I haven’t cried yet.
I know you are no more. If nothing else, the conspicuous casket that is stealing all the thunder in today’s gathering is a dead giveaway – pardon the pun.
I know that after today, after we lower you to the open ground that is waiting to swallow you up, I will never see your face again. I’m also aware that you will henceforth be referred to in the past tense. To drive this point home, today a congregation gathers to send you off. And should that not drive the point home well enough, there is you to help. You, lying inside the casket face-up. You, freezing cold. You, just about as responsive as a stone. So, you, definitely dead in every sense of the word.
Fate has handed me a card. The card has ‘widow’ inscribed on it.
And the tears won’t come.
So I ask myself, have I lost a friend? Have I lost my soulmate? My beloved? A man that I loved so dearly and who loved me back? Equally, maybe more? A man who walked with me in the journey of life and helped me face its vicissitudes? Have I lost my pillar of strength? My fountain of love? My source of joy?
For some reason, my tears have boycotted your funeral. They won’t embrace me as they’re used to doing. The sobs I was hoping would cover me before I could complete my eulogy, continue to keep a safe distance. I should be unable to speak without my voice shaking. The tears should be dancing dangerously close to my eyelids every now and then. Sobs should have hit me from all sides and not given my voice a chance to be audible.
Interesting that my tears refuse to show up today to honor you in death while they revered you when you were alive.
During those nights when you came home drunk, when you’d yell my name all the way from the gate and I got on my knees, shaking like a leaf, hoping that the sight of me kneeling would pacify your anger towards me, and as I knelt shaking, warm tears would leave my eyes and settle on my knees with me. As fear took over my body, the tears would flow out of my body to respectfully leave room. And we’d stay like this, my shaking body kneeling next to my warm tears as we waited for you to come through the door.
Most nights, you’d kick the door as you walked in. Even if you found it open, you had to kick it. And that kick always got my heart pounding. But you knew this, didn’t you? Sometimes you’d head straight to the living room and yell for some food to follow you to your seat if, “You want peace in this house, you stupid hoe!” I’d want peace. I’d want peace so bad. So I’d trip over my feet as I fetched your food. Sometimes I made it from the kitchen to you with the food. Other times, you followed me to the kitchen and pounded my idiotic big head, my slow hands that couldn’t get anything done right, my stomach that only knew how to feast on the food you worked so hard to provide, my prostituting nether regions, and my silly behind. That punch to my stomach, that is how you obliterated my two unborn babies. That kick to the stomach. Ever excruciating.
Your pounding was always precise that I never fetched a black eye to show for all the work you put to disciplining your wayward wife.
I’d cry. I’d serve your food and cry. I’d ask you to spare me and cry. I’d plead with you to forgive me for whatever mistake I could have done, and cry. I’d promise to be a better wife, and cry some more. You’d ask me to “Shut up, you mannerless piece of shit.”
I’d sit and wait for you to finish eating your food. Then you’d stagger to the bedroom. Then you’d throw your weight on the bed. And you’d snore like thunder. And my tears would keep me company throughout the night. Two rivers, perennial to a fault, flowing endlessly, drenching the pillow. These tears always knew how to show up for a friend.
They were ready to show up that evening when you texted me during the day to notify me that I had not correctly matched your socks. To remind me how I continued to embarrass you, like, “What the hell were you thinking putting out two different socks for me to wear?” I knew you’d gone to the bar after work. And I knew what was coming after. My heart beat so fast I could taste it in my throat. My tears reassured me that I was not alone and they hang around my eyelids ready to show up when I needed them. Then, as we waited, my tears and I, we got that phone call from your colleague. The one who you’d go drinking with. The one who was driving behind you from the bar. The one with the tragic news. News that sent my tears into hiding.
A car accident. Lorry. Highway. He’s gone. Sorry.
So I was waiting for a thorough pounding from you. A beating that could potentially obliterate baby number three who’d survived seven beatings so far. Champ. But instead, I got a phone call that told me that you were no more.
That you would not come home to pound me after all. That my baby had a good chance of going the whole nine months without being turned into pulp. That my tears, my tears, my loyal, faithful, very courageous tears, did not have to keep me company anymore.
That phone call told me that my husband was dead. It also told me that fear was gone. Was this a tragedy or an answer to a prayer? Should I mourn the end of your life or celebrate the beginning of mine and the safety of the young life growing inside me?
I wanted to cry just as much as I wanted to shout for joy.
For some reason, I couldn’t cry.
I gave you so many tears when you were alive. Forgive me for not crying today.
I want to believe that my tears not showing up is a sign that I’m going to be just fine.