Talking to my friends had always been an everyday thing, text messages flying about and phone calls crowding the airwaves but I got to a state where even talking to my friends was just too heavy. I didn’t want to talk, I wanted to be left alone because what possibly could one say that would make the situation better? Empty words had always been one thing I hated because they brought no edification. I would speak to Adrian occasionally, with his constant question “How are you holding up Shade?” Adrian called me Shade, which at times made me realize what I was to people. He knew I could not answer that; I couldn’t put into words emotions that did not want to talk. I visited Belana’s Face Book page frequently thinking I would see a post from her but such a delusion that was. I constantly shifted through videos of her; self contemplated torture it now seems. I had stopped going to church completely, what was the point really? I have never been one to be shy about what I do not like and in this moment God was not high on my list. All that was within me was angry with him, I could not lie to him and act like everything was alright. I could not come into church, jump up and down like a hydraulic jack and lift my hands in a heightened spectacle of lip service. I did not want his comfort, I did not want anything from him, I was just too broken and he had become the focal point of everything. As day by day went past I became much like the character I had totally evicted from my being, not because of anything else except me not refusing to be otherwise. My friends tried to reach out to me, to drag me back into the boat but I preferred to sink, sink deep into the deeps never to come out again. No one knew what was really going on with me; no one had the slightest idea because I became a closed book that didn’t want to be read. I knew my friends meant well, and I never doubted their love for me but people can only go so far for you and I was not willing to meet them halfway.
As I went through Belana’s pictures one night I saw her face with a look I only knew her to do so well. Her eye brows would come together in a frown and she would point at you with a serious face that had laughter written all over it. Eyes trying to dig through the truth of things! I sat there and something really struck me and sent chills down my spine. I remembered the night that she fell sick; I was at home sleeping like any normal human being. However just after midnight I was abruptly woken up because my body was seriously heating up. I was not sick and I knew it but nothing could explain the heat. It was not a hot night and I was puzzled at what could be wrong, what could it possibly mean! I never thought it could have been one of my friends in trouble. I share uncommon bonds with my friends and at times not often I can tell when they are in trouble because I can see tear stains on their cheeks even after they have dried or I can feel and get direct exposure to their emotions. I sat there with my hands covering my mouth, I couldn’t believe it. How could I have known, really how could I have known who to call? I tried to find reason, reason to doubt, reason to not believe but that moment crushed me to my deepest bone. I felt it, I felt it as it happened but I didn’t know what to do! I pushed my chair away from my computer and turned away to look at the wall. “I failed, I failed you Belana. That was you, that was you and I didn’t come to help you. How could I have known, how could I have known!” I knew that at that moment the final blow had been struck, I had gotten to the stage where I now had plausible reason to blame myself for everything, blame myself for losing my friend! I lived and still live through a very strict set of boundaries and definitions built at preserving a character that is not destructive to anything around me but at that time I let go of everything, in a sense it didn’t matter at all. I began to shut down inside, defense after defense, character block after character block, emotional block after emotional block until all that was left in me was a beating heart and a brain competent enough to cope with simple thought.
Word reached me of the memorial service for Belana three weeks after the burial. It was to be held on a fast approaching Saturday morning at her house. I thought of not going, seriously I did because I am supposed to seem better there than look worse. After much deliberation the day arrived and I found myself with Gabby and a few acquaintances at the memorial service. Relatives gathered as well as the family which was coming from laying fresh flowers at Belana’s grave. People began sharing, trying to encourage Belana’s family who looked all but alive in my view! We got to a stage where any of Belana’s friends were called and this time I could not dodge as I was chosen. I stood up and walked to the front where I could address everyone in full view. I almost stammered but I knew I couldn’t do it here!
