Life and Death

composing, woman, fantasy

THE STRENGTH OF A WOMAN

MEETING THE MATRIARCH

This past December, my family and I took a road trip to East London in the Eastern Cape. I met my husband’s grandmother, and now my grandmother.

In the ten days I lived in her home, I saw and experienced raw strength.

She is the matriarch and a true one at that. Mama is my husband’s 81-year-old paternal grandmother. She is also as fierce and feisty as they come. For you to understand my admiration for Mama, you need to understand a bit of her life and her history.

Mama, as she is so affectionately known, lost both her husband and only daughter of five children, who was also the youngest sibling, within the space of 6 months more than 15 years ago. She ended up having to take care of her late daughter’s son, who was two years old at the time. He is now a well raised young man.

Through conversations I had with Mama during our stay at her home in Buffalo Flats, I was in awe of how she relayed stories of when her husband, Dada, died and then how she lost her daughter only six months later. When I listened to her speak, I could hear pain, sadness, loss but also acceptance. She made me realize that acceptance like that only comes from a very deep-rooted strength.

I also realized that she didn’t have a choice but to be strong. She took on the responsibility of raising her grandson like he was her own. I cannot fathom the sheer determination and willpower it had to take for her to get out of bed every morning and be there for her grandson, the rest of her children as well as other family members.

Mama, strength, children, great-grandchildren
The first day we arrived, Mama showed her new great-grandchildren some photos.

SHAPED BY EXPERIENCE

I watched her as she sat on her red lumpy but very comfortable sofa in her home, hunched over with all the experiences from her past trying to weigh her down but she gets up every day, determined to live her life and do her daily chores.

It was at one of these moments when it hit me; she wasn’t sitting on a couch but a throne.

Mama also very much reminded me of my mother who died in 2020. Both women have seen and have been through some of the worst pain you can imagine, both refusing to be dictated to by bad and negative circumstances and both set in their daily way of life.

During the time I spent with Mama, I learned that yes, we are shaped by our experiences but we can choose how to live out those experiences. We choose how to live, we choose whether we give up or go on. We choose to forgive.

Mama, strength
Mama, my husband and out two children.

ACCEPTANCE

There was a point where Mama said to me that she didn’t know if she could ever accept or get through what had happened to her but God had gotten her through it and she did manage to accept her fate.

She could have chosen to be angry and to turn away from God, which I’m sure there were many of those moments when those bad feelings overwhelmed her. She could have chosen to become a lifeless vessel of her former self but I can assure you, that woman still has a lot of life left in her.

Her relationship with God is so secure and I truly believe that that is her source of strength. Every morning she wakes up and reads devotionals and her Bible. I’ve decided to put that in practice as well.

LIVING WITH INTENTION

Every time Mama would tell a story and explain the difficult parts, she would say, “but it doesn’t really matter

For me, that didn’t mean she gave up or lost hope or didn’t accept things. For me it meant that in the bigger picture, the grand plan of God for her life, her focusing on the past was not the point. It was what she got out of all her pain and loss. The wisdom and understanding that her loss and pain was not for nothing. The way in which she imparted her wisdom and what she learned, to others around her. It was peace beyond all human understanding. It was knowing that love is sacrifice and that understanding comes from compassion.

Mama showed me that life demands of you to be intentional; intentional about your actions, your energy, your focus, your thoughts and emotions.

I learned patience and I saw accepting the things one cannot change, in action.

I loved sitting in her company, I loved watching the movie of her life play out as she told me stories and showed me old polaroid photographs.

In ten days, I lived a life of 40+ years through the eyes of a woman who lost everything, was forced down on her knees and found herself in the perfect position to pray for the strength and will to live to tell the tale.

hope, dandelion

MY HOPE FOR YOU

I hope you fall in love with yourself. I hope you know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I hope you learn to appreciate all your flaws and find the beauty in every scar, wrinkle, and folded skin.

I hope you learn to love your voice. I hope that you use it to change your world.

