recently though has the complete sense of life’s toughness hit me.

I recently had a dream that summed up where I am in life. In the dream, I was in a house that seemed familiar. I could find what I was looking for with a fair amount of ease. Gradually, I lost light and I was engulfed in darkness. It was so dark, I couldn’t see my hands if I held them up in front of my face. I couldn’t find my way in this familiar house anymore. Whenever I tried to move towards anything, I’d bump into something. A table corner here, a chair there, a wall that side. It was almost as if the house had shrunk and everything had inadvertently moved to block my movement. I was trapped and everything I was trying wasn’t working out. Eventually, I gave up and just stood in the dark realizing I had no other moves to make lest I keep bumping into things and hurt myself bad. I stopped trying.

Life is tough. It’s even tougher when you are a young adult in a country like Zimbabwe. More often than not, you will find yourself in a position that feels impossible to navigate. Sometimes it actually is impossible to navigate because the situation economically and socially is crippling. No matter how much you know there isn’t much you can do about it, the effect of the situation cannot be cushioned. We still feel as if maybe we could try harder, that we could exert ourselves more and we could equip ourselves more. We are wired to look at ourselves and find inadequacy even where it doesn’t exist. I, for one, lack the ability to accept that sometimes I did all I could and it’s not my fault things didn’t take a positive turn. It’s really hard to not blame yourself especially when it looks as if everyone around you has it figured out one way or another. Pressure. External and internal pressure. *sigh*

We want the best out of this life. It’s easy to turn that desire to achieve certain things into unmanageable amounts of pressure. We might even end up crippling ourselves in the process of trying to aim for the best. We must always strive to achieve the peak of our abilities. However, we must cut ourselves some slack and remember that we are human. Things don’t always work out and that is ok. It’s extremely important that we exercise a certain degree of self care. Without that deliberate effort to look out for yourself, there is a huge risk of losing oneself completely. I’ve been on the edge, I live there and I know what it’s like to be in a position to lose yourself. I am currently fighting to remind myself that I have done all I can and the darkness I’m in is not of my making. There is nothing I could have done and if I wait long enough, the light may come again. I will be patient with myself. I will allow processes. Life is tough but so am I. So am I.