When my friend fell sick the year pandemic set in, I told myself that I’d go next week, which then turned to months until it was the time for his funeral. I was still angry he insulted me fully knowing he was lying on his death bed, all skin and bones. At the funeral, I bawled my eyes out, for the things that were left unsaid, for reconciliations that never happened.
A friend just passed, not even a month ago, his messages left unattended, me thinking ‘I’d reply tomorrow’ turning to weeks and months.
In between these passings, my father did too.
I was busy being the person he wanted to be, forgetting fully well what he loved about me the most was the time I gave him. When the pandemic lockdown happened last year, I asked him to be home. And I’d tell him that I’d visit him soon. I never knew how distant ‘soon´ meant until his burial. When he asked me to get him his fav cookies while at the quarantine centre, I told him “Next time”.
Last year during Father’s Day, he was in Quarantine Centre. I thought I’d get him gifts like always, but considering where he was, I told him he would get his gift ‘Next Year’ when he is back with us. I never knew his days were numbered.
When he was moved to the hospital, I had to run errands for him and my mother, and no matter how many times he asked me when I would come, I would say “Next time”, thinking he’d come out unscathed like he always did.
I remember the day I rushed into his ward because we knew his body was giving up. Since morning he was expecting me to come, so I complied. But by the time I went in, he couldn’t see me. My sister told him that I was there next to him, but we all knew he was long gone. I always said ‘Next time’ until there was no next time.
I have not been able to take myself to Church ever since. How can I sit in the pews and not see him seated on the elderly seats? His hands joined together and singing without a care in the world? How can I ever get used to the haunting sights of his seats being empty, or occupied by a stranger?
In my heart, I refused to be part of a system that forgets the name of its own people who had served the ‘Lord’s Mission’ for as long as he lived. I cannot un-feel the pain that wrung my heart when the reverend pronounced a wrong name when his body was to be sent for burial to my village from the hospital as if he had too many a funeral to attend to on that day. In my heart, I tell myself ‘I’ll get over it next time’, and I know it is a long journey to forgiveness when it’s not even mine to forgive.
This Father’s Day and every day that I have lived since, it reminds me that there is no next time.
If we have to fight, we’ve got to do it now and make up; If we have to love, we’ve got to love now. If we have to live, it’s now or never.
And I know, I am slowly coming back to living without Heiwo. Because keeping up with the harsh reality of life is Heiwo’s life testimony, and I shall keep up with life.
Remember, there certainly is no next time.
Happy Father’s Day.