I hope you learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and, I hope you let go of the burden of guilt.

I hope you find love in all the different relationships in your life. 

I hope you chase your dreams and get the chance to watch them come to life.

I hope you share your stories and adventures and inspire others to do the same.

I hope you learn to be gentle with yourself and remember that bad decisions do not define you.

I hope you find the strength to fight through the bad times and come out the other side a stronger person.

I hope you remember to pray.

I hope you remember how beautiful you are.

I hope you laugh more.

I hope you play more.

I hope you find more.

I hope you always look for stars in the darkest of nights 

and know that the sun will always rise in the morning.

I hope you start believing in love again.  

Just believe it again.

I hope you can look back on the last season in your life and find the good

And I hope that you will always be grateful that you have made it this far.

I hope you know that your story is far from over and that the next blank page is waiting for you to create the life that you want.

I hope you know that you have the power to change your life and I hope you remember to never give that power away.

I hope you know that you can push boundaries and break barriers.

I hope that you know that you are never alone.

I hope that you witness great things and climb majestic mountains.

I hope that you find the courage to reach deep within yourself and do what makes you happy.

I hope you walk away from anything that no longer serves you and, I hope you walk away with your head held high.

I hope that you smile again and laugh with all the joy in your spirit. 

I hope it’s so loud that the rest of the world can’t help but laugh with you.

.

girls, women, happy

I hope you remember that saying goodbye is not always a bad thing.
I hope you know that the pain doesn’t last.
I hope you know that love is plentiful.
I hope you dance in the rain and roll in the mud.
I hope you plant seeds instead of picking flowers.
I hope you remember that having a bit of fun is good for you.
I hope you hold warm hands and kiss soft lips.
I hope you get the chance to look into loving eyes and fall asleep in a warm embrace.
I hope you take care of yourself.

I hope you know that your story is worth telling.

psychology, mind, thoughts

ACCEPTING MY EPILEPSY DIAGNOSIS

LIVING WITH A CHRONIC CONDITION

The other day I had three consecutive seizures at my workplace. When I wrote this piece, I feel ashamed and embarrassed about having Epilepsy and slightly worried because of how I believe my colleagues might treat me after seeing me like that but you’ll be happy to know that I’m over that.

No one asks for a chronic condition. It just happens. You could be the healthiest, most active and fit individual and still somehow suffer from some chronic condition. It could be a heart condition or a neurological illness or simply a defect that you were born with.

I certainly never asked to have Epilepsy but I was officially diagnosed with it in 2019. My mother also had it. I pray that my children won’t develop it but chances are that one of them will and when they do, I do not want them to feel ashamed or embarrassed, hence I share this now. Epilepsy and seizures are weird. You have no control over your body. Sometimes when I’m in the midst of a seizure, I can make out voices, I can see people around me but I can’t speak and I can’t move. At times, I’ve found myself saying, I’m here, help me in my head but no one hears me. No one knows I’m screaming internally.

HOW IT STARTS

I get really bad headaches, then I feel the aura. An aura is a warning that you are probably going to have a seizure at any moment. When that happens, everything seems to be moving too fast and too slow all at the same time. It feels like an out of body experience, I feel a tingling sensation in my hands and then I become disorientated.

forest, trees, heaven

I only remember bits and pieces of the episode. I believe Epilepsy literally eats at your brain, little by little.

When I wake up from the seizure, and this is from what I can remember and from what people have told me, I don’t have feeling in my hands or sometimes my legs. From what the paramedic told me, this could be induced by anxiety.

I struggle to speak or articulate myself, as if my tongue is too heavy for my mouth and I don’t remember much. I was told during my epileptic episode, I asked for my mother.

My mother died in June of 2020. Grief doesn’t even take a break during seizures.

If I’m honest, I’ve been irresponsible with my health and especially with my Epilepsy diagnosis.

When I was diagnosed, I was in denial and I probably still am. I haven’t been consistent with my medication. I’ve made excuses of why I don’t want to take it; it’s too expensive, the side-effects are bad ect ect. It’s all nonsense.

