My Father’s Laughter

Christiana Udoh on Loss

It is too early for me to write about my father’s death, a loss that has forced me to grow forward and backwards in two months. These tears, inevitable as they might be, have come too soon.

Growing up, Father’s ill heath constituted our family’s reality. I knew his drugs the way that I know my siblings’ names. His vulnerability was the familiar foe that wreaked havoc on our emotions and finances, and yet bound us together, compelling compassion, sacrifice, and devotion. My siblings and I learned long ago that like love, family is a cherished rose with undesired thorns. You can’t enjoy the former without embracing the latter.

In November 2016, I went home after Father had surgery. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t what I found in the hospital ward. My father resembled an old, manhandled corpse that was still breathing. He’d turned fearful and violent because of a complication that had robbed him of his senses and memory. On most nights that I spent at the hospital, I felt like the helpless creature in a horror movie. But there was nothing unreal about the pain and fear that squeezed my heart and kept me awake.

Each time I gave him a bath or fed him or did any of the things he could no longer do for himself, I hoped that he understood and remembered what he meant to me.

As dusk fell on New Year’s Day, I sat by his side, his frail hands in mine, whispering his favourite Psalms and willing his breathing to normalize. He fell asleep as we waited for the nurse. So when she checked him and said he was dead, I said she was wrong. She had to be wrong because he could not be dead. Not after how hard we’d fought. Not at fifty-eight. Not before my siblings and I and our mother were ready to let him go.

In the weeks that followed Father’s passing, I went about life feeling nothing, wanting nothing. It seemed as though I had already exceeded my quota of emotion, even grief. Everyone thought I was in denial. How could I be? The man I loved most, the first one I ever loved, had died in my arms.

My sister, Joy, often asked, “Have you cried?” Each time the answer was the same. Father was dead and I felt nothing.

The casket saved me. The beautiful white wooden box that held Father’s body caused my benumbed heart to thaw. At his funeral, I watched, helpless and horrified, as it was lowered into a dark, lonely pit. Then it vanished under a heap of earth, and my father was forever out of my reach.

I screamed. And screamed. Because life is unfair. Once the dam broke, the tears would not stop flowing. I mourn Father’s dreams and my plans for him that will never see light. The fear of losing my father that’s haunted me for two decades has been replaced by angry disbelief. How can the world move on without him? Night and day remain constants, and the sun still holds everything in place, except my heart.

Charles Caleb Colton wrote that death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release, the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure, and the comforter of him whom time cannot console.

I do not ponder Colton’s words, lest I find them to be true. I fear that I might be seduced by the universe to betray Father and move on. Sometimes I am alarmed by guilt because I want to move on too.

Some nights when I sleep, I hear Father laughing. He loved to laugh, a deep low rumble, which made us feel that all was well. I don’t know what amuses him. Is he happier now? I find it comforting that Father is laughing again. It fills me with hope that he is in a better place, not out of my reach. What he meant to me—the way he loved me, the lessons I learned from his life, and even his death, the privilege of being with him in the end—no one, not even death, can take from me.

I welcome sleep each night, eager for Father’s laughter. His soothing chuckle cascades into my days like a music loop, reminding me that one day, it will be his turn to hear me laugh.

© Christiana Udoh 2017

 Christiana Udoh loves to capture life in creative scribbles. She is a budding media management professional, freelance writer and editor, and happy family girl who relishes her roles as beloved daughter, trusted sister, and adored aunt. She won’t trade her Lee Child/Lisa Kleypas moments for anything, except maybe a bowl of coconut flavoured ice cream. She hangs out on Facebook @


©Timi Yeseibo 2017

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59 thoughts on “My Father’s Laughter

  1. This is such a beautiful piece. I am moved by the expression of your loss, and reminded why it is important to do good while time is still a friend. Be strong and remember that the greatest tribute is to become the living, walking dream of your father.

    Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry for your loss.
    I have memories of my father greeting me and also when I last said goodbye to him in the hospital (in a palliative care ward) before he died 2 wks. later. He had prostate cancer and we knew this for past 6 years…His quality of life was very high. He only deteriorated rapidly when he was put on chemotherapy in last 4 months as desperation move. Before he had less debilitating drugs to keep cancer at bay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jean, for reading and sharing your experience.

      I have a fair idea what it must have been like saying goodbye to your father in that palliative care ward. When my dad was in the hospital, I was usually afraid to leave him, not knowing what might happen before I return.

      He had stones in his Kidney and gall bladder and needed surgery, he was also diabetic. Doctors had warned that it was a 50/50 chance at survival, but he was in so much pain, we were desperate (sometimes I wonder if we made a mistake).

      He never recovered after the surgery.


