Fiction

Rachael Aiyke: Grief; Quiet & Heavy

grief
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

It hits differently when you know you’ll never see them again. When all has come and gone and it’s still you at the mercy of your feelings. Trapped in a cage. There’s no escape. No escape from the things you feel, which you don’t want to, and the things your head keeps churning out to you on nights your anxiety wakes you up. Nights you can’t sleep.

It’s like every time life took someone from you all over again. It’s every time you go down on your knees, the words “Why? Why? Why?” on your lips. It’s like grief. Strong grief that doesn’t allow for anything else to penetrate. It is grief.

I’ve had to check for the meaning of grief countless times in the past months. Turning pages, lost in the flow of now as I sit, glued in front of my computer, searching for answers.

I’ve come to understand that it’s the unanswered questions that leave us shattered. The whys.

I still wait for you by the railway station at 6 pm every day in hopes that you’d one day find your way back home. No one dies that way; decides to walk away and keep walking.

It’s been years, and I still sit by the telephone at noon, waiting for the call that never comes. Hoping it comes one day, so each time the shrill ringing tone goes off, I excitedly ask, “Kedụ, baby m?” But the person at the other end doesn’t understand; they just need to pass a message.

Remember how we used to talk during your lunch breaks because I was usually busy at night and you were busy during the day? Some days I slip and plan our time in my to-do list. Our time.

People ask me to heal, to move on, to stop moping around like a mad woman with my scattered hair. They say I should be putting on black and shutting myself indoors. Do you hear that? They’re talking to me, baby, and I don’t want to reply. I don’t have the strength.

Some days it’s so hard to breathe that I feel like drowning in the pool. At least that way I’ll feel myself struggling to live and not being nonchalant. That way my body would fight—it’s been so long.

I always thought it was absurd how people wrote about heartbreak or grief. They took the words and strung them into a personal tale, explaining how it feels. You break and you can still spurt? That’s awesome.

I’m here now, writing about you. Because even after all this while, I don’t know what happened. Some days I ask myself if I could have done better. More effort, more patience, or whatever. Maybe trusted the universe since stories have it that the universe brings all things to fruition in its time.

My heart has been broken into so many pieces I can’t even begin to fit together, and it doesn’t hurt. It’s numb.

I am in the ocean again, and I know I’ll laugh about it soon. But I want to laugh about it with you. I want to tell you how I’ve been quiet these past months because nothing feels worth it anymore.

Some days, I don’t want the world to keep moving when things happen. I want time to stop. I want the world to understand that some losses cannot be moved away from—at least not immediately.

I still stop some days, you know. The world stops in my heart and head and I burrow under my blanket and cry. I don’t want to move on. I want to keep holding on, I swear, but some days I have to go on even if I don’t want to.

I have to talk. And smile. And laugh. And then it all gets better, but I know it’s just for a while. Even the thought of that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it—sometimes.

I want to tell you that I’ve understood more this year about life than I ever have, and I know now that silence is an expression. Because when words can’t even begin to explain how it is, silence should.

Is this what it feels like to love someone? I don’t know. I don’t even know anything anymore. I hope you’ll come back. I wish it’ll be the same again; or even better.

I wonder, when you lose people this much at this young age, what happens when you grow old? When all the people you’ve come to know are dead? Buried? Forgotten? Moved on? A new life that you’re not part of?

Flash. The sleepovers and talks. Flash. The laughter. Flash. You and him at the cinema. Flash. You and her at the bus stop, smiling into each other’s eyes before the bus that takes your forever comes. Flash. You in their arms. Flash. The promises. Flash. The dreams. Flash. The inside jokes. Flash. Flash. Flash. You’re here now, fucking here now, and it’s never the same again. Nothing is ever the same again.

Someone asked me what the most spectacular thing about love is. I said, “It’s how we keep holding on when every other thing says to let go. How we keep fighting for what was and sometimes never acknowledge what is.”

It’s how I still wait for your call, how I still wait by the railway station for you, and how I still miss you in winter. When the leaves fall away and there’s a lightness in the air, I stand outside and feel you wrap yourself over me. It’s how I know you’re still here. It’s the only time I feel I’ve not lost you.

It’s how I hear your accent in every song, and how I now see the world through your lenses. I swear, it’s beautiful being you in the little way I can be. No wonder you were so happy.

But then, the colors come and go. And they’re blinding when they stay: the colors in your world. I find it sad, you know, how such beauty only makes me think of what is lost and never what could be found.

It’s sad how there were only colors in your world like you knew you would be staying for only a short while and depth made no sense. It was colors with you, baby m. No depth, just colors.

The most spectacular thing about love and grief is how we keep losing and still keep yearning and all the loss keeps piling in our hearts until we’re just here. Walking zombies going through the motion. It’s how we give, give, give until there’s nothing left of us to give anymore. Until every tiny drop has been squeezed and we’re empty. A blank canvas.

People say you could always start drawing something else. But when you’ve been robbed of everything that makes you human, everything that makes your eyes spark and your heart sing, everything that makes you want to wake up every morning, and you don’t know who you are anymore, what do you do?

Riderek said we never had the time, but we’ll love again in a place where clocks don’t tick, and I’m holding on to that. That’s hope for me; the only thing I’ve got.

Grief is when you know that nothing you do now can bring back all you’ve lost. It’s how you crave for a little more time, a second chance, something that keeps you from losing like a loser every fucking time.

Love and grief, interwoven. It’s how you keep holding on to everything you’ve lost so you use it as a yardstick to measure everything new that’s coming into your life. And as J.P. Clark said, it’s how you become the casualty again and again.

So now, every time my heart aches I know it’s an echo of the grief inside and that even if the grief is unending, the ache is fleeting. I’ll breathe soon. And every time I feel my chest become heavy, I know it’s the sadness finding an escape.

I hope everything gets better. And by better, I mean you and me. Because better wouldn’t be better without you. For now. But I understand that this is life, and we don’t always get what we want. And it’s fine.

I want to breathe, too, you know? I want to breathe.
——–

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

About the author

Rachael Aiyke

Rachael Aiyke is a Nigerian-bred art enthusiast who lives in Lagos. All her life, she has strived and is striving to find a home. When she's not writing or making PowerPoint plans, she's eating biscuits and thinking of how to get man. She can be reached on Facebook: Rachael Aiyke, Twitter: @rachaiyke, and Instagram: @therealaiyke.

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  • This is really a deep piece about love and grief — the effects both has over anyone that comes in contact with either both or one.
    Love is beautiful. Love is sweet. But no one tells us that one day that beauty will fade away beyond our rational. No tells us that love can be bitter or worse when grief comes in.
    And grief —– this is just one thing that doesn’t go with time. Yes. People say move on. But how can you move on when the memories of that person still has a strong hold on you? How can you move on when literally everything all around you brings back memories? How can you move on when, at the end of the day, you’re greeted by the harsh reality that finally you’re alone again and, will be that way for a very long time? When you’re reminded that you’ve lost something that you’ll never regain? Ever?
    The painful thing about love is the attachment you’ve towards that individual and how this solidifies when that person is no more…and that’s when grief comes in to chew—– the emptiness never seem to go away. A hole that gets bigger and darker every passing seconds…
    Nice piece 👏

  • Rachael.
    I feel shaken reading this. I always do whenever I read your writings.

    …she’s still striving to find a home.
    I hope you find one, soon. And happiness. And peace.

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