Late Rosemary Onochie Amadi
Have you ever felt pain? Have you ever felt raw pain? I'm talking about a deep kind of pain that goes straight to your heart strings and pulls it till you feel like you cannot breathe again. Do you know what it means to feel a kind of pain that is so intense, so agonizing and so unbearable? I presently allude to the kind of pain that leaves you numb with confusion and utter denial of the reality of the cause of that pain. I'm talking about the pain of loss. The loss of a dear one. I'm talking about the pain of death. I am sad. I am confused. I am honestly passing through the painful phase of trying to accept the death of a good friend. Yes! Once again, death has landed me another blow below the belt and I am filled with acute pain. Yes! My friend of over two decades is dead. Rosemary Onochie Amadi is lying cold in the morgue. She is lifeless. She is gone. She's no more.
I was in the Fides Auditorium on Monday morning, having a meeting with the rest of the Fides Staff and our directors when I got a call. I almost didn't take that call as I was seated directly in front of my Director, Fr Martin Anusi and didn't want to be a distraction. I however decided to step out and receive the call when the caller refused to give up. The caller turned out to be one of our classmates and the Admin of our whatsapp group. I was still trying to exchange pleasantries and plead with him to excuse me because I was in a meeting when he told me, 'Uche, Rosemary is dead'. At first, it didn't register. I was silent as my mind went in different directions. I was still trying to get my wits together when it sunk in. I can't begin to explain my state of mind on that fateful moment. I can only remember screaming NO a million times and wishing he would tell me it was an expensive joke. You know, it's amazing the way the human mind works. I still can't tell how come I was able to hold myself together and make it through that day. I still can't tell how I was able to drive home to Onitsha on that fateful day. It's still a mystery to me. Rosemary was too active to be dead. Rosemary was too jolly to be lying cold. Rosemary was widowed just recently. She was there as the only parent taking care of her three children and playing the role of both father and mother to them. She couldn't be dead. Rosemary wouldn't have the heart to leave her lovely children orphaned this early in life. Chai! Alu melu!! Onwu ajoka!!! Onwuamaeze!!!! Onwuasoanya!!!!! Death is a bad reaper. Death is a humbler of the living.
I met Rosemary in 1989 when I got admitted into the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu. We were both in the Mass Communication Department. We were friends until we all left school. Because the world was still very much analogue in our time, we all lost contact until the facebook craze began and we somehow, all hooked up again. Since then, we have remained in contact. Two years ago, we woke up to the news that Rosemary lost her dear husband and it was a rude shock to our Alumni group because they had just celebrated their wedding anniversary and all seemed to be well. I was among the members of our alumni association that made the trip to far away Etche land in Rivers State where her husband hailed from. He was actually the Monarch of Etche, while my friend, Rose was Queen Mother. It wasn't easy being in that position and being generally accepted as she was an Anambra woman from Obosi married into a Royal family, but Rosemary took it all in her stride and has held the forte after being widowed in far away Etche land. A land where she found love. I remember when our Alumni Association had their first reunion at Ibari Ogwa. We took turns to talk about our lives and our journey so far since we all left school. When it got to Rosemary's turn, she told us about how she had so any suitors and how she became almost confused about the right choice to make. She said that the only thing that helped her remain focused about her choice of a life partner was the fact that she wanted a man that she would start life with from the scratch. She left the rich ones and gave her heart to her late husband and together, they made it through life in the civil service until they both reached the peak of their careers. They lived together for twenty years before he died after a brief illness. I still remember on the night her husband died. When the news filtered into our whatsapp forum, I called her around 12 midnight and remember her sounding very weak, sad and scared. She said in her exact words, 'Uche, agbazim aka. Dim ahapugom. I'm now a widow'. Those words broke my heart. Widowhood is a terrible thing and I understood her every fear. I understood her every pain. The pain of loss is a terrible one. Death is indeed a bad reaper.
Rosemary was a very strong girl back in school. She was very brilliant and behaved more like a boy. She was also very smart and intelligent. She was cheerful. She was dogged. She was very determined in anything she set her heart to. She was this type of person that made a strong impression the first time you meet her. She was sociable. She was friendly. She was very hard working. Her death is a huge blow to her immediate family, no doubt. Each time I remember her children and how lonely they must feel presently, I shudder in pain. How does one begin to console them? Just how? If there is any task that is as difficult as it is scary, it is the task of telling these children that all is well. What is well? See one of the reasons why I respect Catholic priests? Even if they celebrate mass for an entire family that was razed to death by fire and there is a survivor, they will console that survivor till the point where he or she will have hope. I don't know how they do it. They make every problem look simple. Too bad Rosemary's family isn't Catholic. Maybe then, it would have been easier to console them.
How did Rosemary die? She was involved in an accident and did not die. She survived the accident but died a few weeks after from complications arising from the accident. The surprising thing is that she was already getting better before death struck, but who are we to question God. He always knows best. His divine will is what He always does and His ways are not the ways of men. If His ways are the ways of men, He would have considered sparing Rosemary's life so that her children will not be orphaned this early in life.
Life is really short and should be lived well. Every day, I see posters and listen to lots of obituary announcements. The painful part is that these dead people are young, more often than not. Most ladies you see clad in mourning garments are mostly young people. Life is short. Everyone needs to be careful how they live their lives. Some think they have the world as their oyster. Some others think that they have power and so, abuse it to the detriment of the people under their care. Some marry their wives and treat them like their house helps, not caring how their in-laws would feel. Some get married to their husbands and become terrors to them and even their own children. Some rich men do not know what it means to give tithes in church. Some even attend Bazaar sales in church and end up buying goods worth hundreds of thousands on credit without having any intention of paying for them. This is something I find very disturbing because I can't understand why anyone will attempt to try and cheat God Himself. These crop of rich men just go to church for formality sake. Some are politicians who stay humble during the campaign period and the moment they win the votes they clamoured for, either by rigging or by a free and fair process, they will become different people entirely and change all their phone numbers and begin to let their PAs take their calls. When these ones see you either in church or in the shopping mall, they act like they don't know you. I saw one of them at Roban Stores the other day and he tried being nice. I snubbed the life out of him. I walked past him in front of his friend who must be wondering what was amiss. This is someone I used to know back in the days when he held no political post. Today, when I see him at functions, he keeps a straight face and I patiently kept my distance since then. I knew that one day, he would fall in my trap. So, on that day, the chance came, and I treated him like the empty vessel he was. Who needs fair weather friends? Certainly not Uche Amunike. When I noticed the embarrassed look on his face, it made my day. He can go and hug a transformer with his undeserved position. I am not a government official but I am happy that I add value to the lives of people I mingle with, regardless of their status or position in society.
What am I talking about? My message today is for everyone to try and live their lives well now that they have the opportunity to do so. Rosemary my dear friend is dead. It might be me tomorrow. It might be you, dear reader. Death is a bad reaper. It could be anybody. Therefore, if there is something you're not doing right, this is the time to make amends because life is truly short. Take it from me…it could be me or you tomorrow. I pray for the repose of the soul of Rosemary and her husband. I also pray that God comforts her dear children, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends. He knows best. Rest in Peace, Nne. It is well with your soul. Amen