Have you ever had a day that means two things to you? Like the day you finally got a bicycle is the day you broke your leg or the day you were born is the day your dad died. Or the day you got a promotion at work is the day your house burnt down, or the day you got your retirement is the day you discovered you had an aggressive form of cancer. Maybe your dad got a stroke at your wedding or your best friend drowned at your birthday beach party. Or your spouse died on Valentine’s day or your son went missing on Christmas day and you never found him. Or your last living parent died on the day of your convocation. So how do you feel on this day? Are you supposed to be happy or sad?
I ask myself these every year when my birthday comes up. It’s like a reminder that I have lived one more year without my husband. I can remember the year he died, he rushed off to work as usual. I had a nightmare but I didn’t get a chance to tell him so I just prayed and let it go. No stupid nightmare was going to spoil my day I got up, got dressed in my birthday suit, did the most beautiful makeup I could that morning. Called the confectionery to make sure everything was going fine with the cake order. I called my friends to make sure everyone was clear on the events for the day. I got to work and checked with my staff to be sure everything was fine. And nothing was out of place. I called my children to make sure everything was going fine for them at school and to remind them to be home by evening so we will celebrate. So everything was going perfectly as planned so what was the point of the nightmare? I prayed again anyway. Then I called my husband, he was in his car on the way to the airport, he had a job to do that day in another state. I prayed for him as usual “Make sure you’re back in time for the party” I told him.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world dear, just wait till you see your birthday present,” that’s the last thing I heard him say. There was this loud noise, I heard him shout something, the call got disconnected. I got worried so I called back immediately and his phone was switched off. I called his two other phones but they were switched off as well. I called his driver’s phone, switched off too. What was happening? I called everybody at his work place, they said they will trying reaching him. I waited impatiently, nobody called back I picked my car keys and drove off to his office. I needed answers and apparently nobody was going to tell me anything if I didn’t meet them. When I got to his office, I asked for his PA, I was told he just left to do some work. “I’ll wait for him then,” I replied. 5pm saw me at home with all my friends, staff, children already getting on with the birthday party plans. I broke down in tears when I saw them. Temi was involved in a fatal car crash that morning. They called his office and his PA had to go identify his body at the mortuary. At that moment all i could do was hold my kids tight and cry. I couldn’t hear a thing anyone was saying. I don’t know when I passed out. When I opened my eyes at about 9pm, I decided to call Temi to check on him and make sure he would get back home before 12am tonight and also to ask what he wanted for dinner. His phone was switched off, then I remembered the nightmare that was my birthday. I screamed then, so loudly my family rushed in, I still have no memory of how the rest of the night went.
So now every year my kids get me a cake and birthday presents. They try to cheer me up. “Mum you have to promise us that you won’t think of dad today,” I will nod and smile. But what sort of person would I be if I didn’t remember Temi? So my question is, “Am I supposed to be happy on my birthday? Do I have the right to be happy? How am I supposed to feel? Is my birthday still supposed to be a good day for me? Is it my birthday or Temi’s remembrance?” To be honest, every time I go to bed on the 11th of June, I silently hope not to wake up the next morning but for my children but then I never know what to do or how to feel, I wish the day could be taken off the calendar.
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