I got some news last week, rushed home very quickly, poured a glass of wine , as is always the norm, lit a few candles and fell back on my amazing pouf, notes in hand , ready to fill up my gratitude jar. Jotted down about 6 things i was grateful for that day and it hit me , I hadn’t shared the news with anyone ………. Rushed for my phone and dialed …. Number kept going off and i thought why, so i called my friends sister, after all they lived together, ……….i could hear her heart beating so fast through the phone, and after a long awkward silence , Jane (not real name )softly managed with so much concern in her voice to ask , penny are you okay ?
I responded yes , with so much enthusiasm , i have never been better, why ?
Jane : Penny! ……….long and awkward silence again …………Rose died five years ago. You were there remebember?
Silence ……..tears ………pain………shame ……..anger ……..more awkward silence ………i hang up.
Did i know Rose was dead? Yes ! I had buried her . I had mourned her so long and even when the tears stopped coming , i never stopped grieving. I wailed so bad my dog sky came and wailed with me . It was fresh all over again. The stories , the laughter , the dreams , the last days with her ……………i fell apart. I could neither leave my bed nor talk to anyone the following few days, numb and lost in grief, i sat in the darkness coverring my room and heart and wept. While all this was happening , i was not alone, i felt sorrounded even when all else was falling apart, the circle of sisterhood was present. Not caring how much i was broken, not asking questions, just present, incase i needed anything. Once in a while a joke seeped through, or some random story………..that, was the true meaning of being held!
Covid 19 changed the dynamics of grief and celebration for many, but for Africans, it killed our traditions. The past few years have been nothing short of awkward. The ways of living and doing things that we had become so acquainted with, were shuttered. We have carried pains and burdens i can not explain the gravity of . Our cultures. And traditions and rites of passage were heavily disrupted by the famous “COVID-19” pandemic that fulfilled the “let the dead burry the dead” narrative. Some of us are not even ready to face the fact nor come to terms that some of our loved ones passed away during this horrible season where we were denied travel, access, proximity, rites of passage!
Grief has a way of revealing our hearts , whether it comes out in how we choose to respond or not, it just somehow always finds a way to sip in /through and cause unexplainable disruptions . You can tell alot about the heart of a man by how he grieves. By the wide range of things we grieve that are not death. There is grief that is beyond death, beyond imagining , beyond words ………………….that grief that unsuspectingly creeps up on you while you are busy minding your business and trying to stay afloat. That unapologetic kind that shakes you to the core and leaves you helpless. When grief takes on the form of shame , anger , fear and other forms along that line,…….. that’s the easy part of grief . But there is grief that just happens. You have no choice , it just keeps happening. That level of grief requires community. Solid sisterhoods and brotherhooods that sorround you and overwhelm you with a love stronger than grief. That is Africa , that is who we are!
Today as i thought baout Africa, i saw community. A level of togetherness in how we are quick to cover, to sorround, to shield, to provide , to protect ………espcially with how we grieve and celebrate. Our rites of passage are the true definition of UBUNTU. And as you deal with whatever grief you carry, my you be reminded that you are sorrounded, you are held, you are loved. Because at the heart of Africa, is ubuntu.