I got my start in advertising at an agency that has a legendary bar. Barney Stinson approved legendary. Friday nights were so lit, whether we were drinking by ourselves or having a supplier sponsored party. I particularly loved the 300 ml wine glasses that would take me from sober to tipsy AF real quick. The bartender kept it 300 filling the glass to the brim. Countless hangovers were owed to those glasses. Initially we had a dozen glasses and unsurprisingly not all of them survived the raucous nights.
During my last week at the agency, on wine Wednesday to be specific, I carried the last of the glasses to my mum’s place. I used to wash it myself and keep it in my room as I did not want to chance the house-help breaking it. It had a lot of fun albeit hazy memories and I was exceedingly attached to it. When I moved out of home, it moved in with me. It amazed me that an inanimate object could contain so many laughs, regrets, hangovers, tears, heartbreaks and embarrassing moments in one.
On the penultimate day of 2017 I broke my wine glass. I had been doing some (read a lot of) day drinking and in a moment that can only be described as daft I broke this item that had been a part of my life since 2014. I wanted to cry, but instead I blacked out. When I woke up, for a few blissful minutes I had forgotten about the glass. Till I saw it in my trash. And I wanted to cry again, but instead I threw it in the outside bin. Out of sight, but not out of mind.
I buried my mother exactly one week before I broke that glass. She was laid to rest upcountry and we travelled back to Nairobi on Christmas Eve, where I began the first day of the rest of my life. Nine months later and my heart is still broken. I continually wonder if it will ever be whole again. I do not think so. She was the absolute love of my life. I used to call her my favourite girl and she would call me her baby girl. There will never be a more earth-shattering moment in my life than the death of my mum. As it is there are two versions of me: before my mum died and after my mum died. Her death caused a tectonic shift deep in my essence and nothing has been the same since. To borrow from Taylor Swift: The old Lwile can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, cause she’s dead.
The first few months after my mum died were beyond difficult. I used to feel like something was literally breaking inside me. There was this pressure on my chest that was more pronounced at night; I would feel like someone was sitting on my chest. At random moments I would catch myself shaking my head in disbelief. Friends who lost their mums told me all that was normal and would pass. Some part of me knew they were right. After all I just had to look to them for confirmation. But I felt like I would be sad forever. I was the saddest girl in the world, going through the motions of life without really experiencing anything. I was alive and well on the outside, but dead on the inside.
Fortunately, a broken heart is not a broken glass. Unlike glass, a broken heart can heal. I can go months on end without remembering my broken glass, and when I do it does not hurt one bit. I doubt I will go even one day without remembering my mum. But with patience, self-love and a good support system the crushing weight of grief lessens with each passing day. There is little to nothing a broken glass can hold. But a broken heart can still hold boundless love, infinite joy and endless hope.