Time flies. One moment you have a husband, the next you only have his empty clothes. His favourite polo shirts, tens of them, laundered, folded away, their sleeves never to be filled by the arms of the man you loved. The numerous framed paintings he cherished & some he personally painted, echo against your walls of grief. The paint on the canvas is long dried, but you can almost smell them & his strokes that eventually turned them into art. You often roam about this big new home, trapped in sorrow, like an orphaned sparrow, trying to find your way out of the treacherous maze of loss. Your very bones miss how he smelled ("soft, clean & comforting"). His laughter, gone with yours. And for the longest time when you smiled, it felt like you were wearing someone else’s face.
You are a widow before you are 40.
"Bob traveled a lot in his life and the anxiety of going on a trip was increased by the fact that he had to pack." Wambui Collymore, says. "Weeks before he died, when he knew the end was near, we often talked about death & this day he said, ‘you know, this feels like I’m going somewhere but without having to worry about packing."
We’re seated in the lush garden of her new home, under the shade of a palm tree that seemed to have nursed, all its life, a secret ambition to be a baobab tree. A tree living a lie. Leg elegantly crossed, under the dark bloom of sadness, she takes me to Bob’s final moment in that comfortable room where the children had said bye & the home nurses stood by waiting & she was waiting, while jazz music dripped in the room as his own life trickled.
It’s gruesome to talk about it as it is to hear. But what beatific grace she grieves in, what pedigree of agony. At the end she reads to me a passage from her favourite book; The Prophet by Kahil Gibran, then a quirky & dark children’s book- "Duck Death and The Tulip" by Wolf Elbruch where a duck converses with death. She sighs & says, "Death does not bring about death. Life does. You can’t die if you are already dead but you will die if you are living."
Bob died a year ago yesterday.
Read about my interview with her in the Business Daily tomorrow.