I wanted to whisper that first “I made it” in your ears. I made plans to write this last week when for the first time, my heart finally made sense of the light my eyes caught at that exit sign labelled ‘graduation’. But I got caught up in hysteria of family flying in from all over, final papers to turn in, and exams to study for and well...I choked on guilt.
Sometimes, I cannot help but feel that in some ways, I have betrayed you or at least your memory. I can’t fight the fact that you have become a forgotten memory... a half finished phrase remembered only amidst questions that I ask myself like “who will teach my brother to become a man?”, as I help him knot his tie and smack him for putting his feet in my high heels. And then there are the random moments when fluid memories of you flow through my mind...like when I’m driving home and hear a Kenny G song from that Breathless album you loved. Most of the times though, I regret the fact that I do not remember you . . . that I made peace with your parting way to quickly and freely . . . that the fragments left of you in my spirit are images of sickness and vomit, of frailness and hairlessness.
I wake up some mornings wondering if some parts of me will forever be lost with
the parts of you I buried...
But last week, I received a graduation gift that I will forever cherish. A college friend of yours gave me pictures of you in your judo uniform from your martial arts days. And for the first time in a long time, I remembered you. I remembered you strong. Remembered you proud and beaming at PTA meetings and prize giving days. It made me hope that God parted the clouds and allowed you to see me walk across the stage at your Alma mater and receive my B.A. - Summa Cum Laude. But most of all, I hope you saw all of your friends who came for my graduation-from Abuja to Atlanta and from Dallas to D.C. As much as I would like to pretend that they all came for me, I know that most of them came because they felt they owed it to you and because in one way or another, you had touched their lives. Someone told me last week, “your father always told me I would make it...even when I didn’t believe it.”
As the future curves before me like a question mark, forcing me to make important decisions (like deciding between going to law School in D.C. or N.Y.?!); I hope that at the end of the day, I can become half of the person you were. Just like you, I want to be known and remembered as kind, forgiving and focused. Maybe even revolutionary.
Until then, I wanted to send a ray of sunshine your way and let you know-I MADE IT.