On Death

I have been seriously writing for the last half-decade; missives including poems, short stories, love letters, etc. In that time I have written about death or rather flirted with a semblance of it, understanding it to be a condition of life, be it a distant one. Over the weekend I received news that someone I consider a brother passed away, news that has since sunk me into intermittent depressive bouts. For reasons I do not quite know, I have not written anything in what seems like months. I figure this is the best time as any to get writing.

Strangely, I have always been at peace with the possibility of my own demise, prepared for it even. The idea that one should fear death has never really settled with me. The death of others; family and friends have always shaken me more. In the two decades of my existence, I have lost grandparents, an uncle and most recently dear friends. The drowning grief that accompanies these losses does not get any easier to bear, the weight in my chest is still as devastating with each turn.

Over the past fews days, I have received calls and messages from people close to me, those who knew how close I held Gbemiga Abiodun to heart. They tried in their own ways to offer solace. Whilst I appreciate their attempts, the platitudes have done nothing to ease the pain. I do not understand phrases like “God knows best,” or “Such is life,” they do nothing to justify the demise of a charming, talented driven young man.

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I am aware that I will live the rest of my adult life without any closure on the matter, death is petulant in that way. I know that Gbemiga, like Toba Falode before him, will now be confined to idyllic childhood memories of my past. I know that I have trouble dealing with the guilt, the visceral, pulsating feeling that I don’t deserve to be here, when more vibrant, talented souls have passed on. This guilt has invaded my work, laughter and now my writing.

In the past, poems have helped me grieve the loss of loved ones, an intentionally written form of therapy. I fear that I am not capable of writing my way out of this one. In a world I know to be random, brutish and unkind, I naively expected order. I expected us to grow up, to leave behind our vices and make good on all ours plans and projects. I cried tears yesterday, as I realized that you would not get to see your siblings grow, or start a family of your own, or reach the lofty heights you were so obviously destined for.

For all I know, I will live on, past the initial months of grieving and the years of silence. I know that I will not forget the sleepovers in Maryland or the times we got in trouble together for using fireworks past midnight. I will remember how proud I felt when I heard you had opened your own club, an establishment that brought us closer together. I will live the rest of my life with your memory etched indelibly in me, showing kindness in the way that you so effortlessly did and striving intentionally to leave behind a legacy.

I miss you already Gbemiga Abiodun.

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