On May 25th, 2020, I experienced a loss unlike one I had ever known. My aunt was killed at 6:40 AM by an impaired driver on her way to work and passed away, on the scene, when her car caught on fire.
When my mother called to break the news, it was around 2 PM. Her voice mirrored one I heard when my grandparents passed away.
She was crying inconsolably and couldn’t quite make out the words that would test my faith and bring me to my knees.
My mother has loved many people in her life, but the love for her sister is a love of otherworldly proportions. My aunt was not only her big sister but her rock, shield and protector.
“Your aunty Iddy! My sister! My sister is gone!” she cried out through muffled words and a cracked voice marred by grief and anguish. I was in disbelief. Impossible, I thought to myself – Impossible.
“Which aunty Iddy? I’m confused. Who?” I asked, forgetting for a moment that I only had one aunty named Iddy. “My sister, your auntie.”
I gripped my chest in an attempt to balance my weight as the freight train of the words hit me at 100 miles per hour.
“Why her and not me?” was a question I repeatedly asked myself that day until my voice was nothing more than a faint whisper.
My aunt was a woman who valued every moment of the life she was given, and I was someone who often spouted self-deprecating words in anger – if anyone deserved this, surely it was me – I thought to myself. I sat frozen on the floor, back pressed against my living room wall trying to comprehend the incomprehensible.
In five years I’ve lost three family members. Although I’m not a stranger to loss, this one cut in a different kind of way.
When my grandfather died, although it was painful, I was prepared. When my grandmother passed, it rocked me to the core but I could understand it since like my grandfather, she was also older and in poor health.
When my beautiful, loving and kind second mother passed on, this wasn’t a loss I could not grapple with – not one I could find it in my heart to accept.
She wasn’t a woman fighting an incurable disease but a healthy 57-year-old matriarch and the glue that held us all together.
When the person you love is taken so cruelly and unexpectedly, it’s a hurt that doesn’t feel like even time can heal.
After hearing the news, I cried inconsolably for hours. Day turned into night and I woke to salty tear stained sheets.
I cried on my way to the airport, on the plane and in the Uber on my way to grieve with cousins who were mourning the loss of a mother.
Right now, as I’m writing this, it’s 2:49 AM and I’m trying to be strong and all of the things you’re told to be when you lose a loved one.
Although I’m trying, my body and mind have different ideas for how they want me to process this grief.
I want to close my eyes, wake up, and realize that this was all a horrible dream.
I want to go back in time and tell the man who crashed into her car, head-on, that his carelessness act of selfishness is about to shatter not only my life, but the lives of her family and friends.
I want him to make it out of critical care so he can forever live with the pain and grief he forced on me. A pain I didn’t ask for.
My faith tells me to forgive, but today, as pain eats away at my heart and anger consumes my soul, that word is not one I am willing to say.
Forgiveness, if ever, will be what I give on my own terms.
In loving memory of my Aunty Iddy (Cynthia Akamune).
Her Soul Heals – Zainab T Osazin