Kasie: Loss, Love & Life
Kasie is an Igbo word that means “be comforted”. This best explains the central theme of this book. Somehow, life and providence comfort us. The book is divided into three parts. It starts with an introduction written in the form of letters. They speak of pain and the quest for answers. Titled, ‘Flashes of Pain’, it is more about the tortured soul of a grieving dad. It captures my struggles and feelings for my daughter. Part two is titled, ‘Love’ and contains my thoughts and words about love and the many ways it manifested in my life. Part three, ‘Utopia’, contains poems related to my views on life and what life means to me. It tells the story of my life with my kids. Some of the works here are just words. They may not fit the tag of poetry but they are my unvarnished words in their rawest form. I decided to do this collection for two reasons – I do not ever want the world to forget my daughter. In these words, here, I celebrate her short life. I celebrate my love for her and the joy she brought to my heart. The second reason is that I hope that by reading this book, it may comfort those going through pain and help others to understand the pain of loss, especially the loss of a child. The biggest pain of loss is the loneliness you feel in the midst of a crowd because they cannot contemplate what you are going through. I am also hoping that the life lessons that I share, may find home in some other hearts.
On August 28, 2016, my second daughter, Natasha Nkem Ilo drowned in a swimming pool. Our world crashed, our faith sank, and our life paused. Four months earlier, I had lost my dad. What followed after my daughter’s death was a tortured journey of survival, self-blame, frustration, and hopelessness. I did not know we would still be standing today. I remember wishing so earnestly for death. Even contemplated running my car off the road to avoid the pain. Everybody around me was in pain. Perhaps, the most heartbreaking reality was the pain of my wife and my daughter. It hurt that I could not help them. During this period, I took time to reflect on life in a whole different way. Things I wrote before assumed a new meaning but most importantly, I reflected on my own mortality; what was important in life; and what I want to be my legacy. I poured out my pains as raw as they were in writing. It was my only escape and my only therapy. This book is a collection of my thoughts before and after my family tragedy.
Udo Jude Ilo