The truth is, I don’t want to be the girl that has fits.

RIPPLE EFFECT

water, drop, sink

My condition doesn’t just affect me. It affects my husband when he has to get me off the floor or deal with my convulsions and sit with me until I come to. It affects my children when their mother can’t be a mother to them because she is passed out due to an epileptic episode.

Me not taking my medication is me being selfish.

I remember how it was for me when my own mother would have her episodes; I felt helpless and frustrated because I didn’t want to have to deal with it. It was as if I was my mother’s keeper and I blamed her and maybe that’s my issue, I blame myself for being ill and maybe I’m punishing myself by not taking my meds.

It makes no sense, I know.

A part of me resented my mother for her condition and the position it put me in but now I see, I’m doing the exact same thing to my own family.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you are sick or you suffer from some chronic condition, it is your responsibility to make sure you take care of yourself, if you are able to do so.

The cost of ill-health is too high and too much to bare.

pray, church, kneeling

TO LOSE A CHILD

Today a mother buried a child.
Sitting in the rows behind her
In the church,
I watch her;
Straight back.
Head covered.
Blank face.
Dignified sadness that she carries.

As person after person
Speak words of comfort,
I wonder if it reaches her
Or
If the umbrella of grief is so
Overwhelmingly broad,
That nothing can penetrate it.

Today a mother said goodbye
To her child;
An unnatural and unreal occurrence.
The small precious box on display
Holding everything that she holds dear.
And as I sit behind her,
Head bowed,
Hair undone
And tear-stained face
I cry the tears that this mother
No longer can.

a book, rose, heart

AM I NEXT?

Your smile and your smirk are the same to me.

I can’t see the difference between your sharp navy suit and your blue working overalls.

Your soft touch is just as violent as your fist to my jaw.

Every day I wake up and I ask myself #AmInext?

Black, White, Coloured;

Your sense of entitlement and abuse know no race, creed or colour.

The weight of death tip the scale when it comes to the worth of my life.

I’m no longer sad.

I am pissed!

I’ve had enough!

We have had enough.

It’s enough!

I’m tired of being afraid of making eye contact with men, thinking that if I don’t look at them, they won’t see me.

I’m tired of being afraid while standing in a public place,

Not knowing who is about to haunt me, stalk me or hurt me.

I’m tired of sitting on the bus or waiting for a taxi and wondering; did this man just come back from raping a woman?

Did this man just murder my sister?

Am I next?

Bank teller.

Post office clerk.

Businessman.

Father.

Uncle.

Son.

Rapist.

Murderer.

Criminal.

I no longer know the difference.

I’m tired of being distrustful of all men because of the faults of a few.

I’m tired of feeling like it’s my fault.

It’s not chivalry that’s dead.

It’s me.

I am dead.

Every year gender-based violence and femicide has a different face,

I can’t help but wonder, am I next?

flower, blue, rose

WHY I CRY.

I find myself being terribly emotional lately, I’m always choking on tears and having to look away when I’m in a public space.
I’m both sad and happy.
Both grieving and celebrating.
Both fearful and brave.

Everything that has happened over the last year and 8 months is indescribable
I’m still sad that we lost our mom and I relive that sadness every time I hear or read about someone else dying or someone else losing a loved one.

I cry for everyone who is hurting and I cry for everyone who has survived. I cry for everyone who don’t know which direction to turn and who feel as if the world is just dark.

It’s as if the sadness has latched on to me but then I experience joy and peace and happiness, I feel hope and I feel as if I can conquer anything.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those whose spirits are crushed’ – Psalm 34 vs 18

There is something greater at work in the world. We may not understand it and maybe it’s best if we don’t. It’s already enough that we experience these things, can you imagine being able to dissect the intricacies of God’s plan. Our minds would probably literally be blown.

