Because Death came stealthily and did not ask me
if it was okay for Ajoba to leave.
Ajoba didn't ask me either.
If he had, I would have said yes.
I would have said that I knew the toll that
dementia had taken on everything that he was,
and then maybe we would have had ice cream, one last time.
But he didn't ask me.
He didn't ask me if it was okay for him to leave.
And that takes me back to when I was 16,
and I was everywhere, but home -
and I didn't ask him if it was okay for me to leave.
If I had, maybe he would have said no.
Maybe he would have asked to go for a walk together.
Maybe he would have said, “Yes, it's okay to live your life.”
But I never asked, and now I will never know.
I will never know if he was okay, when I grew up
and more of my life happened outside our home.
I never asked if it bothered him,
I never said to him, "It's okay to talk about it."
If I had, he probably wouldn't have said anything anyway,
but I could have asked.
Maybe that's why I am angry,
at Death, at him, at myself.
“It's okay to talk about it” sounds like an empty reassurance,
because it conveniently disregards the truth -
every word I try to say, either gets caught in my throat
or ends up sounding like ‘tragedy.’
Because every feeling comes with a memory
and every memory comes with its kind of pain,
and it doesn't matter if it's okay to talk about that,
because everything I will ever have to say is meant for his ears only.