I apologize from the very bottom of my heart!
2015 was, what I will describe as a very eclectic year for me. It was a year filled with extreme highs together, with some extreme lows. It was a year with some very interesting in-betweens, euphoric moments and personal tragedy. Resulting from the mish-mash of experiences I had, I made myself take an inner look of who I was. In doing that, I stripped all the layers that came with the person I have become. Some of the aspects I concentrated on were my faults and the regrets that came with it.
One of my biggest regrets is being the quintessential Ostrich that buries her head in the sand while the tragic and chaotic aspects of life reverberate around me to my outlandish abandon. That aspect of life that I concentrated on happens to be the only guarantee that every living person and thing has. It is death. “Yes, death!”
I am so frightened of confronting death; not mine but other people’s death. I have never been afraid of my death, but the death of a loved one scares the living daylights out of me. And to watch a loved one go through the pain of someone else’s death has always been very difficult for me to confront or accept. In my mind, I tend to block it out; almost convince myself that it never happened.
Let me explain…
This very bizarre trait of not having the ability to confront a loved one who has been bereaved is one I have carried since childhood. When I love a person so much, and they experience the death of their loved one, it has always been very difficult for me to console them because I know that they are in so much pain. And it hurts me immensely to see their pain. Blocking out the bereavement of my loved one is a sort of defense mechanism I use. It’s a kind of denial that the dead person connected to my loved one isn’t really dead. I have been doing that for years, refusing to acknowledge certain deaths because if I do, then the death would be true.
I have always justified this behavior as an act of selflessness because by not speaking to my loved one about a death that hurt them so, I was somehow protecting them. Upon reflection, I now know this to be the act of utmost cowardice and selfishness. Yes, the selfish actions of a coward, who is merely trying to defend her emotions rather than the feelings of her loved ones; an act of someone in dire denial.
I’ve come to accept that self-justification garbles reality. The more I have used it in this instance, the more I have created a mental alternate universe for myself that makes it alright not to face those I love when they are bereaved. Self-justification can be a stony, cruel relationship exterminator, which has caused me to deny my loved ones their right to have a much-needed and deserved condolence at the time that they were bereaved.
It was the self-justification that I used, which lead me to a point of a decreased ability to make a good choice about condolence. One instance of self-justification precipitates another, creating a domino effect that has sent me off track as far as condolence is involved. Once I was able to justify not facing one bereaved loved one, I justified others after it and got deeper into it. Now I have a string of loved ones who have not had my support at the time they needed me most. I was off burying my head in the sand, as oft I do, as far as bereavement goes. And to halt the discord I felt, I made decisions that dug my head further into that sand and me even further into my self-denial. And the cycle continued.
As my eclectic 2015 comes to an end, I would like to assess my actions and determine my responsibility for those actions and their consequences. By embracing cowardice, being selfish and not being there fully for my loved ones in their bereavement, I will acknowledge my fault, be regretful of it, take full responsibility to correct it and I will use this medium to begin the journey of fixing my awful mistake.
The first apology has to go to the family of my late beloved Nanny, Hajiya Wowo. Over a decade ago, a very dear, lifelong friend of my family, a lady who was served as my Mothers’ nanny, my nanny and my daughters’ nanny passed away. The late Hajiya Wowo was a woman that I knew all my life and adored immensely. But since her passing, I have been unable to face her family, much less console them. I have sent them gifts and greetings through third parties. I even traveled to Katsina on numerous occasions to see the family. But each time I drive to their houses, I am literally unable to physically go in the house to console them. I just can’t imagine the pain that they went through, and I have an ardent fear of seeing and feeling their pain. So I walked away.
Another instance is the passing of another dear family friend, Mr, Okadigbo. He was a father figure, who was extremely close to my father and family; a man that I loved dearly and looked up to. Growing up, my family and that of Mr. Okadigbo’s were neighbors. He had children that were roughly the same age as several members of my family, so we became extremely close to them and hung out together. I was especially close to his daughters Barbra and Michaela. But since Mr. Okadigbo passed, every member of my family has reached out to them, apart from me! I have found it impossible to face Barbra or Michaela to speak of their fathers’ death. Even during the times, we agreed to see one another, I have always found an excuse to avoid meeting up with them and looking into their faces. I feel, it’s almost by not speaking about him, in my mind, he is still alive somewhere.
Not too long ago, I learnt of the passing of one of my best friend’s father. Bilkisu Abdu and I were like twins joined at the hip while we were in Secondary School. I love Bilkisu and her family so much, and her mother has always been a source of inspiration to me of what an educated and strong woman looks like. Bilkisu’s father passed a couple of years ago, and while Bilkisu and I have spoken and I have consoled her, I have been unable to bring myself to go to her family house and formally give my condolence. I’ve driven up there a couple of times but was too much of a selfish coward to go in. I just cant imagine the pain of going into the house and not seeing Bilkisu’s father, who was such a presence when we were young. And, as a result, I have unfinished business with one of my best friend’s, Bilkisu Abdu, and her family.
