I need a Mother and a Manicure

I am typing away at work, but really, staring at my fingernails thinking, “God, there is nothing more I need right now than a manicure and a mother.” Yes, a manicure and a mother. The two are of course not equal in importance. The former takes precedence in immediacy, while the latter possesses an element of a timeless endurance — it is always the suffix to any of my pragmatic requests. “God, there is nothing more I need right now than an a new client and a mother.” A sandwich, a notebook, any thought involving a need never ceases to remind me of the primary void that lingers behind every petty desire: my mother’s absence. Each time something goes missing from my life, my grief is in the shape of my mother’s face. I am a motherless daughter, and yes, I still need a manicure.

Today would have been my mother’s 51st birthday. In a perfect world, or at least one where Mama didn’t suddenly die of heart disease at the tender age of 47, my siblings and I would ensure that we had a nice dinner and cake to celebrate the awesome human being that she was. We would all probably be thinking about how lucky we were to have her and wondering how she did such a good job at single-parenting; why she took a whole lot of our puberty nonsense. The kind of love we would feel for her would take us by surprise, but there would be no “I love you” uttered aloud because African culture dictates that you show love, not go around “being emotional”. If you must tell someone you love them, put it in a text. Or better yet, send that annoying kissy-face emoji. But I digress.

For me, today is a celebration of a wonderful life and another painful reminder of the gnawing emptiness of many future important days I will have to celebrate alone. In the three years since Mama left I have somewhat come to terms with the bitter-sweet feeling of social media posts on Mother’s Day, and the familiar inward eye-rolling every time a friend complains to me about something their mother did. I feel sad that she did not get to see what became of us and that my nephews no longer remember “Shosh” who babysat them. However, I am grateful that in the short time we got to share, my mother taught me how to cook and clean, how to be ambitious and empathetic and kind to the people who deserved it the least, and most of all she taught me how to tell when my nails need to be done.


Originally published at sharonadongo.tumblr.com.

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