I still remember where I was the exact moment I heard the words ‘Daddy is gone’. We hadn’t seen you in 2years. You had procured your visa to come visit us in Calgary. We were looking forward to you walking the kids to school, knew you would strike up conversations with the neighbours with your flawless diction. You never had patience for anyone whose diction was less than perfect! All this before an unfortunate chain of events was set up that saw you never leave the hospital. Or ever come visit us. Biodun said I should go visit. I remember thinking sending money for your care would be best. I remember the day I knew I had to go. I called Mummy and she was crying on the phone. My giant of a mother who never cries. Whose unflinching faith in God makes her believe everything will always be alright. She cried.
I knew I had to see you. I told no one I was coming, for they would have discouraged me. I remember my brother’s shock when I showed up outside the Arrivals Hall in Lagos. It was me, not some friend I had asked him to meet to pick up some meds for you. I remember Mum’s tired and worn look from her post of vigil outside your hospital room. Her shocked but grateful tears when she saw me. ‘I asked you not to come’, she said. I remember when you opened your eyes and saw me for the first time. How you blinked and shut them, shook your head and opened them again. How Mum asked you, ‘do you know who this is?' In that moment, I saw the old fire in your eyes, you looked at her angrily.
It took you 5 minutes to muster all the strength you could. And you asked her, ‘What do you mean by that?’ Like, how can I not know my own child. I recognised my Dad there. Because that was not you lying in that bed. The time was short. I had to leave. I wasn’t sure if this was the way I wanted to remember you. You refused any more treatment. You said you wanted to go home and lie in your own bed. I arrived Houston, Texas to rejoin my family. We had a break in to our car in the hotel parking lot. And so I remember exactly where I was. Standing in the hotel lobby while we made the report of the break in. The phone rang. Biodun handed it to me. Ehi’s voice, as if from a distance. ‘Daddy is gone’.
I remember I dropped the phone on the marble floor. Remember looking surprised it didn’t smash to smithereens. ‘Daddy is gone’. I turned and bolted out of lobby. And headed straight for a busy road. Usain Bolt had nothing on me. Biodun probably never ran that fast before either. He tackled me to the ground.
‘Daddy is gone’.
It took a while. Crying in my sleep. Walking out of church if anyone dared to even share testimonies of their parents’ glowing health. Biodun pleading, ‘Please come back, Omome’. From whatever place it was I had retreated to. Going through the motions of normal life. I didn’t always speak to you everyday, but I knew you were there. I miss your nagging. Even if we couldn’t tell you everything because of your inability to forgive and forget if anyone hurt your children, we knew we always had you in our corner. You were a camel when it came to holding on to memories, both good and bad.
You always wanted me to be a doctor. You were more than a little disappointed when I gave up on that dream. Still, you never made me feel bad for making that choice. I am sad today that you are not here to see the dream is still alive after all. That you won’t be there to see me graduate. I’m still here. I’m still going. #FutureMD#Determinedtomakeit#Morethanhalfwaythere
Rest on Dad! Haven’t stopped missing you.
Today is the 6th anniversary of Onome's dad's passing. May he continue to rest in peace.