Broken and empty.
That sums up how Olivia Merriman Mukoro, the wife of missing British visitor Jay Merriman Mukoro feels at the moment.
Jay went missing on Sunday around 2 p.m. while the two were spending time on Rockley Beach in Christ Church.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY at the Christ Church hotel where she’s staying with her two sisters and parents, Olivia recalled her last moments with her husband before he disappeared.
Olivia said the waves were high but there was a yellow flag on the sand and a lot of people on the beach that day, adding that Jay was usually very careful and would not go swimming too far out.
She said it was only 15 minutes that passed between the time he went into the water and she realised he was missing.
Olivia was sitting on the shore just in front of the lifeguard’s hut.
“I was looking at him initially as he walked into the water and I had a book which I looked down at for a while. Then when I looked up I couldn’t see him any more. I thought he must have just been out of my sight and then I saw someone who I thought was him and so I read my book a little bit more. Then I looked up and I saw the person and realized they had a different build and it wasn’t him. It was at that point I started getting worried and I got up and started looking up and down. Then I started to panic because I was looking and wasn’t seeing him on the beach,” recalled the psychologist.
The search for Jay lasted “until it got dark” on Sunday night.
Olivia said she was told that usually a body would be carried to a certain point so it was strange that he could not be found, if it was that he drowned.
“They have been looking since then and did not find anything. So they tell me they are still looking,” added Olivia, who has been in constant contact with the lifeguard, police officers and other authorities.
“There is not much hope, but there is a tiny glimmer that some miraculous thing has happened that we can’t conceive of and that somehow he is somewhere and that is why we are making posters to put those around. I am feeling incredibly lost, in shock and in pain. There is always that possibility of a miracle. It is a desperate time.”
Making an appeal, Olivia added: “If anybody sees someone looking too injured or confused and in need of help, anyone that looks disorientated. We have the pictures online and we will be putting up more pictures, contact the Worthing Police Station [at 430-7614]”.
But acknowledging that there might be no happy ending, Olivia said if her worst fear was realized, she would just like to take Jay’s body back to Britain for a memorial service “so that people who love him and respect him can be there and celebrate his life and grieve together”.
As to whether she would return to Barbados, Olivia was divided: “Because every time I go to the beach this grief just comes up. So maybe I would want to come back and revisit but . . . I don’t know”.
Jay’s disappearance came at a time when he and his wife, married just last September, were “imagining our life together, our future, our children together.”
“It was a very precious time for us being here together because Jay is working on a documentary for BBC Scotland. He was in Glasgow so we haven’t seen each other for a while so this time for us was about reconnecting,” Olivia reminisced.
“It is just tragic for me.”
This was the couple’s first time to Barbados. They came to attend a wedding and Jay, a journalist with the BBC for the past ten years, was also working on a documentary.
They arrived in the island last Wednesday and were due to leave yesterday.
Olivia said her family as well as officials here have been very supportive.
“My family has been amazing. I feel broken and empty and at lost and so they are carrying me. They are helping in every way, giving me emotional help,” she said, adding that as soon as her parents heard what happened to Jay they got on the next available flight out of London and arrived around 2 a.m. on Monday. Her sisters arrived yesterday afternoon.
As she reflected on her five-year relationship with Jay, who is originally from Nigeria, Olivia said her husband was special, inspiring, passionate and loving, and his disappearance was “a huge loss” for the family, his job and friends.
One of Jay’s close friends and colleagues, commissioning editor at the BBC, Tony Phillips, told Barbados TODAY his professional bond with Jay grew quickly over the years.
Saying he was impressed with Jay’s work, Phillips said: “He charms all who come into contact with him, with his inquisitive nature and thoughtfulness to others. If only more of us journalists or otherwise, could be like him. Jay is always kind and never less than polite.”