I woke up in the very early hours of the morning very to piercing screams. The screams were so loud and intense that for a moment I thought I was having a nightmare. When I realized I was well and truly awake fear gripped me and my forehead became ice-cold. I sank into my bed, tens of thoughts running through my mind; what could it be? Has it finally happened? Are robbers attacking the neighbourhood (when I first moved here I had several vivid dreams about being attacked by robbers). What was going on? The screams seemed to be coming from a distance, a few houses away. Then I heard his voice and a chill ran through me.
"A nwu o na m o!!!! Nwunye m a naa. Nne m a naa. Mummy m a naa. A nwu o na m oooooooooooo!"
And then I heard several more screams. I got off my bed and ran to my window. I saw people outside the house four compounds away. His cries; I am dead o! My wife is gone. My sister is gone. My mother is gone. I am dead oooooooo.
My neighbour had just lost his wife at about 3am this morning.
To be honest my first thought was that I needed more sleep. I had a hectic day ahead and I needed all the sleep I could get. I went back to my bed and covered my ears with my pillows and threw my duvet over my head. But still those screams permeated. Those piercing bloodcurdling screams.
And they continued till day light. He kept crying for his wife, kept begging for death to take him, swearing that he could not live without her; that he would die first. Asking God why.
I don't know these people, I hardly know or see any of my neighbours. But with every scream I felt something claw at my heart. It must indeed be extremely painful to lose a loved one.
It's not like I never knew how intense the pain must be. Death is the worst thing I or anyone can think of, losing a loved one is even worse. Death is something no one likes to talk about. I, most especially.
I'm most scared of it and the one thing I'm most inept at is Condolences. I just never know the words to say to the bereaved. Sorry? God knows why? God knows best? We cannot question God? The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away? What? What words would suffice? What words do you say to a person who just lost someone so close and dear to them to death, what words can ever console?
All day I've thought about my neighbour, his screams keep ringing in my head. I wonder how he's doing. Has he come to accept it? Maybe not, acceptance is the last stage of grief. He's probably still in denial, soon he may begin to negotiate. Has he eaten anything all day? Has he been able to sleep? Did they have to sedate him? Has the pain receded, even just a tiny bit? Does he still cry?
I keep hearing those screams and my heart throbs. That thing called death...
May the soul of my neighbour's wife rest in peace. May God heal and comfort her broken husband, somehow.
How does one deal with the pain of losing a loved one?
Photo source: www.singleblackmale.org