    1. I’m glad you connected with my story, Pete. And yes, I agree that grief defines love. I think love defines grief too, don’t you agree?

      Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Christina,

    This well-written piece was raw in such a beautiful way.

    As I read it, my own life flashed before my eyes. The white wooden casket released emotions that I prefer to suppress. My father was buried in a white wooden casket.

    I’ve learned that the cliched comfort “Time heals” doesn’t apply to my grief. It goes and then it comes again when one least expects it.

    May the wonderful memories of your father always be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Nedoux, thank you so much. I find it comforting that there are people who have been where I am and felt like I do now. It fills me with hope and makes me feel less isolated in my grief.

      Many of us want to believe that time fixes everything, perhaps because we need that reassurance? I’m not sure. But believing that helps.

      Amen. Memories of him keep me sane.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Layefa, I’m glad you find these words soothing. I know you have just lost your dad too. I hope you find comfort too.

      I’m praying for you, sis.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss, Christiana. Thank you for sharing this.

    “The fear of losing my father that’s haunted me for two decades…”

    These words hold true for me. Sometimes I look at my father and know that one day he’ll be gone. On those days, I say a silent prayer to heaven, to God, begging that he keeps him long enough for all my dreams, his dreams to see the light of day.

    Thank you, again. I hope you find comfort for your sorrow and laughter at the end of the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Uju, I have said a prayer for you too, that God keeps your dad long enough. But then seize every opportunity you get to love amd honour him. In the end, those are the things that would count.

      I’m glad this piece resonates with you.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. My father feared dying for over ten years after having a heart attack.His fear and depression was mainly about losing all of us–his wife and children. It was so frustrating to see him waste those years, only sometimes regaining his former sense of humor, but it did make us all very aware of fleeting time and how much we loved each other. When he did die we found notes he composed for everyone close to him. He wasn’t a writer so the notes meant even more.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh Chris, this piece drained the happiness and paradoxically replaced it with happiness. Happiness that you’re stronger now; that he’s free, void of the pain that plagued him; that his loss is not lost but forever indented in your memory, being, mind, soul; that his laughter still rumbles and lightens you.

    I wish I heard him laugh, you know.

    Love you, Chris. Stay strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For I know a great woman and it is you, Christie. You are no doubt a woman of letters. Very expressive piece, it is both raw and consoling at the same time.

    May the sound of papa’s laughter remain undying.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sugar this is such a beautiful piece. Dad loved us all so much even though he had a strange way of showing it. His death has made me both strong and weak. I have had many nights wen i stay awake, tears running down my cheeks, wondering what he might be feeling. If he misses us half as much as we miss him.
    I have had to ask many questions to which am yet to get answers. I don’t know if i can ever get over this emptiness in my soul but am sure that together we will keep healing.
    Keep writing sugar!!! I love love love you! Dad was n and always will be proud of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, sis. Your response has got me tearing up here. I know that emptiness, and I cry too. I don’t have answers either, because even the right ones don’t make much sense.

      But you’re right, we’re stronger together. We always have been. We’ll heal, eventually. And our emptiness will vanish.

      I’ll keep writing sis. I love you too. So much.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “..that like love, family is a cherished rose with undesired thorns..” A beautiful way of describing a universal truth. I delight that you can hear his laughter……a saving grace. Thank you for sharing so generously of yourself….you brought back the tenderness of remembering my father who died at 52. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 52. Your dad died pretty young too. I’m sure it must have been hard. Did you find a saving grace too? I wonder what it was.

      I’m glad this brings fond memories of your dad.

      Bless you too, Ma’am. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautifully written, Christiana. My guess is that your father loved you very much and considered himself lucky to have you as a daughter. My mother passed away at 50, so I understand some of your feelings. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Curt, my father loved me more than even he could show. I know Because it was the same for me.

      You mother passed young. I suppose you found a way to survive that? I’m glad.

      Thank you for reading, and for the compliment.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. True. I agree that parents never leave us. And about their love, almost nothing beats that. So unconditional, so eternal.

          I’m glad time helped you. I hope it helps me too.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Though an elegy, this piece is truly touching. It struck a chord I never realized was there. It’s good to remember him with fondness and though time is said to heal all wounds, the scar never fades altogether. May his soul rest in peace as you treasure his memory. It is well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Charles Caleb Colton wrote that death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release, the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure, and the comforter of him whom time cannot console.”

    This brought a tear to my eyes. Loss is a terrible pain we all have to endure. I always find it difficult to talk about loss, especially death. Finding the right words is difficult. But thanks for sharing Christiana, hopefully you find solace in all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you mean, Xceptional. I find it difficult too. But sometimes, talking helps.

      I’m happy to share this, and happier that you read. I hope that tear is not too sad though?

      Liked by 2 people

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