After years and years, you will finally learn the sound a heart makes when it breaks. You will realise that it is a slow process, one crack after another; so quiet that you will only hear them getting a bit bigger when it’s dark out and the only competing sound is that of your breathing. You will do everything you can to fill the cracks with memories of better days, if only to hold the heart together for just one more day.
But it will not be enough.
After The Shattering, you will get up and go. You will move – regardless, no less. You will know that there is nothing left for you in a house whose structure has been weakened by resentment and fear and shame. You will make your peace with the idea of making a new home somewhere else and you decide that you will be okay.
You will do many things. Some that you never thought you would be able to do, some that are one hundred per cent in character. You will savour the freedom and the silence. You will look for ways to make your heart soft again. You will imagine a million ways that the last three months of your life could have played out and sometimes, sadness will settle in your heart and contain your smile so that it does not stretch far enough to reach your eyes. You will go to work and do your best. You will spend time with your friends and your family. You will tell and retell the story of The Shattering because at first, nobody will be able to believe it. You will keep your eyes straight ahead when you walk, hoping that you won’t meet anyone who will ask you how he is because the only two things that follow that are awkwardness from you and something like pity from them. You will let your past self teach you how to be alone again.
But most of all, you will remember. You will realise that most of this city is coated in your memories of him. You will remember funny things that happened when you were together and you will laugh to yourself and the laughter will give way to loneliness. You will remember the fights and the inside jokes. You will remember how you learned to love and how you learned to let yourself be loved. You will remember everything; you will spend many of your waking moments remembering.
You will keep your distance because you do not trust yourself enough yet. You will be gentle with yourself and take a day at a time. You will hold your quiet tightly against your chest because on many days, it is the only thing that reminds you that you made the right choice. You will rebuild your confidence – slowly, because the problem with confidence is that it requires you to pretend that it is there before it really is, and you hate pretending. You will be surprised when you do not cry. You will adjust because that’s what humans do. They adjust.
And then one day, you will realise that it has been a while since loneliness interrupted your day. You will look for her but you will not find her. You will find sadness, sitting in a corner next to contentment, like two enemies who have made a truce, and your smile will stretch so far that it reaches your eyes.
You will put your hand over your heart and you will feel a faint beating. You will hear Healing working quietly, clearing the rubble from The Shattering.
You will pack up the old memories and push them to the back to make room for new ones. You will know that despite everything, the old memories will always matter. They will always be a part of you and trying to get rid of them will only stand in Healing’s way. You will wonder whether you can build a friendship out of the old memories. After all, they are beautiful so why should they waste away in the corner? You will wonder whether it is too soon.
You will meet new people and you will try new things. You will decide to become everything that you had to suppress before. (Si we must love the women we are becoming, ama?) You will decide that 2020 is the Year of Risks and your friends and siblings will laugh because, what a ridiculous idea. Leopards do not change their spots. They have a point (your friends and siblings, not the leopards) and you know it, but you’re willing to try anyway. You will decide that you want to get a nose piercing. You will agree to go ziplining. You will try to wear less and go out more but the never-ending-even-though-it-is-February rain and the fact that your bank account only has money in the first five days after payday, will work against you. You will remain positive nonetheless. After all, making room in your life for some optimism is one of the new things you are trying in 2020, even though your pessimism keeps reminding you that It Will End in Premium Tears.
You will not change your hair, failing women the world over. What kind of woman experiences heartbreak and doesn’t dye or cut or grow out her hair? In fact, when you go to your barber, he will spend the entire time telling you that five years is too long to give up on and you have to go back. It does not help that he is also his barber. You will smile and laugh and you will even consider it because he will use his own break-up and make-up with his wife to drive his point home. But ultimately, common sense will prevail. Healing needs more time to work and you will stay out of her way.
You will go on with your life: cursing the weather because not only is it still raining in February but also the meteorology people say that you will have only three weeks to enjoy some sun before the rains return in March; calling your cat a hoe because she leaves the house at midnight only to show up again at 7:00 am; wondering what demon uses up all your money before the first week of the month is over; trying to eat better because your gynaecologist says that you are prediabetic; scrolling through Twitter and wondering how Kenyans can be so hilarious and yet so infuriating; finally reading the books on your shelf because now that the demon took all your money, you can’t afford to buy new books; feeling generally dissatisfied with the entire experience of being an adult and wondering where you can get a refund. You know, the usual.
You will begin to write again. You will begin to sing again. You will begin to practise yoga again. You will fight your anxiety and sometimes, you will win. You will attend an event on your own for the first time and you will not die like you had previously thought you would. Your friend Sally will tell you that your brand is awkwardness and intensity, and that instead of fighting it you should lean into it, and you will laugh (because why would she say something so controversial and yet so brave?), but you will decide to take her advice even though you know she was lowkey throwing shade. You will hear Healing working quietly on The Restoration and you will stay out of her way. You will place your hand over your heart and you will hear a beating, stronger now, and your smile will stretch so far that it reaches your eyes.
You will wake up every day and choose to Be Brave. And you will know that you are doing okay.