Yesterday I woke up to a chat from a friend's sister telling me that my friend is dead. It took something out of me, something I no longer thought I had in me, tears. I had not hurt like that in a long time and the feeling was somewhat new to me. I basically cried most of the morning through to mid afternoon before I got dressed and left the house to see a friend whose wife had just had a baby boy.
What made me cry was not just the fact that I had lost a friend. Now that was painful enough but we had not been in good terms for a while and as a result we had not been communicating. I have a poor habit, I don't check up on friends especially through phone calls. I can be online all day but I rarely use my Facebook chat, WhatsApp or discord except for those who I chat with everyday or those who reach me for one reason or the other. As to my calls, I go months without a single unit of airtime in my phone. Even my parents are fed up.
Regret is a sword of fire. My friend's sister said that she was sick for a year before she passed on and I didn't know. Maybe I knew because my memory is messed up, I can't say. I have a feeling she told me of being sick but I'm not sure. I am not sure we spoke this year, maybe we did because she always tried to reach out to me, invite me to church programs, which I went to because she asked, and she always wanted to seek advice from me. So it is possible she reached out to me. Now when I look back at what led to the distance between us, its minuteness in the scheme of things embarrasses me and makes me question how true a human being I'm and how much of a friend a really am.
We had always quarrelled. We were like siblings who made each other angry then we settled and quarrelled again. I just refused to be more amenable this time. I let my pain, sorrows, worries, overwhelm me and make me forget that giving of self is more important than any other kind of gift one can give to another. It is this that I regret, not being there in her battle, in her struggle, not being there to hold her hand, to say it is fine, to hear her complaints, to think of solutions, to pray, to believe with her. This is my regret. I did not know and I should have. I should have known.
She was young you know. Still at the cusp of life, still at the edge of discovery, still dreaming but life is nothing but a hoe and a hole in the earth. Yesterday when I wandered my home from room to room, perching on door posts, leaning on walls and crumbling on the floor, I wondered if I would ever pick at my grey hair, if I would ever watch grandchildren at play, if I would hold her hand, the love of my life and build a life with her, I wondered as I wandered. I have never taken anything seriously because I have never expected to live to old age but in recent times, I'm beginning to want those things I have never paid attention to; love, family, children, health, money, dreams. It is as if I'm getting out of a life long depression and in truth that is what is happening.
Someone wrote in a short story I read on Praxis magazine, that old people go to funerals because they keep losing their friends. By the time we grow old to that point, we have become used to grief not now when we are still young, wild and free to coin Khalifa's phrase. It is always disheartening when a friend goes especially young friends pass on. It is worse when due to time, work, life, finances we lose contact with people who call us friend.
I slept at my friend's place, the one with the baby boy. The boy looks like him with his small round head. It reminds me of when we first became friends back in secondary school in what feels like a thousand years ago. His head was that small and tiny back then. His wife gave me the baby to hold and I was scared. He was so small and tiny and I didn't want to break anything. They laughed at me when I yelled Jesus! as soon as the baby entered my arms. I didn't hold him long though. He was soon back with his mother and my heart relieved. I will go back home today but I'll stop first at my parents' (yes they are in town). They can't seem to stay in one place for too long. Retirement must be boring. They have complained that I don't call or visit so let me go before I'm disowned.
The funeral is tomorrow and I cannot afford to go but my friend will always be in my prayers and in my heart. I'll always remember her eyes and laughter. Some day my turn will come and I hope that there will be someone somewhere who feels my passing too and will remember me. Good morning.