I was on my bed in my room at school trying to read for a GST 101 use of library test I had two days away, I was doing that when my phone rang, it was Dad.
“Hello Daddy, good afternoon”
“Yeah, could you come home please?”
“Ah! Hope there is no problem? You don’t sound okay and you are telling me to come home. How is Mum, is she okay?”
“Titi just come, you’d understand everything then”.
He hung up, I was confused, I was trying to guess what could possibly be wrong. Immediately I started preparing to leave.
I was really curious, and was at the peak of my suspense as I pulled out my box from the trunk of the vehicle, I couldn’t imagine what was going on. “Lord please don’t let it be outrageous”, I muttered silently as I approached the door.
As I opened the door of the house the breeze I felt wasn’t a good indication at all, the atmosphere was tensed, yeah, I could feel the tension in the air. Dad was just sitting next to Mum and they were both staring blankly. After a cold exchange of pleasantries, I sat on one of the cushion chairs, from the look on their faces especially Mum’s, I sensed weeping preceded my arrival.
The silence was lasting for too long so I decided to break it. “Yes Dad, I know all is not well, so please just spill it. Mum please tell me what’s up”. Dad was still clearing his throat when Mum pulled a piece of paper out of her bag, as she was trying to give it to me, she burst into tears, I was still in my confusion when I collected the paper from her. Could it be a retrenchment letter? Or what could be this bad, I wondered as I was opening it up.
I was reading something that seemed to me like a hospital report, what I was seeing was not appealing so I wore my glass to be double sure I was seeing well, and yes it was the same. I couldn’t believe what was in my hands so I dropped it.
“Mum I don’t understand!”
Dad was now ready to speak, “Yeah, your Mum has breast cancer, and the doctor made us understand that it was discovered very late, she called it stage four”. I adjusted my glasses and sat up holding the throw pillow tight to my chest, Dad continued “Mrs Dennis also said the cancer had spread beyond control and that your Mum is left with……..” Dad could hold it back no more, as he burst into tears too. He didn’t finish his statement and I needed to hear it. “Dad, Mum’s left with what?”. I could hear my voice shake as I spoke.
“Mum’s left with just seven days.”
The feeling I had at that moment is what I can’t explain right now, but I know I didn’t scream and I didn’t cry, I was just still and lifeless in that cushion. My screaming and wailing begun in full about 30 minutes later, Dad and Mum left for their room, and at this point my tear glands were 100% exhausted, but the wailing continued, I looked at the wall clock opposite me and it was just 3;00 pm, but everywhere had already gone dark in my vision. I couldn’t see, think of or hear anything else except.
“Mums left just seven days”.
I never anticipated this at all, it felt like a nightmare, I was in the midst of thick darkness and I couldn’t see any light, still in the parlour, I turned to God. “God, you see me yes I know you do, you see my absolute confusion. God I don’t just know to say my heart is totally overwhelmed.” I paused to wail some more “where do I start from? How do I cope in Mummy’s absence? You didn’t even give me a signal, I couldn’t even get a blurred picture of this in my wildest imagination,” I heaved a sigh. “God please help Me”. After the prayer I couldn’t hear anything but I felt much better the load was taken off my mind a bit and I got a little strength to push my school loads to my room.
After changing my dress I just hit the bed.
* * *
“Titi, wake up the table is set.”
It was Dad, we had all forgotten about hunger or food all that was before us was how to sail through this glooming seven days and the ocean beyond this. Dad had gone to fix dinner for the family, and that seemed to me like a forehand practice as it was obvious there wouldn’t be any” dear” to cook for him very soon.
At the table we were all quiet and no one would eat well then Mum broke the silence” dear thanks for this lovely meal”. “oh, you are welcome”.
I don’t know why that moved me but I couldn’t hold by the hot tear that trickled down my cheek Dad was now trying his best not to join his wife who had already joined me in crying in crying. Dad said “so how do we spend the remaining six days? We obviously wouldn’t be wise to spend our last days with her mourning her death, that could wait no one said anything, Dad was right but how do we stay the same when our hearts are in depths of sorrow. For the very first time I saw something good in the whole situation.
“Mum I am going to have 19 years to live with you, is only painful that I am going to loose you soon”. I was fighting real hard with the tears, but I continued….The truth is you were the type of mother I wish to be like. At this point everyone’s cutleries were dropping and the tears followed suit, My Mum stood up from her sit and as she approached me that day at the table. I saw a conqueror and a hero gradually fade into eternity she hugged me tight, Dad hugged the two of us. Mum cried on Dad’s shoulder while I cried on hers.
It was a dinner like no other, in just that dinner of thirty minutes a lot was held in it for each of us, we prayed together as a family and everyone went to bed. That was the end of the first day. Although we all went to our rooms I don’t think anyone slept that night.