Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God – 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
He watched her, his brother’s widow. How he longed to take her in his arms, hold her and never let her go. Did anyone suspect as yet? Had he managed to hide it so well that no one had a clue? What would she do if she knew or even suspected that he was in love with her? He had been in love with her for years but it had been his guilty secret.
It was a secret he had confessed to God even though He already knew. Unable to bear it alone, he had poured out his heart to Him, begging to be free of a love which was tearing him up inside. It was becoming increasingly hard to be at family gatherings and act like nothing was wrong.
He avoided being alone with her because he was afraid that he would give himself away. He laughed and joked with his brother but deep down inside he resented him. He was jealous of him because he was married to the woman he loved.
He tried dating other women but the relationships never lasted. Sometimes, he had casual sex with women he met at parties or at other functions but he always felt disgusted with himself and them afterwards. No woman could make him forget the woman he loved. When he was in bed with the other women, far from forgetting her, he imagined that it was she whom he was making love to and felt guilty afterwards. He felt guilty because he was committing mental adultery with his brother’s wife.
Driven by despair, he decided that he would pack up and leave the city. Go somewhere far, perhaps to another state or country–as far away from her as possible. Then, tragedy struck the family. He was making his rounds in the hospital where he worked when he got the call. Kenneth had suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. By the time, he got there, his brother was dead.
The rest of the family was there consoling each other. He went to the room where Kenneth lay. It was a shock seeing him lying there. He stood there for a while, staring down at him, tears streaming down his face.
Then, she walked in. She went over to him and barely managed to say, “I’m so glad to see you,” before she broke down. He put his arms around her and held her until his father walked in. He immediately released his sister-in-law and walked out of the room. He went outside to get a breath of air. When he returned, his mother asked if he would take Bolade home. “Stay with her for a while,” she told him. “She shouldn’t be alone right now.”
He agreed to take his sister-in-law home and stayed with her until Sandra, a next door neighbor went over. She hugged them both. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” she said.
“Thank you,” he said.
“I had to come over as soon as I heard the news. When I lost my husband, Bolade and Kenneth were so kind to me. They helped me to get through the most horrible time in my life. It’s true what the Bible says. When we have been through a loss, we can help others who are going through the same thing. We can comfort each other.” She sat on the sofa beside Bolade and put her arm around her shoulder. “I’ll stay with you, Honey for as long as you need.”
“Thank you, Sandra,” Bolade said, smiling through her tears.
“Can I fix you two anything?” Sandra asked.
“I’m not hungry,” Bolade said.
“I’m not hungry either,” he said.
When he was saying goodbye to Bolade, she gripped his hands tightly. “Morgan, will you come and see me before the funeral?” she asked.
“Of course, I will,” he promised.
Grateful, she hugged him and then, he left. He visited her as often as he could before the funeral and here he was now, watching her as she stood at the graveside. She looked so small and vulnerable, her bowed, hands clasped tightly in front of her. She and Kenneth dated for seven years and were married for four. They didn’t have any children.
For some reason, as he stood there, still trying to come to terms with Kenneth’s death, he thought of the Jewish custom in which the brother of a deceased man was obliged to marry his brother’s widow. If his family were Jewish instead of Christian, he would be expected to marry Bolade in order to in order to continue the family line seeing that he was his parents’ only son now.
Angry with himself, he pushed all thoughts of marrying Bolade out of his head. She looked up then and their eyes met. The expression on her face tugged at his heart. He went over to her. She seemed grateful to have him so close and she reached for his hand, holding it tightly. “It was a good turn out, wasn’t it? she asked.
“Yes, it was.”
“Ken had a lot of friends. People liked and respected him.”
“I still can’t believe that he’s gone. He was still so young.”
Kenneth was forty-five years old when he died. He was ten years older than him and eight years older than her. Growing up, he had always respected his brother and saw him as the role model of a hard-working and successful African American man. His career as a powerful attorney and recently appointed Judge inspired him to pursue his own dream of becoming a doctor.
“Are you going to come to the house later?” Bolade asked him. Her parents were staying with her. They had flown from Abuja. He hadn’t seen them since the wedding.
“Yes, I’ll come.”
She squeezed my hand. “You know if it weren’t for God and you, I wouldn’t be able to get through this. He’s my Rock and you’re my comfort.”
He put his arm around her shoulders and held her close. “I’ll always be here for you,” he said quietly.
She rested her head against his chest and closed her eyes. “I know. If anything were to happen to you too, I don’t know what I would do.”
“Nothing will happen to me, Bolade. I promise.”
“I love you, Morgan.”
He closed his eyes briefly. Although the words made his heart skip a beat, he knew she meant that she loved him as a brother. “And I love you, Bolade.” He knew that she would think he meant that he loved her as a sister. And for now, that was okay with him. Hopefully, in time, he would be able to tell her how he really felt about her and maybe, by the grace of God, she would feel the same.