One cruel reality of life I struggle to deal with the most is death. Death signifies a rupture, an ending. But death can be an incomplete ending because the death of a loved one does not mean the end of them in your heart. Enter the gates of grief from which some never return.
My first memorable encounter with death was the passing of a childhood friend, Saikou Badgie, whom I shared a seat with at SerreKunda Primary School in 1982. We were in primary two and Saikou was said to have drowned in a part of The River Gambia we called Jips. Some years ago, I visited Saikou Badgie’s home in Churchill’s Town but not knowing what to say when I got to their compound, I just claimed that I was looking for the home of some random person. The woman I met there told me they had no idea who that random person was. I left and wandered about in the neighborhood for some time before deciding to go home.
My second painful encounter with death was the loss of another childhood friend, Buba Touray, the son of Ba Ansumana (Wandifeng) Touray of Kombo Gunjur. On my last visit to The Gambia, I visited Buba’s mother, Mba Sako, and only God knows how I managed to control my tears when we were discussing Buba. Up until that day, I never knew what happened to Buba. I only knew he passed away. Sitting there as Mba Sako recounted Buba’s last days was emotional for both of us. I was a child when Saikou Badgie and Buba Touray passed away but I can still see their faces in my memories. I am not sure how we prepare ourselves or our children to deal with the bitter sapidity of death but let me confess that I still struggle to deal with the loss of people near and dear to my heart. I am terrible at comforting anyone grieving and even expressing condolences without breaking down is a tough ask of me.
I am not sure why I visited Saikou Badgie’s home but as a friend intimated, perhaps I was still searching for some form of closure. I am not sure what closure I would be seeking but perhaps my friend’s suggestion is what made me feel normal and so I accepted it. I visited Mba Sako because while Buba passed away decades ago, I still retain very fond memories of our childhood days in Bundung. I remember the many days we spent playing along with his brother Abdou. I guess that’s what death does. It has a way of bringing back memories that painfully remind you that you’ll never ever see your loved one on this earth again. Sometimes, it takes an incredible amount of faith to not get angry or see some unfairness in the death of a loved one. I admire most, those who have so much faith and ability to accept the passing of their loved ones as the Will of God. However I dare say that accepting death as the Will of God doesn’t mean the end of grief. Grieving never ends when there is so much to remind you of the loss of your loved one. Perhaps that is why some people try to build new lives, to escape from the painful memories of old lives. As I pray for all the beautiful departed souls, I also pray for those they left behind. I pray for their families to be fortified by Daarmanso and be granted the strength to deal with their loss. May the beautiful memories of our departed loved ones sustain us through the loss.