The BIG RED BOAT carnival cruise was the most fun I had ever had. The boat was huge and I had my favorite cousins, Nikki, Marco and ‘The Augusta Kids’ (Raina, Alexis, Sasha) there to entertain me. For more days than I can remember (5 year olds have no sense of time) we vacationed. We would dock and I along with the other tourist would see women dressed in traditional carnival costumes full of color showing a lot of skin. After hours of exploring the island it was time for us to get back on the boat. My cousins and I treated the boat like our personal playground. We usually played well together; until that time I slammed my little cousin Marcos hand in the door. We all got in trouble and his older sister Nikki promised me ‘ten knuckle sandwiches’ in her toughest 6-year-old voice.
Nothing would’ve made this trip any better unless had my mom been able to come. We left her back in Augusta. She had been fighting a ‘
cold‘ for almost a year. (I remember the day the doctor told her.) So she couldn’t come because she was too sick. She told me to have a great time and she would be there when we got back. I was looking forward to telling my mom about my trip. I had saved little items to give her from the boat and our many docking points. When we got back to the house I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough to see my mommy. When I got to my mom’s side of the townhouse the room was dark. I turned on the light to see an empty bed and an incomplete puzzle. She LOVED puzzles so I assumed she was nearby. I called for her. I called for her again and again…She didn’t answer.
When we pulled up to the building I was in a horrible mood. My aunt made me wear this uncomfortable prissy dress, with itchy white tights and these tight shiny black shoes. I didn’t even know where we were going but I knew I didn’t want to be there. We walk into a large room full of people I didn’t recognize. There were chairs on both sides and a long aisle down the middle.
Everyone looked so sad. Everyone was crying. Everyone immediately stared at me. I began walking down the aisle and their eyes followed. When I looked straight ahead I saw a picture of my mom sitting on a table with a white table-cloth. Then, I saw my dad. I sat in his lap and he hugged me tight. I didn’t understand what was going on. I asked him where was my mom and his response made my whole body warm and my stomach knot up.
The tears rushed my face. I didn’t want to be there. If I wasn’t there then it wasn’t real. I suddenly got up and RAN towards the door. Everyone stood up and my dad ran behind me as did my moms sisters. Before I got to the door my dad caught me by the arm. My aunt grabbed my other arm and a tug of war ensued with me in the middle. My dad pulled me one way my aunt pulled me the other as they yelled at each other. Everyone looked on as I screamed and cried. This went on for what seemed an eternity…Finally my dad let go.
Everyone’s needs came before mine that day. No one prepared me for that day.
…How do you prepare? How do you tell a child their mother is gone, forever?
My mother was gone. I didn’t get to say goodbye.
My childhood was gone. I couldn’t get that back. There were so many questions that would forever be unanswered. There is little peace in the unknown.
Dear Mama.……I hope you are proud. I hope you know how much I miss you. I hope you know the pain never goes away. For a long time I felt like I had nothing when you left….BUT that isn’t true………….I have pictures and memories-good ones. I have your bad vision LOL (I can’t see without glasses and contacts), I have your laugh. I have your smile. I have my son who is just as brilliant as you were I have my daughter who I named after you- Ntianu. I have YOU.
In loving memory of my mother Pauline Ntianu Nzeribe (June 1963-December 1994)
January 28, 1994 ( my 5th Birthday)