The Final Blow

After being discharged from hospital, Gabriel got his life back. Well, sort of. He travelled all over the country meeting relatives and friends. He visited my grandma in Shimba Hills, Kwale and cousins in LungaLunga at the Kenyan coast . On 22nd December 2015, he came back to Mombasa for the monthly clinic. The following week, we all went to a family gathering in Ukambani. My entire extended family was there. It was all fun and merry.

After the gathering, we went back home to Kibwezi . On 30th December, Gabriel was very restless. He kept pacing up and down the compound. I talked to him to see if I could get him to sleep. That’s when he broke down crying .

“I can’t continue living like this. At the age of 23 and I don’t have a plan for my future. I can’t feel love or happiness. I can’t rest nor settle. What is my purpose in this life? Why should I continue living? I wish I could do something. Just something that can hit me hard and leave me dead!!!” He cried.

I felt sorry for him. His journey through depression flashed through my mind . I struggled to keep my eyes dry. Just a single month before, we had been so close to conquering the depression. Yet, there we were, sitting on the muddy farm, clinching on the wet grass. In the same spell that was cast five years ago. I understood what he was going through and had seen how it had changed his life. I talked to him about all the good times we had. The childhood adventures. The unforgettable moments as a family. After a few minutes, he started smiling. However, I knew that this was just a quick fix. I knew we were dealing with something much bigger. This scared me.

My dad had gone back to Mombasa the previous day. I called and explained to him what had happened. He promised to come pick him after the festive season. The next couple of days were quiet and slow for him. He slept through most of the day and all night.

It was new year’s and we were all excited as a family. Gabriel walked with us to church and back. He was not the jovial and excited young man we were used to. He was weak and quiet. Saturday, 2nd January 2016 is a day that I will never forget in my life. Unlike the the previous day, Gabriel woke up full of energy. We were all happy that he was becoming more lively. We went for a morning jog with him. After breakfast, he played volleyball with my younger sister, Abigail. This was the Gabriel we had missed over the past couple of days. He was back. We were all so happy.

My mum left for a neighbour’s funeral before midday. Abigail prepared lunch and we sat down with Gabriel and Philip, my younger brother, to enjoy the leftovers of new year’s meal. After lunch, Gabriel said he wanted to sleep in a place with fresh air. I took a mattress from my room and laid it under a tree that was behind the house. We lay there gazing at the sky, making shapes with our imaginations and laughing at what we were saying. After about 10 minutes, he got up and went to his room. When he came back, he had a biscuit in hand that had a yellow wrapper. It was one of the gifts he had been given in church the previous day.

What unfolded next is painful to re-live, I have captured it in the piece of poetry below…..

Gone with the Water

Here is a biscuit for you
You said with a smile on your face
I want to eat it with you
But let me tell sis to tone down the noise
Little did I know what awaited my return
Little did I know how important those words were
Little did I know those were the last words I would speak to you
Little did I know that was the last smile I would see from you
When I came back, you were not there
Maybe you went for a bathroom call
I said to myself as I headed to the bathroom
I could not be more wrong
Running up and down I called your name
The silence in the compound was deafening
I followed our routine path to the river
I hoped you had gone to clear your head
The trees whispered what I could not decipher
Along the river banks I called your name
Only the birds and nearby cattle responded
I was getting worried but still hopeful
Little did I know you were breathing your last
Little did I know you were fighting for your life
Little did I know you had made your decision
Little did I know out of this world you were gone
Back at home I looked for you everywhere
Under the bed and into the closets
Calling your name as I paced all over
All along only I knew you were missing
At last I decided to go where I saw you last
The biscuit lay on top of the mattress
I knew you had not touched it
This is when it hit me something was wrong
Step by step I followed your foot prints
I did not like where they were leading me
But hopefully I followed them
I did not believe what I saw
On the well opening were your shoes
With five dollars besides them
The well was wide open, the grass swayed to the side
This is just a dream, I said to myself
Carefully I took a peek into the 38 ft well
It was dark and cold — no sign of life
I called your name repeatedly
But all I heard were the echoes of my voice
The light from the flashlight could not penetrate the darkness
I was still hopeful that you were not in there
After informing my dad and neighbors
It was confirmed that you were no more
After 2 hours of pumping water out
You were retrieved from the well
Lifeless lay your body on the cement
Dripping with water and foaming from your mouth
It broke my heart to not see you smile
It broke my heart to not hear you call me small sis
It broke my heart to not hear you sing to me
It broke my heart to know I will never see you again

What happened was devastating and heart breaking. It felt like a bad dream that one day I will wake out of. It took me months to accept what had happened to Gabriel. This tragedy and all the previous stages that led to it taught me a lot about depression. I will use the next blog to share the lessons I got from living with a depressed family member.