No.149: Sleep Well Uncle Dapo.
It's one thing to know what death is in theory.
It's another thing to understand it,
to be woken rudely, passionately, with necessity
in the middle of the night
by your mother's emboldened cry,
to chew on a mix of joy and grief
like a sweet and sour piece of a much larger story.
This is a first for me.
I've held others with this pain,
I've paid condolences, taking for granted the price,
I was beginning to think I was exempt
from the most inevitable event in life.
It didn't even process the first time.
I grumpily went back to sleep.
But I felt the faint tug on my spirit,
this world is no longer what it used to be.
Some people die
and celebrations flood the streets, the news, the history books.
But some people live well, love you,
and pass on quietly.
My body is jolting back and forth between realities,
between this curious novelty in my brain
and the tears banging loudly on the back of my eyes.
It's already clear to me
that I don't know how to process grief.
But what I do know, Uncle Dapo,
is that for two years, you took care of me.
You were the gentlest part of those turbulent memories,
yours was the only voice I gladly submitted to with humility,
even when you were mad at me,
even when I couldn't stand the rest of your family.
For two years, I had a father who loved me
less with his words
and more with his actions.
I still remember the boxes of Cheerios and the Skippy peanut butter jars
you spent all night hunting for
to make us unruly American kids feel at home,
I was too young to understand the depth of such a quiet love.
I'ma stop this poem now
because my eyes are getting real blurry
and my throat is getting tighter,
but I thank Elohim for you uncle,
I'm honored to have been your son.
I know you are home now,
your pain has finally stopped.
Rest in power and glory,
and know that you have always been loved.