I wonder what your smile would be like. I only remember you on photos. I can say confidently that you were such a beautiful woman. Many times I try to ask questions of who you were. I remember closing my eyes and imagining you smiling. That was when I was a little girl, too timid to ask why my birth certificate had a different name in place of mother’s name.
Life has taught me to ask questions and be bold enough to air my views. I hope it is not too late for me. Even writing this letter is a step toward breaking the shackles I have lived under for years. I was taught for years that talking to the dead was evil, so I resisted the urge to write you letters. I must confess it is not very easy for me, even as I write this, tears are actually flowing down my cheeks.
Oh, how I miss you. Just the other day, did I learn of your untimely death at 29 years. You died when I was 7 years old, yet I never knew you. I have many other questions that I seek answers to. I hope I’ll piece all pieces of this puzzle someday. Sometimes I just want to talk to you, ask you these questions, share my frustrations and joys, have you see me through my triumphs.
Speaking of which, do you know I once experienced motherhood? How I miss little David kicking in my belly. I was really naïve; I couldn’t tell that I was in labor. I ended up giving birth outside on our way to hospital. Little David, oh! He coughed due to the cold of the night that welcomed him to this world. I wished mama was there as nurse Aggie. Maybe you would have taken good care of this ignorant teenager who had just had a baby in the cold. I remember seeing his beautiful face and whispering to him, “You are Aggie’s grandchild, you know?”
You left me with a mother. She did her best to raise me into the woman that I am today. She raised me like her own, not mentioning your memories. You were a secret in our house. That is why I couldn’t ask questions about you. When I was pregnant, I became so close to mom Rose.
Even through the hurdles that life has dealt us, I still go to mum Rose for advice. She is the one who stood by me when little David decided to follow you. It was such a heart wrenching moment that I am yet to recover from 13 years later. Anyway, I have my 13-year-old niece to give me a smile. While we were burying little David, my sister Sellah was in hospital, giving birth to Beryl. Sellah now has three children you know?
I have a friend whose name reminds me of you. She is Agnes Obutu. She was my high school teacher. She welcomed me to live with her family when I was doing my KCSE. She is a mother to a boy living with autism. She has three boys. This woman is one of my mothers. Even though I went silent on her when I discovered I was pregnant, she did not judge me when she finally knew my story. She is one of the people pushing me to write a memoir. Someday I will.
Mom, I know you were a learned woman. You would have loved me to be as learned, yet you were not here to educate me. Mom Tamar Abrams took that up. She fund-raised for my diploma education and sent me to university. This is despite her having her own Hannah Lily, who she had through IVF. I respected her more when I read the story she wrote. Hannah is a beautiful young lady whom I have been friends with and hope to meet someday. Tamar has such a big heart for children. She is in fact a foster mother to many.
There is Elaine Wilson who is not yet a mother. She took over paying my school fees through undergraduate. Even now, she writes me messages. “Are you ok? How is your health? This is despite her being just a year older than me. What can you call such a friend? I simply call her Rafiki- My Canadian friend. I am sure she will be a phenomenal mom.
Mom, there are friends who have lost babies that remind me of the pain I went through. Sometimes I lack words to comfort them. These are times when I just go and cry together with them. Last month, we went to Langatta Cemetary to burry Edwina’s two-year-old Gabriel. I remember telling her that she was still a mum. She asked me, tears in her eyes, “Whose mom?”
I can’t forget the mothers who have carried their babies, felt them kicking, experienced morning sickness, gained weight, only to lose their unborn babies, either pre-term, or when giving birth.
This reminds me of Angelah, who had the first baby through CS, and went back home without her baby. Her bundle of joy was a still birth. The next time she carried another pregnancy, gave birth through Cesarean Section, a healthy baby boy. Just when we were getting ready to go celebrate with her, I received a message from her sister Anne, that Angelah died of CS complication. She left her son behind.
I can’t sign off this letter without telling you about Anne Pendo. She was almost due when her sister died. It broke my heart seeing her crying, mourning her sister when she was so pregnant. Right now, she is a single mother to little handsome, 18 month old Jedidiah. I salute her for her courage, carrying the pregnancy as a single mother in church.
Mom, even as I celebrate you today, I want to also celebrate all types of mothers out there. The single moms, stepmoms, foster moms, IVF moms, adoptive mums, mums who have lost their babies and mums who ended up dying and left their babies living.
This mothers’ day, know that you are still a mum. I am also telling myself that no matter what happened, I am also still a mum. When the right time comes, I will hold my baby. Meanwhile, there are a lot of precious babies and children around me to love. Happy mother’s day to all my mums and friends who are mums.
With love from Juls,
Your Daughter and Friend.