On 18th April 2017, on a day like this; my mother’s body was lying in the hospital bed. Barely half a live.
Her chest heaving and writhing in pain like of a young kid experiencing an asthma attack.
Her skin dark and soft. And her cheeks sunken — so deep that you’d see her cheekbones and jaws protrude in skeleton forms.
Unlike when I last saw and talked to her in the same corner hospital bed; this time she could not even open her eyes to look at me.
She was half dead.
I touched her feet and they were cold. But in faith and hope in the God who heals the sick, I kept telling myself, mama would be fine.
Mama would walk again. She would beat cancer and come back home — because even when that pain in her liver was so intense , she kept wishing she’d come back home.
Visiting hours ended and I left.
I had to sleep early to wake up for the first flight to Nairobi.
That’s what my new schedule had been since she got admitted to that hospital.
Work in Nairobi from Monday to Friday, take a flight to Kisumu on Friday evening and fly back to Nairobi on Monday morning to get to work.
But this day would be different.
I’d receive a scary call in the middle of the night that we had lost her. She was no more. Her lungs had stopped and her heart dried out.
I lost it. I froze. And I did not cry. I didn’t even wake wife. And for the rest of that night I sat in the dark.
In my living room — not feeling the bites of the hungry lakeside mosquitoes or hearing their buzz.
My mind did not think of anything but those last moments.
I kept blaming myself why I did not try to have a conversation with her. Why I did not just assume that she was listening to me and told her anything.
The why’s kept dominating my mind
My heart became heavy with sadness. Sorrow. Grief. And agony.
At the break of dawn we went to the hospital to move the body to the morgue. And just when I saw my brother peter and other men lift that lifeless body, I broke into tears.
I could not hold it any longer
I had never known a friend so dear like this woman.
Why had she gone so soon? Why?
Who was she leaving me with? Would I ever see her again. I looked at her corpse and cried for her. Not ashamed of who was looking.
I had lost a friend. A mother. A dear one for that matter.
And the most painful part? I never got the chance to tell her goodbye.
Tomorrow we will celebrate her life. A memorial mass will be celebrated in her name.
And when that happens, I want to teach you a few things I learnt from my mother’s stage 4 cancer condition.
9 Life Lessons Learnt From My Mother’s Stage 4 Cancer Condition
Help People When You Can And You’ll be Helped When You Can’t
There is no time that I walked to my mother’ hospital room and did not find an old friend visiting. There was always someone with her.
- Encouraging her,
- praying with her
- or sometimes feeding her.
At one point when the hospital bills were too much, one of her friends just surprised us to clear it all.
Now, I am not sure how mama helped this woman when she was alive; or if she even helped her, but if she did; her good deed was paid with a good deed in return.
2. Some People Will Try to Take Advantage of Your Situation. Don’t Let Them
Because of my mother’s sickness I met very many people I would never have met – friends, family and enemies alike.
You would imagine that everyone was here to offer support.
However. Financial or emotional we needed it.
Turns out other people came to exploit though.
To take advantage of the situation and recommend some herbal product which by the way, they used on their sickling grandfather who still died anyway.
And you wonder what impact there medicine would have made. It’s such people that I want to see today and beat up.
3. Your Mother Will Always Be Your Mother – But Let Your Dad be Your Daddy too
Have you ever been loved, so much that you felt loved?
That’s how I felt when I was around my mother.
And because she let me know everyday that she loved me; I’ve kept memories of us until back when I was 3 years old.
When on my first day I came back from school and I sat on her laps.
And she hugged me like you would hug someone you missed.
Our bond was so strong that I told her things African men would only tell their dads. And now that she is gone and I have no one else to confide in-with-so-much confidence like I did in her, I waste daily.
I made it so much about mommy for so long that I’m still struggling to talk to daddy when I have personal issues.
4. A Family That Prays Together Stays Together
Have you ever been pushed so far to the wall that you saw the hand of God stretched towards you?
For the longest time we did not pray. We took life casually. And when my mother wanted to go to church, she’d go alone. Because hey,
We knew that she prayed for everyone in the family and though that that was enough.
But not until she was bedridden and no one prayed for us.
Then one day we decided to gather as a family (my father and us) – to try this thing called prayer and we held hands and prayed.
Even though our prayer did not heal her, that coming together and holding made us stronger than before.
5. Cancer Hospitals in Kisumu Are a Scam
Don’t be lied to that there is a cancer hospital in Kisumu.
Those cancer hospitals are just present to collect your money while keeping your patient stuffed on morphine.
6. Relationship Matters – Important Life Lesson
There are times after I moved out that my mother called just to say Hi.
Sometimes she also called to know how my day had been.
And other times she just called for no reason at all.
It’s at those times that she’d say, “Adwa mana winjo duondi.” I just wanted to hear your voice then she’d hang up.
Looking back at it, I feel like sometimes I took those calls for granted
I did not pick when I was “busy”. And I didn’t call back when I “forgot.”
Today though, even if for a minute I’d put her before work, before my blog, before my computer and before anything else.
7. Your Kids Aren’t You – Important Life Lesson
Among the people who stayed by the bedside of my my sickling mum was my maternal grandmother.
Ever so often she lamented why cancer had to take her daughter so soon.
What she didn’t realize is, she isn’t mama.
She loved her, supported her, stayed by her side. To the end. But couldn’t change her. It was mama’s life to live. And now she was living the last moments.