A TRIBUTE TO THE STRONGEST WOMAN I KNOW

I watched joy bubble in her heart as she said "I Do" to the love of her life. I could feel her happiness as she stared into his eyes and envisioned the start of a good life with the only man that swept her off her feet. Her smile was infectious and broad, reaching her eyes and spreading throughout her features as she had eyes for only one man, the man whom she would build a new world with, whom she would cherish for a lifetime and grow old in his arms. He drew her close and kissed her full on the lips when the Reverend said "you may kiss the bride" and we all applauded. The occasion was a memorable one and my best friend Vera was married to Vandy as he was fondly called in the full presence of her family and friends who wished the new couple nothing but love and happiness in their new home. Sadly, that happiness was short lived and replaced with visits to the hospital a few days after the wedding. Doctors appointments took over the honeymoon, kisses were replaced with prayers for recovery, life plans were replaced with charts for medication and together forever grew farther away as his health didn't improve. That fateful morning greeted me with news so heart wrenching that I couldn't help the tears that spilled out. She told me that her Vandy was gone, never to speak words of endearment to her, never to hold her lovingly and share dreams with her, never to touch her passionately and grow old with her, never to smile again and share this world with her. She was heartbroken and distraught, in denial and pain, shock and disbelief as she watched life take away someone so precious to her and her heart broke over and over again. How are you doing Vera? I asked, her only reply is to burst into tears and say, "my sugar is no longer in this world". Days passed as preparations to lay him to rest commenced and I watched my dear friend transition from a young twenty three year old lady to a widow mourning her husband one month after she tied the knot. As tradition would have it, she had her head shaved, she wore black clothes, she was holed up inside surrounded by older women who comforted and guided her through all the procedures. It was devastating to watch my beautiful, fun loving, energetic and vibrant best friend lose her light and vigour because life stole something precious from her. She was mandated to stay indoors, to avoid the backlash and stigma that would follow such an untimely and unexpected experience. My best friend matured before my eyes as she found courage to mourn the loss of her husband, endure the probing eyes and side talks, sneers and insinuation from people who think they are saints and god's. I could feel her sorrow behind the calm lifeless smile she shared with people around her, I could tell she was scared and confused, she was alone and drowning in the uncertainties of what to come after everything. That experience was a hellish one for someone as young as she to go through and I know she still struggles with it everyday of her life. To my best friend Vera, you are the strongest woman I know. You have endured more than any young woman I have ever met and you came out brave and strong. In the face of all that you went through you never grew cold or let the emotions bury you under its crushing weight because you kept fighting back. You are a conqueror and a queen, you rose about your pain and fought to be a part of this world and enjoy what life holds in store for you. I admire you my dearest and I pray in my next world to know a friend like you. You will love again, you will feel loved again, which won't make you love Vandy any less or forget him in an Instant. He is always in our hearts and I bet he wants you to find someone special to love and cherish with all your heart. Smile for the world to see that you pulled through, that you persevered and came out better and stronger. Smile for the world to know that you are not afraid to love again. Smile for me to show me that you are okay and moving on. My dearest Vera, this tribute is for you. Thank you for being the strongest woman I know. Your best friend, Jane.

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Niki

Writer and Playwright

London, United Kingdom