Recently, I bumped into another friend and classmate from Secondary School, who told me that her mother had passed away. Fati Abbass was the girl everybody wanted to be when we were in Secondary School, and I had a really good relationship with her. She came from a small family who were incredibly close. I promised her that I would go to the family house and officially console them. It was a promise, which I didn’t keep. It was not because I didn’t want to. It was because I was trying to avoid the pain that her family must still be going through at the loss of their beloved Matriarch. By not going to the family house, I’ve not completed my duty to my friend, Fati Abbass.
Another very best friend that I had in school was Maureen Okogwu. To me, growing up, Maureen was perfect. And she still is! I recently learnt that her mother, Aunty Rose, passed away. Apart from my close relationship with Maureen and her sister Becky, I had a good one with their mother. I simply adored Aunty Rose and was always elated when I saw her. Learning of her death was devastating to me. I don’t even know how to couch the words to console Maureen, Becky, Chris or Elizabeth at the passing of Aunty Rose, who was my quintessential woman of substance. In giving in to my cowardice and selfishness, I have failed the Okogwu’s. It is a failure that I must correct with two of the people I love and cherish so much, Maureen and Becky Okogwu.
One of the incidents that continue to haunt me is not consoling one of the most humble, pious, virtuous and kind families I know, the Dahiru’s. The family lost an in law a couple of years ago when the only son, Baba Dahiru’s wife passed during childbirth. I cannot say enough positive things about the whole Dahiru family, from the parents to the children, Charo, Baba, Hajati and Asma’u. They are an amazing group of people with integrity, humility, virtue, kindness, and fear of God. I’m blessed to be associated with them. Mohammed Dahiru, the bereaved, is among the strongest and virtuous people that I personally know. Aisha Atta (nee Dahiru), also known as Charo has one of the most purest souls and heart that I have ever come across. She does everything for everyone and is incredibly kind to a fault. Apart from being my older sisters best friend, she is also a mentor for my daughter, who adores her to an extreme. Having driven up to the family house numerous times and parked outside before driving away, the selfish coward in me has been unable to console the family on the passing of Baba’s wife. It is not because I don’t love them but because I love them so much and find it difficult to be confronted with their pain. Giving the Dahiru family their right to have my physical and verbal condolence is one of the duties I must get right as long as I live
Those who are very close to me know that my very best friend is Maryam Sambawa (nee Kangiwa). Maryam recently lost her former husband, who is also the father of her two older children. Maryam has always been there for me, and the thought that she would go through bereavement, without me being there for her every step of the way is unacceptable! But the truth is, I don’t know how to deal with the prospect of seeing Maryam and her children in pain. I love her and her family too much. Maryam is one of the best and kind-hearted people I know, and she deserves to have the support of her friend during her bereavement. Everytime I pick up the phone to call her; I drop it because I don’t know what to say to her. There cannot be a more selfish and cowardly act than that. I have to garner up the courage to see and console my friend, Maryam, a woman that I love so deeply and the best friend that anyone could ever ask for.
I once read a quote by Thomas Carlyle, where he said that “The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.” Thank Goodness I am conscious of the fact that I have such a huge fault. While I know that it is impossible to be totally aware of all of my self-justification blind spots, I am conscious enough to identify this as one of my greater faults. And what a huge fault it is!
It is a fault, which I hope to leave behind in 2015 in order to better myself as a person going into the future. Going forward, I take ownership of my mistake and will strive to locate that dissension indicator amongst the self-justification lullaby and then tune in and hold it there. Moving on to 2016, I choose to extricate myself from a fetal position of regret as far as hiding my head in the sand where the bereavement of my loved ones are concerned. My actions can no longer be about a cowardly act of my inability to face my loved ones in times of bereavement. With God’s Will, I go forward with a resolve to cultivate a greater awareness and ownership of that mistake.
When we were young, we were taught to apologize when we do something wrong or when we misbehave. But, as we grow older, those apologies often become more conceptualized, more defensive and less an acceptance of responsibility. I accept the responsibility of my cowardly and selfish mistake
By God’s Grace, in the coming weeks, I will be a very busy woman, making right, that which I made wrong. By His Grace, I shall be visiting the families of, Hajiya Wowo, the Okadigbo’s, Bilkisu Abdu, Fati Abbass, Maureen and Becky Okogwu, the Dahiru’s and my beloved Maryam Kangiwa, to do that, which I should have done at the time that it needed to be done.
I apologize from the very bottom of my heart!
Article Written by Hannatu Musawa
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