The overwhelming numbness of this particular day was too much for Amaka to bare. She had her two boys by her side so she felt the need to be strong and hold it together, but deep within, she just wanted to sit in her room alone and cry. Her husband of ten wonderful years was being buried. He was killed in a car crash on his way home from work.
The day went by in a blur. The ache in her stomach only subsides by hugging her boys, who she couldn't imagine surviving the rest of their lives without their dad. He provided so much boyishness and fun. Not to mention a confident role model who was so much more together than she was.
Amaka planted a kiss on the cheeks of her brave sleeping boys. Now in her bedroom, the silence was unbearable; she laid on his side of the bed. She couldn’t avoid staring at their wedding photos until she cried herself to sleep.
She was awake before the boys (Kayode and Iyanu) and with a new sense of determinedness, decided she would move on, be everything her boys needed, persevere in life but make sure she kept their dad a big part of their lives.
The boys were remarkable, carrying on with their everyday lives but perhaps a bit clingier. She made time for quiet chats and cuddles at bedtime; time to share memories and tears. Amaka had always worked a full-time job but now work didn't have the same appeal; it was too close to the real world, she preferred to be closer to home and be there for the boys. She quit her job as a copy editor for a publishing house and instead worked from home as a freelance copy editor and proofreader.
Amaka got into a good routine. She would work at her desk from 9am to 12pm, have a bit of lunch, carry on working till 2:30pm then collect the boys from school, take them to the playground to run off some energy, then make some tea. Sleep came easily with two boys to run around after so she never spent too much time feeling sad and lonely. Thank goodness!
This change in situation helped to make her first big life decision; registering with a fostering agency, something she had thought about many times but never acted upon. The application process went fairly smooth: There was an initial assessment with a lady from the local foster agency, an interview with a panel then a nervous wait to see if they were approved to foster.
The boys were involved in the whole process, excited at the prospect of someone new to play with. Amaka hoped this would be a good distraction for the family and allow the boys to mingle with other unfortunate children out there who just needed a family to care for them. Great news - they were approved and ready for their first placement!
Emeka was assigned as their social worker. One unexpected evening, he arrived with Chioma, a three-year-old, needing foster care until a forever home could be found. Emeka was a laid-back man who was great at putting the children at ease. He was also easy on the eye but Amaka didn't allow herself to even acknowledge this.
Chioma was very tearful and timid at first. The boys on the other hand, were a little lost in how to deal with their new visitor, but a little patience, kindness and perseverance paid off later. Work was put on hold during the day whilst Chioma needed her time; Amaka immersed herself in crafts, colouring and baking with her foster child. She felt rewarded by any part of Chioma's character emerging during these activities. The little girl loved it when Kayode and Iyanu returned home from school, which always make her comfortable enough to join in with their games.
Most of the time, the boys seemed to be dealing well with their grief; it was just on occasions when they were having so much fun that they wished their dad was there – especially at bedtime. It made Amaka physically ache in her stomach when either of her boys asked for their dad.
Five months down the line and a noisy home was now normal for Amaka. She was delighted to have a two-month old baby boy in her care. The baby slept in a cot in her room and in doing so took away the dreaded silence and loneliness. She loved laying there, listening to him breathing as he slept contently.
The phone call from Emeka, which came six months later, was the hardest phone call she had had to take since the day her husband died. The authorities had found a family to adopt Chioma. They had been approved and would shortly start meetings and visits with Chioma, with a view to her living with them in a few months if all went well. Amaka was so pleased for Chioma, but she was very sad to say goodbye to this wonderful little girl.
A year had passed and life felt good. One morning, Amaka had a surprise visitor to her door - Emeka stood there and explained that he was no longer a social worker. After a moment of silence, he asked if there was any chance she fancied a cup of coffee and a chat.
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Nothing beats a mothers love