In 12 days, it will be 6 months since my mom died.
It’s crazy when I think about it because some days, I could swear she died just yesterday. Because on those days, I feel just as suffocated as I did the night I got the phone call from my dad. My heart races like it’s physically running through my mind and I feel like I’m going crazy. Then again, it’s ironic because I could also say it feels like forever because every single day has dragged on… With each passing day, I live through 24 more hours of my mom not existing in this world.
Today, I will share my diary entry from the day before my mom’s funeral – the day I visited her in the morgue. To anyone who sits and wonders how this could feel like in their spare time, you’re welcome!
Aguleri, Anambra State. 4.11.19
We just came back from seeing you. We were supposed to yesterday but we weren’t able to because we got there at 12ish, and the mortuary people only allow visits from 6-10am. Yesterday was intense. In summary, our tyre tore, we weren’t able to see you, and I pooped in a public toilet in a tyre market in Awka, and then I had a breakdown in a mechanic shop as we switched out the four tyres of Daddy’s car.
But back to today, we just came back from seeing you. I was very nervous initially. I didn’t know what to expect. I even started doing the nervous thing you do with your fingers. On our way there, Daddy told me he hated going to the mortuary. He told us about when his dad died and he identified his body to the autopsy person. Papa’s mortuary was the freezer kind. He said when he took his Aunty Alice’s body to the Eko Hospital mortuary, all they did was lay her down on the slab, and inject her two toes with a tiny syringe. And that was it. But when the mortician came to the house to prep your body, he had like a whole bucket of chemicals with multiple syringes, and he injected your body all over, including your head. I was like “Ahn ahn now”, and he was like “It’s a dead body. The only reason this is painful is because it’s your mom.”
Coco met us there. He had the morgue papers and your white dress and crown. Your casket was there. It’s so cute. Daddy picked it out. At first, I was really really anxious because Daddy had said in the car that your body would be very black now. And I’d actually thought that we were going to enter the storage room and walk through a sea of bodies on slabs, so I was trying my best to mentally prepare. But thankfully, that wasn’t the case.
After a little bit of waiting, they called us in. I was already in front, but for a second, I hesitated to go in. I was scared. They’d brought you out on a table and the first thing I saw was your beautiful white hair. Daddy was right – you were really dark. And all the distorted images of your face I’d created in my head to prepare myself did not match your face. I was startled for a split second because you looked so different – darker, wider, stronger features. But immediately, I was able to see you in there.
Your lips were bigger but they were very slightly open, like you were smiling, but the rest of your face looked stronger – more serious. You had a wrapper around you. I motioned to the mortician if I could touch you; I couldn’t even say a word. He nodded back at me. So I touched your arm. It was really hard – it didn’t feel like skin. It felt like a wooden sculpture. But after that first initial unfamiliarity, it was smooth sailing. You were still you, my onye uwa oma. And you didn’t smell of any chemicals. I kept touching your arm, and the silent tears began to fall. I touched your stomach. It was also hard. But it was you.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Uncle Sunday. I gently shrugged him off and motioned I was okay because they were already like “It’s enough”, probably because I was crying. But I was okay. I was happy to see you. When we walked in, Daddy said “Onwuanyi! Great woman!” Ekene touched your arm too.
I hugged you. More like I put my head on your stomach as I held your arm. Mommy, I missed you soooo much. It was so good to see you. It will always be good to see you. In whatever form. I don’t even feel dirty or like I need to wash my hands. I feel normal, and even at peace. I needed to see you and hug you. And the fact that you looked like you were smiling also gave me peace – like you were at peace, or you were happy to see me. Oh Mommy ❤ I love you sooo much.
Eventually, Daddy and Coco were like “it’s okay.” I kept rubbing your arm. I missed you soooo much. You were still you. As we left, I couldn’t stop looking back at you but the mortuary people eventually closed the door. It was so good to see you, Mommy. So so good. It will always be you and me. Always. Please never forget me. Please think of me. I miss you so much. I miss you soo much. So much.