I’ve also been experiencing a great sense of gratitude. I realise how blessed I am and how full my life is. I do not take it for granted.
I love my family so much, seeing my kids happy and seeing my husband happy brings me so much joy. Sometimes it feels as if I can’t handle it and that too, makes me cry.

Maybe this is just a season of feeling. Understanding that we are all vulnerable and that we are all afraid sometimes and that we all have something or someone to lose.
It’s a season of cleansing, cleaning out the cobwebs of our life. Taking stock of what’s important.

Yes, it hurts. Its painful to carry on when you’ve born the brunt of so much loss. Sometimes, it can make you feel guilty. I’ve experienced that. Feeling guilty for being happy when so many others are suffering. Your happiness shouldn’t be a source of personal guilt. It should be a light in the dark to those who can’t see the way.

beyond, death, faith

Letting in the light, mental wellness anthology

LETTING IN THE LIGHT – REVIEW

I have to admit, it took me a while to really sit down and read this book. I think mostly because of the subject of the book; mental wellness or if you like mental health. It shouldn’t be surprising that so many of us suffer with some form of mental terror; depression, anxiety and sometimes we deal with feelings, thoughts and situations that can’t be described. When I started reading Letting In The Light; I felt a sense of coming home, a feeling of being welcomed into someone’s heart with open arms.

The foreword by Pick Me Up Poetry founder, Webster Chagonda encompasses this feeling so well;

“Remember, darkness will always make way for the day, and wherever
your mind may lead you, I hope these poems become your place of
refuge.”

It’s difficult for me to tell which one of the poems are my favourite; there are pieces of each poem that speak directly to me.

They are all relatable and also somewhat confrontational but quite necessary,

“A fleeting moment of peace

as you cease to wonder when the next red drought will dry out this puddle

And if you won’t have drowned in the depth of your head until then”

girl, sitting, jetty

When I read through the poems, I realised that so many people understand the feelings and circumstances around one topic. I felt safe reading it and saying to myself, “It’s okay to feel this way”

It truly is a stunning body of work with a beautiful use of words, descriptive methods and metaphors. It is almost as if what you’re reading is being carved on your skin. That is how deep the words go.

“Everywhere you walk, you will be a constellation of footsteps”

The anthology sheds light on all the parts of your life that is affected by depression; your mind, body, soul, family, friends and your career an daily life.

“I am ready to recite myself into existence. I am ready to tell anxiety a prophecy even though I sometimes don’t believe”

I want to encourage you to get this book. The words will speak to us all differently and once you get into it, you’ll realise its not just a book you can read once off. You can always go back and remind yourself that you are not alone in your darkness when you feel overwhelmed.

I was bound by the plight of life and could not get away. I was blinded by the pain of this fight and could not see my way but I heard Hope’s gentle whistle and Joy’s hearty squeal, gently fanning the embers of my heart”

tree, nature, wood

Well done to all the poets who contributed their words, feelings and experiences to this book. Thank you for being brave and baring it all on the pages.

Congratulations to the publishers, Chasing Dreams Publishing and everyone who worked to put this amazing body of work together.

I give this book a 10/10!

violence against women, domestic, abuse

FOR THE WOMEN WHO CRIED

IT IS TIME


Tears cocoon fear
in the eyes of our girls
who were raised to conform
to the double standards set
who stalk the streets we walk
while chanting prayers
to reach home safely
It is time to undress
the targets from our bodies
we are not wounds
begging for attention
we are women
who demand the luxury
that safety has become
seeking justice for our sisters
who turned into statistics
The revolution we require
will not arise from complacency
it is time to raise our voices
and end the silence
it is time to stop
gender-based violence

clock, alarm, alarm clock

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH


The warrior bleeds
in every woman who fought
and cried and died beneath an armour
of battle scars after begging
for the basic human rights
she was denied
Carrying strength like a weapon
she faced oppression
injustice and men
without a moral compass
until her sword became the honour
they could not steal
Why are we quiet
when our warriors are bleeding
enough is enough
there must be a peak
in our silence
SCREAM
SCREAM
I stand together with
the women who fought
and the women who cried
the women who begged
and the women who died

eye, tear, cry

ABOUT THE POET – EKTA SOMERA

Ekta Somera is the author of Made in Poetry, a collection of poetry and prose. She is a part-time criminology major and a full-time visionary leader. From writing and reviewing books to hosting a radio show and making a difference, she fulfils her passion to inspire young people through various youth initiatives and community service.

