Friday 4th September 2015, 08:30 pm. She shuddered and expired. Heaven could not wait.
My eyelids turned lead heavy, my heart hollow and my blood felt like acid. Grandmother was gone.
She had certainly been at death’s door for some months but I was not ready for that moment. Nobody is ever ready for mortality.
My Dana was larger than life. She She was beyond love. She was ahead of her time yet still on time. She had a demure demeanour that lit up a room. She was always wreathed in smiles. She had the most beautiful wrinkles when she smiled, as if her face was the map of her life; her whole face radiated beams of light at just one grin! She was beauty and everything that pertains to it.
Laced with self-consciousness, intuition, veracity, willpower, tenacity, grit and love. A senior citizen and your typical African (great)grand(mother), and as such, had some of the obligatory traits — spontaneous deafness, an unerring ability to stand right in the way and a bat-like sonar system that allows her to shout your name at the top of her lungs when you left one dish undone but stand ten toes down when she herself did that.
She typified love and affection. Authentic love and affection. A birth giver to stars. A magic maker. She had children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who would keep her on her toes; a wild ride to places she’d only see on telly. But I saw something striking in her liquid eyes, something that guided me from the moment I met her — her unflappable philosophy that whatever came her way she’d manage. And because she’d manage, we would, too.
Her relationship with God was a very skyward and personal one. She regarded Him as a friend. My own journey has been perhaps convoluted, my image of Divinity has somewhat shifted from that childhood vision (I believe due to my struggle with mood disorder), but the simplicity of those prayers remain! And so does something she told me when I asked her where God lived. She smiled at me very broadly and replied with a laid-back tone but somewhat cogent force, “In your heart.”
In her demise, I learnt that when the sled of death launches on you, when you watch the casket close on your loved one, it somersaults your mind forever. It brashly disrupts your mental, emotional and physical equilibrium. It brazenly reminds you of the frailty and fickleness of existence. Realisation dawns on you how terrible it is to love something that death can touch. I still hear the sound of her laughter under the starry sky in the middle of June, I still see her snow white teeth and her beautiful wrinkly cheeks traced with tiny spider veins, I still find bits and pieces of her in my musings and I still hold random conversations with her in my head 4 years after her passing, religiously. I still reminisce on everything.
I have learnt that there is no sanctuary for death; no respite, no silk cocoon you can wrap yourself to avoid it. Death is life and life is death and therein lies the metamorphoses, for both change and death are inevitable. Death can come fragrant as a dozen roses tied in silk ribbon, or it can slither in on the belly of a snake waiting for the right moment to strike or it can wrap itself around, throttling your breath from you. Death is the cold cup of coffee you never finish as you write your last words.
I think what puts us on edge regarding death no matter how familiar we think we have become, is its finality, surreal because there is no grand finale, no crescendo that can lead up to the moment.
Here’s also to my other Dana, my maternal forebear, woman of statuesque beauty, exquisite strength, precision, courage and love. She was as alpha as they come. Strict, advocative and now peaceful and free as a dove. She gained her heavenly wings earlier on that February.
Death should die too.