“Good morning all. I am Corey Adams. Belana was my closest friend and thus I stand before you today.” As I spoke I saw her mother nod her head, she seemed to have wanted to hear what I had to say but failed to get the opportunity. “In January of 2004 a band of young people myself included started a Christian fellowship group at the school Belana learnt. We started off and went through the years but in 2008 Belana became our leader and there has never been a leader like her. Her compassion for people has changed the hearts of people. Everyone knows her for what she does and that’s loving people. She was loved by everyone, caretaker and student alike and it is shattering to think that she is not with us now. She was my closest friend. Mom I think you know that Belana was the person I spoke to about everything in my life. She was my rock, my friend, my help and my friend and no one had my trust like she did.” Belana’s mother nodded, she knew all of this to be true! “I remember the day I got the call that she passed away, I did not believe it, even when I saw her body I still did not believe it. I only believed it when I stood outside that gate and understood she would never walk out of this gate again. That is when I finally realized she was gone and after fourteen years I finally cried again. Mom, I am no parent and I can never fully understand the depths of your pain. But please know that I am also in pain, I am in unbelievable pain. I understand the pain because this has touched where it hurts the most. Ndinoziva mhamha kuti zvirikurwadza, ndozviziva mhamha (I know this hurts mom, I know mom)! Don’t think you are alone, both of you should not think that you are alone because we are here with you. We are here because the burden is great and you cannot lift it alone. In memory of her I brought you DVD’s I took of Belana at a recent event where she performed. This is the only copy in existence and it is fitting that you should have it so that in all times you can remember her for the love she had.” I had brought DVD’s for an event hosted by this Christian fellowship group or Scripture Union as it is called. I had recorded the proceedings and I had not the composure to watch it through so I felt it was time to pass it on. Bobo received the discs and took them into the house as I went to sit down. That had taken too much of me, too much to even start to mention. The memorial proceeded and time went past with people sharing and singing in her memory. Lunch time came and everyone was served with a bite to eat. Gabby exchanged lighter moments as we joked and Bobo joined us. More relatives arrived and I felt the need to leave so that relatives could have their time. We excused ourselves and made our separate ways home. As I walked home I thought lightly with a bit of annoyance, “Juniper Trinity Rose Miles, considering all that Belana did for you in helping you turn your life, I thought you would have at least attended her funeral.” Juniper was really a wreck once upon a time, addicted to partying drinking and wild sex rampages Belana had stuck out on a limb to pull her from the dark life she had walked through. Belana lacking strength called on my help and I put all on the line for Juniper so that she could know of a better life. Through thick and thin I stayed with her but in the passing of her hero she never found time to shed a tear. I didn’t know why the thought had occurred in my head, I had no reason to judge and even if I had a reason I still had no right! I shifted my mind to think of Belana’s mother and felt sorrow and pity. No parent deserves to bury their child, let alone two of them! I nodded my head in acknowledgement of the burden she was facing; it was not something I would survive. I seriously never did figure out how mothers cope after such situations, what gaping hole is left in the heart after such an event? I shifted around in my thoughts with every step until I got home. Weeks passed while I refused to have much contact with the outside world except a few of my closest friends. I was in a state where I did not want my friends to see me. I always wanted to be strong for them, to be someone they always counted on but never did I want them to be there for me because I was afraid of being a burden. However not having them around made me face things that were unbearable. My past has the most annoying habit of wanting to come back time and time again. Nights were the worst as I always had to endure the snide comments and remarks of a certain character that simply wanted to consume me again. No matter how angry I was, no matter how lost and destroyed I was one thing that did not change in me was the conviction that I was never going to choose to go back to my past. In my past I was no stranger to alcohol abuse, anger management issues, strange bipolar behaviors and not being able to be nice to people. I had tasted freedom and no matter how many of my emotional and mental systems were off at the moment, the one that made me realize what the future had brought for me refused to switch off. Perhaps it was the hand of God but in that moment I did not want to entertain that at all. I had known him as all powerful, as my Rock and if he couldn’t have stopped my friend from dying like a dog then to me he had effectively defeated my entire confidence in him.
