Parents aren’t supposed to bury their kids, kids are supposed to bury their parents.
I didn’t know her personally. Her parents and my parents knew each other. Her sister and my sister went to school together. She and I have mutual friends in the Nigerian community. I didn’t know her personally, but I was still compelled to go and pay my last respects.
She was born in 1981, just 1 year before me. She was doing her masters at McMaster University. After that, she planned to go for her doctorate. She had very high hopes and large dreams, just like we all should. But the hopes and dreams of this world that she had were not meant to be.
She was at home by herself. I’m not sure of the exact circumstances, but what I do know is that she fell, likely tripped, and hit her head on something, likely a dresser or the edge of the bed, when she fell. She was alone. Because she wasn’t discovered until later, perhaps an hour or two, it was too late.
I was overwhelmed when I got to the funeral home. When I sit down to have my hair braided, how do I know it’s not the last time I’ll do this? Second last time? When I wake up in the morning, how do I know whether or not this will be the last time I brush my teeth? Wear this shirt? Watch the food channel?
It made me think of myself. I’m very happy for my life and I’m glad I’m here. What I do know is that my parents, on more than one occasion, probably sat there, wondering if they’d ever have a conversation with me again. I was a car with my dad’s best friend. We talked about the time I had that seizure at Sick Children’s hospital. He said that my Mom held it together as well as one could expect. My Dad however, wasn’t as strong. He was sitting on the floor in the hallway of the hospital. Crying. My dad’s best friend tried to console him past his own tears. I was seizing for an extremely long time. Hours even. But I still manage to be here. And I managed to escape that episode without any brain damage, the very next fear my doctors had when they realized that I was going to make it out of this episode alive.
All of these thoughts shot through my mind quickly. It then brought me back to funeral. The family. The father and his 2 other daughters were there. The mother wasn’t there. My Dad told me that in our culture, the mother doesn’t attend the funeral if her daughter should pass. I didn’t ask for an explanation. I didn’t want one at that time…I was still slightly numb.
I wonder how people go on after that. What do you do with her bedroom? Do you pack her things up and put them away? Do you leave it the way it is? What if you decide to move out of your house? Would you even want to? That was the last home she knew…would you…COULD you do it?
When I got home, I thought about my dialysis neighbour…he was a dialysis patient who used to sit in the chair next to me when I was still on the unit. He died. He got an infection that his already compromised and weak immune system couldn’t handle. He was only in his 50s.
I’ve been luckier than lucky in this life. I know that God is on my side, and I appreciate every breath I take. I appreciate every step I take. I appreciate every word I speak. I appreciate my life.