I kept staring at the wall clock as if that would somehow bring him back. The seconds turned into minutes, and then an hour. When three hours had passed, three hours of just sitting there in disbelief, I picked my phone and called my brother. ‘Ekow, he is dead. My husband is dead’. And with those words, the nightmare became a reality.
Then everything else happened so quickly. Ekow came to my office to pick me up and drove me home. On the way, he told me that he had called everyone- my mum, my best friend, Patrick’s family and his friends. I silently thanked him in my head- Ekow had always been dependable. He knew I didn’t want to have to deal with breaking the news to anyone else. He took my phone from me and answered all the calls as and when they came in.
Me? I was just in shock. Patrick was gone. Just like that- no warning signs, no chance to say goodbye. Just like that, my life as I knew it was over. The people began to pour in. I just sat there- numb, oblivious to the wailing, the faceless people who kept trooping in to offer their condolences. My mother brought food- rice with kontonmire stew. Normally I would devour it but today, I didn’t have an appetite.
Patrick’s mum was sobbing and her two daughters were seated on either side of her. They were single handedly responsible for making me miserable for the first two years of my marriage. They had made it clear in rather subtle ways that I was not welcome into their family. They thought I was too young for him- he was twelve years older than me- and that I would run off someday with a younger man. I kept it from him, only because I wanted to rise above the in-law friction.
He caught me crying in the bathroom one day and slowly pulled the story out of me. He made me sit in his lap and cry my heart out, and then made me promise never to keep anything from him again. I don’t know what he said to them, but the antagonism stopped- just like that. He was a wise man- and not just because he was twelve years older. He had a way of putting people at ease.
The first thing he said when we met was ‘My name is Patrick Adabla and I am going to marry you’. Just like that, and our whirlwind of a romance started. Anytime we had an argument and I was sulking, he would tickle me until I surrendered. It was hard to be angry at him for more than an hour, because he knew how to make me laugh. He always had this twinkle in his eye when he was up to no good. On our second date, he took me to an orphanage. The children ran out to meet him, and what pulled at the strings of my heart was that he knew every one of those 56 children by name. That’s when I knew I would marry him.
We had been through so much together. I had had two miscarriages, both just before the third month, and each time he had been so supportive. Even my mum didn’t know about those miscarriages. He always told everyone that he was in no hurry to have kids, something which upset his mum every single time. I knew he wanted kids, I also knew that it was just his way of putting me at ease.
He treated me like a queen- his queen. How could he be dead? Just like that! I wish there were some sign, some sort of signal to prepare me for this. This morning, we had had breakfast- Earl Grey tea, with toasted bread and orange marmalade from England- just the way he liked it. Patrick was too bourgeois for his own good. We had talked about when to pay the gardener for the work he was doing on our front lawn. He had kissed me on the forehead and told me to have a good day. And that was the last I saw of him.
Why was my husband dead? Why didn’t I feel that something would go wrong? Why didn’t I sense it? People say they knew something was wrong the day someone they loved died, that they could sense it. But not me, I didn’t feel anything. It was a normal day until the phone rang at 11:42. They said it was an accident- that the truck driver slammed on his brakes too late, that Patrick died on the spot, that they needed someone to ID the body. That’s all I remember.
The house was getting empty. The well wishers were leaving. Patrick’s mother was lying down in the guest room. Esi, my best friend, was going to spend the night here with me. My mum promised to move in the next day. Ekow had to go and pick up his kids from school. He squatted in front of me and asked if I needed to be alone. When I asked why, he said, ‘You haven’t shed a tear yet. I think it is bottled up inside.’
I walked into our bedroom, yes it was still ours. I could still smell the woody effect of his perfume- Calvin Klein’s Eternity for Men. I bought that for his 50th birthday. 50! He was too full of life to just stop living. I ran my fingers against the lapel of his suit. It was my favourite- a navy blue suit with a gold pocket square. He always looked so dashing in it. He was going to wear it on Saturday for our seventh anniversary dinner.
I was particularly excited about this year’s anniversary because I had some news to share. That’s why I didn’t get him a present. I am pregnant-with Patrick’s baby. We had made it past the three month safety limit. A picture of the ultrasound was tucked away in an envelope, with the inscription: Guess who is going to be a Daddy?
‘Till death do us part’ came too quickly. That’s when the tears finally began to fall..
The story continues here..
©Maukeni Padiki Kodjo, 2014