Ekta lives by the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Hardcopies of Made in Poetry are available in South Africa, WhatsApp 067 909 1057 to order a copy at R280 with delivery.

Ekta with her book, “Made In Poetry”


The ebook is available on Kindle and Amazon worldwide at the cost of $4.99 

You can find Ekta here:

TWITTER: @madeinpoetry

INSTAGRAM: @ektasomera

Ekta’s poetry anthology
alpine-grass elke, flower, armeria alpina

LIVE AND LOVE LOUD

Watching Connie Ferguson at her husband’s funeral broke my heart. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to my husband of only 4 months, imagine the pain she feels of losing her best friend and life partner of 20 years. 
Death is such a painful experience and before I lost my mom, I couldn’t really relate to anyone who lost another person. I couldn’t understand that grief and pain. I couldn’t fathom the emptiness and now I see and feel it all around me, almost on a daily basis.

Shona and Connie Ferguson. Shona died this past week from Covid-19 complications

It’s painful to read, report or hear of someone dying, it’s heart-shattering. When someone you love dies, a part of you dies with them. There is constant emptiness, a dark and hollow feeling. You can never shake it and you live with it all your life. 
It rocks you to your core and breaks every resolve you’ve ever had. Then you have to rebuild. You need to start again. 

Something that is beautiful though is love, love makes the memories that you carry worth all the pain that you feel. Memories and the feelings associated with that person, makes it bearable. 

What this death has reminded me of, is that we run out of time.

We do not live forever.

The time that we have on this earth is more than precious, it is sacred. 

The people we have in our lives, the ones we love and cherish and adore, are the ones that deserve all that we have to offer. 

We cannot afford to be selfish and arrogant. We can’t live in a way where anger and hatred dominate our lives. 

Say ‘I love you’ as often as you can and mean it. 

Enjoy every minute you can breathe. 

Laugh as much as possible and love even more. 

Create art and enjoy it too. 


Live each moment as if it’s your last. It might sound like a cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true. 

coruh river, river, streaming
girl, sitting, jetty

LIVING IN A PERPETUAL STATE OF SADNESS

IT DOESN’T SEEM TO END, DOES IT?


Every single day we hear or read about someone dying. They become a number in the statistics and leave a hole in the hearts of people who loved them.
Every single day when we hear of someone losing their lives; whether to Covid-19 or something else, our hearts break a little more.
You don’t need to know the person who has died. You simply need to have a sense of humanity and compassion to know that somewhere in the world, someone is left reeling from the death of a loved one.

The entire world is sad. We feel it all around us and see it on the news, we hear it from strangers. We see it in the tear-filled eyes of our friends. Some of us live it daily. It doesn’t seem to end.


As I write this, I’m sitting in my kids’ bedroom, on the floor and the picture of my late mother is right in front of me. I moved it to their bedroom a couple of nights ago because my 6-year-old daughter was crying in her bed. After all, she was missing her Ouma. She too, is sad, having lost her grandmother just over a year ago.

woman sitting on wooden planks
Photo by Keenan Constance on Pexels.com


The sadness seeps into our lives, our work, creativity, our ability or lack thereof to be in social settings. It’s in our bodies and minds as we lay on the couch, watching yet another episode of a Netflix series that ends up adding to the melancholy.
You might think this post is so depressing but, the truth is, we are all living in a perpetual state of sadness. Denying that will do no good to anyone. It’s okay to be sad, don’t dismiss anyone’s feelings simply because it doesn’t fit into the narrative of the day.


But just because we are sad doesn’t mean we can’t have hope.