The beat of life came back into me quite hurriedly; life does not wait for the inconvenience of death for long. I had to get back to work and to get back to living my life. But how could I really? How does one live past such misery? I couldn’t call her now when I needed advise. I also didn’t want to burden my friends even though I knew they cared! All I could do was wear a stern face, bulldoze through every day as it came, and try not to have moments of emotional weakness and hope that the burden would get lighter with time. Word of her death had now reached every ear that knew her and having to endure people’s requests for an explanation of how she died almost drove me mad really. Every question either infuriated me or almost made me cry. I had never had my heart so crushed that I was always so close to tears. I hated being weak all the time now; not being able to help anyone anymore and it was an everyday state of mind I had to live with. A few months went by and I wrote to Adrian on Facebook. It was a simple message just telling him I was going to visit Belana’s grave. He responded asking for the date and time so that he could tag along as well. I cleared with Belana’s mother first who didn’t mind if we want to go anytime we wanted. I chose one Wednesday that was unbearably hot. We made our way to the cemetery using public transport. It didn’t matter to me at all, as we rolled down the road I remembered the day we buried her so well it drove me to silence. Adrian figured this was a very troublesome moment and just remained quiet. We were dropped off a bit away from the cemetery and we walked the rest of the way. I fought hard with each step to think of what to say, was that all she had amounted to now, just words and a bunch of flowers on her grave? We finally arrived at the cemetery and made our way through the various paths to a common area we all remembered. A problem came about where we had forgotten to copy the grave number. This made it very difficult as the care takers had their own ideas of where the grave was. After much deliberation Adrian and I we almost stuck! I had never been so short sighted and it really bothered me that I had forgotten such a simple detail. Calls to Bobo wielded no fruits. As I stood with well over one hundred graves in front of me I got into a moment where my memory kicked in. I saw a picture buried in my memory, it was Belana’s grave but I could not see the grave number. However I saw a green house quite far from the cemetery. I noticed that he house was at about a forty five degree angle to the grave from just by plain sight. I shifted my attention to the direction and saw the house but I was standing directly in its line of sight, I needed to be at an angle. I moved to the left and deeper into the graves until I got to a position which looked similar to the one in the picture from my memory. I looked at the house and nodded my head and shifted to look at the graves in front of me and three rows behind the one immediately in front of me there was her grave just as we had left it, lawn growing on top with covering the grave slopes. I turned and waved at Adrian who came to me quite speedily. I pointed to the grave and we both approached it quite slowly and calmly. To me it looked like we were burying her again! There were Good-Bye cards and roses on the grave as well and I remembered the rose I threw into the grave before it was filled. Adrian offered to give me some time alone with her but I refused, I would most likely have cried had I been alone there. We stood there for a moment looking at the grave, maybe it was still disbelief or finally acceptance but we all shared the same sentiment. “Hi Belana, it’s been a while ha? Sorry we didn’t come to visit you earlier; it’s hard to think you are now here. I for one never imagined it would come to this. Everyone is fine and everyone misses you. I miss you and I know you are in a better place now. We just came here to say hi, see how you are doing. Don’t be a stranger now and no strange visits in my dreams ok, that’s just creepy!” Adrian laughed at my last statement as he added “rest easy dear girl, rest easy!” Belana had appeared in some of my dreams and the creepiest was where I was sitting on a bench and she was sitting next to me gripping my right hand with her chin resting on my shoulder as she spoke, “I came to you because I know you will understand; you wouldn’t push me away. Someone did what they did but now I shall have my revenge. I just wanted you to know.” I remember waking up with my heart racing like it was on fire as it was just too real for me to handle. As I thought of the dream, we were already walking away from the cemetery back to find transport to make our way home. Luckily we found transport and as I sat in the taxi I remember quite vividly breathing out because had I not been with Adrian I seriously would have never left that place without shedding tears. I felt all the sorrow, anger, hurt and misery so clearly at that moment and I could not wish it away. We parted ways with Adrian in the city center as I had to get a taxi to take me home while he waited for his father to pick him up. I had always faced hard situations in my life but I had never faced anything like I had faced that day. Even strong people cry!