Friday, December 14, 2007

Beauty For Ashes...

10.12.2007: My childhood friend and a former schoolmate, Tanwa, died today. I’m still in shock as I write this because it feels unreal that she really isn’t here anymore. When things like this happen, it makes me realize how I still find it difficult to grasp and understand the concept of death and that it is a passage that takes you away from your loved ones forever – in the earthly sense of the word. She was only 32 and left behind a beautiful 4-year old girl.

Flashbacks: The last time I saw her was back in January. She’d come to my house in Lagos with her daughter, Ella, to say hello. Before that, we’d spoken on the phone a number of times. We bantered back and forth for a bit, talked careers and caught up generally. It was the first time in quite a few years that Tanwa and I had spent anytime one on one. She looked fine; great in fact. She had on her signature long mid-back length tiny braids. It didn’t (as it usually doesn’t) occur to me that that would be the very last time I would ever see her again.

Flashback Two: I remember another conversation we’d had on the phone in the late summer of 2006. I was in London staying at our mutual friend’s, Funmi – another childhood friend and grew up together with. Before that, I hadn’t really spoken to Tanwa much over the preceding years. To be honest, I was kind of upset with her. I don’t remember exactly why anymore. But Funmi, as always, served as an intermediary and had mentioned to her that I wasn’t happy with her. So she asked Funmi to let her know when I arrive, that she would like to speak to me on the phone (she was still in Ireland at the time). So Tanwa called, Funmi handed the phone to me and she said to me (I’ll never forget), “Oremi, joo, ma binu si mi” – translation: “my friend, please don’t be upset with me”. I was totally disarmed by that as I didn’t quite know what to expect after not having spoken in quite some time. Ofcourse I relented and we squashed the beef there and then. The few times I saw and spoke to her after that, she would repeat it to me again, “oremi, joo, ma binu”. And I had to keep telling her that we were cool. I had looked forward to re-building our friendship, especially since she’d moved back to Lagos from Ireland and we would once again be in close proximity since we were both in the same vicinity again. I had also visualized it would be easier; so much had happened to us as individuals over the years and so much had changed. In her case, she was now a mother and a young woman coming into her own. In my case, I had matured a bit more over the years, on a continous journey of trying to be more patient, less feisty and learning that it’s the smaller things in life that matter the most.

She’d been sick since April and she succumbed to that illness today. She’d been between Ireland and the UK for treatment and I kept meaning to make the time to go and see her. But that’s the thing you see, time had other plans and couldn’t wait for me.

I’m so very sorry Tanwa, for not making more of an effort to come and see you while you were sick. You were in my prayers everyday, and I was so sure, on your behalf, that you would fight and overcome it. I was so sure. I spoke to Funmi every other week, staying abreast on your wellbeing and I believed in my heart that I would see you soon. I truly can’t believe you’re gone. But I know you’re in a better place; free of pain and full of peace. My memories of you are strong and vivid: that big smile and your very loud laugh....I promise, with Funmi and with everyone else that loved you so much, to help take care of Ella, and to help to make sure that she grows into the kind of woman that will one day make you proud. Beautiful, joyful, strong, accomplished. All the grand plans you had for her do not and will not have to change.

It’s my turn to beg you Tanwa. Oremi, joo, ma binu si mi. Sun Re O.


abby MD,USA said...

I really understand how you feel on the loss of someone so dear to you. Its a good thing that you both were able to settle the scores before she passed. I just came across your blog for the forst time and I know Tanwa very well so i can truly relate to you on her personality. May her gentle soul rest in peace!!! I know that Ella will be taken care of!!!

Anonymous said...

While death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal. I'm glad you gave her a chance to say sorry. That is so Tanwa, she does not want anyone to be upset with her. She lived life freely and loved deeply. With teary eyes I write this as she is being laid to rest this very moment thousands of a miles away in Ireland.

Next time, we all say next time
... Say I love you this time
... Say I'm sorry this time
... Tomorrow is never promised
... Today must be cherished cause this time might be the last time, no next time.

We miss you Tanwa, your memories will be cherished forever.


w2b said...

so sorry about this....

Baba said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jide Onakoya said...

I first learnt of her ill health through my cousin who is also Tanwa's cousin some months ago. Although Tanwa and I never really hung out...(except for when we were kids in Ikorodu back in the day)...I have always known her as a warm and caring person.

I feel the loss of your dear friend...and your warm write-up of your last few conversations is very appropriate. She is definitively in a better place...and will rest well knowing that her daughter will have such wonderful friends to tell her about her mom.

Rest In Peace Tanwa.