“Thomas was a loving father. An amazing husband. Someone I believed with all my heart that I’d spend the rest of my days with. From the day he asked me to be his wife, I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the man I’d grow grey hairs with, and it couldn’t be more devastating that our time together is over so soon. Thomas, when I said until death do us part, I didn’t sign up for it happening after just seven years together!”
Her voice calm and composed, Leticia stood before the solemn congregation, reading out her tribute to her departed husband.
At the end, she had decided to go with a pleasant tribute. She had not enjoyed writing it, but freeing her mind wouldn’t have gone down too well with the congregation. And the children had had it hard adjusting to their daddy’s demise; surely a nasty tribute from their mother to him would affect them negatively. So she settled for the good one.
“That week was one of the most unforgettable weeks I had. From discovering my brother had been struck down by stroke, to losing my husband suddenly. Thomas, this was far too soon, and my heart aches like crazy. What wouldn’t I give to have you around, hubby? Our bed feels so empty, your laundry basket untouched. I can’t even bring myself to look at your favourite Arsenal mug, because I’m expecting it to be filled with the black coffee you’d always make before work.”
Looking up briefly, she noted a number of people wiping their eyes and sniffing. That last part of the tribute must have touched them hard. She was living the nightmare many prayed against: losing the love of their life too early.
“But what more can I say?” she continued, as she lowered her eyes and carried on. “This is my new reality. Living without you being the first person to wake up to. Raising our two beautiful little ones without you around. There couldn’t be anything more devastating than this. It’s a nightmare I wish I could wake up from so badly. All I know is that you’ve made your way to one end of the divide, and I’m stuck here, and a vacuum is gonna exist for a long time to come. Nonetheless, I thank God for the times we had, the joy you brought to my life, and how you made me feel as wife, woman and a person. We surely shall meet again one special day, that is my confidence. Sleep well, Thomas, sleep well.”
Concluding her speech, she took her sheet of paper and walked away from the podium to take her seat.
As her father put his arm around her and consoled her, she knew the different thoughts that would be going around the minds of people. With the way she had kept her composure, it was likely some people would see her as a strong woman in control of her emotions. Some silly ones would assume her failure to shed tears made her complicit in his death. As far as both thoughts were concerned, she couldn’t be bothered. The funeral was going according to plan, and that was her only concern.
The church was packed with family, friends and sympathizers, and all the plans for the service had come off without any hitches. From the body being carried to the church auditorium to the laying in state, it had all been done alright. No problems whatsoever. She had often heard of serious fights in the build up to funerals, but there had been very little conflict, and she was grateful for that.
Of course, the laying in state was extremely difficult for her. The last time she saw him alive was when he dropped her off at the station earlier that day she went to attend to Thomas. To see him lying there in a white suit, stiff and still… more than a slap in the face.
As the next group of people made their way to the podium to share their tribute, she sniffed and held tightly to her father.
No doubt about it, for that day, the grief and sadness of losing her spouse had truly taken over.
“O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant Thomas Dawson, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
As the coffin was lowered into the grave, once Reverend Bondzie was done with the prayers, the few mourners who were present at Thomas’ final resting place sobbed and cried, saying their final farewells to Thomas as his body found its way down into the ground.
Leticia, surrounded by her parents who had Samuel and Denise in their arms, simply had more tears spilling from her cheeks as she watched her husband go down.
It was real. It truly was real.
He was gone.
It didn’t just hurt on her part. The sight of his father and uncles and aunties all wailing as they wondered why the one meant to bury them had rather preceded them. It was really painful.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. On a Saturday morning like this, the family should have been chilling. Samuel and Denise should have been having fun with their daddy. Not seeing him lowered into the grave so early.
The mourners cried out to the descending casket, bidding its inhabitant to hear their questions and pleas. Even though her lips were not open, Leticia too wished her husband could hear what was in her heart at that point in time.
How I wish it didn’t end this way. I loved you, Thomas. From the moment you made your way into my heart almost a decade ago, I knew it was my destiny to spend the rest of my life with you. Thomas, we didn’t have a perfect life, but at least we tried. I did what I could. Was I a perfect wife? Of course not. But you can’t deny that I did the necessary as a wife. As to why you did what you did…
She sniffed, squeezing her eyes shut as she gave herself a few seconds to pull herself together. The sounds of digging shovels and dirt hitting the casket filled her ears as she opened her eyes to see the grave diggers already at work.
“It’s time to go, my dear.”
Her mother’s gentle words were followed by a leading away, as she continued to speak to him in her heart.
Why did you give up on us? Why? How could you hate me and hold a grudge after that night? After all the apologies? God, Thomas! I thought we committed to make it through all the tough times. I thought you said it was okay. When it wasn’t. How long were you gonna keep up appearances? Huh? How long were you gonna keep it up? Now look!
Looking back at the grave side, as the diggers busily undertook their duty of covering up, she shook her head as she knew all the words in her heart were nothing more than tennis balls thrown against the wall. They did nothing but return to her. The reasons for giving up on the marriage would never be discovered. And that was that.
All she could possibly do was move on.
The pang of sadness hit her once again, and the tears on her face were suddenly joined by bitter cries.
Crying that the man she thought she’d grow old with had left her too young. Crying that she’d never understand why he threw in the towel the way he did.
“Ssshhhh, shhh, it’s alright, my child, it’s alright,” Mrs. Adjei said calmly as she took her distraught daughter into her arms.
Sigh. Poor Leticia. It’s never easy to deal with the loss of a spouse.