I lay awake in bed that morning watching the day light peak through the grey curtains that hang from my bedroom window. The birds outside excitedly chipping as if to encourage us, that were still locked inside to come out and play. I was longing to climb out of bed. But I had to wait for her to walk in, carefully at first, to avoid startling us awake. Not so much that I had to, but more because I wanted to. And true to my prediction, my mother soon opened the door to the chamber I shared with my sister, Beth. I shut my eyes to pretend I was still asleep. Lying on my back with my face facing the ceiling, she could see that I was pretending to still be asleep.
I am a lousy liar. So I was not able to keep up the act too long. I could feel her gaze while waiting for me to break. She was right because soon, my lips broke into a smile. I opened one eye to peek up at her. My mom was now smiling down at me. “Good morning, it is time to get up.” She said. Without hesitation, I jumped out of bed and followed her down the flight of stairs into the dining area, for breakfast. My sister, still deep in slumber was left to sleep a while longer. She would join us later.
It was over the school holidays, so we had a full house. My older brother, my older sister whom I follow and finally, the youngest in the family. He was an adorable baby. His fair skin and huge brown eyes made it impossible to resist him. I had still not fully warmed up to him… I felt he stole all the attention with his arrival in the family. Took away my justification for throwing tantrums as the last born. But my mother seemed to love and care for him deeply. She was my best friend, so I never wanted to upset her by upsetting the baby. Well I tried not to for the most of it.
I was happy to sit with my mom and small brother to have breakfast. He was only three at the time and now sat on my mom’s lap being fed breakfast. I was seven, so I fed myself just fine. Little to my knowledge, this would be the last morning I got to share breakfast with mom. Eighteen years after as I now write about this memory, my eyes get teared up. A clear indication that I still get emotional thinking about her, my mom. My once best friend. So, I cry in silence and blow my nose as if it were just yesterday, when all this happened.
After breakfast, my mother guided us to the full bath upstairs that we all shared, for a bath. We were often playful and laughed at each other’s lathered face. But my mom had to try and limit movement while in the bathtub to avoid any accidents. Her icy stare in my direction meant that her patience was wearing thin. It was directed at me since my younger brother always followed my lead. Getting me to behave meant we both got in line. My sister, now up, was somewhere in the house. My eldest brother, our family’s first born was locked up in his room downstairs as usual. All morning’s chores successfully completed by my mom.
I was sat outside in the upstairs balcony soaking in the sun, when I heard what sounded like someone was chocking on something in the bathroom. I rushed to find out what was happening. The door was unlocked so I slowly got in… unsure of what I would find at the other side of the door. Boy, was I not ready for what I saw next! My mother stood over the toilet, supporting herself with one hand against the wall, the other held the sink on her right. Her face was looking down at the toilet seat to spit. I walked around her to look at her face just when she started to throw up blood. Her face was pale with pain and the loss of blood. Her eyes were bloodshot and moist. Her black silky hairs stuck to her temple from sweat. I was terrified at what I saw as I stared up to her. She must have been in so much pain, because she did not even notice I was there. All the days growing up with her, I had never seen her ill or weak. She never complained of being tired. Mom never slowed down going about her business. She was always taking care of all of us.
After she threw up again, she finally looked to her side to see me standing there, staring. She tried her best to fake a smile and said, “Don’t worry mommy is fine. I just ate something bad” A clear lie of course. I was not old enough to understand what was going on, but I could tell something was terribly wrong. I helped her back to the bedroom and had her sit on the edge of the bed. I then left to find the rest of my siblings. Each one of their faces changed at the sight of mom’s state. It wasn’t long before she had to be helped back to the bathroom to throw up again.
My brother called my dad at work and explained to him that mom was very ill. I remember right before my dad got home to take her to hospital, my mom asked us to say a prayer. She was deeply religious. My sister prayed to God saying it was okay if he wanted mom to come home. My eyes flew wide open as I stared at her thinking, “what did you just say? God has all the angels to keep him company already! Why do you want him to take the only company I have? We all have?” I was mad at her prayer! When my dad finally came to take mom to hospital, we stood watching them from the upstairs balcony as they went. Watching on while he supported mom to get into the car. That is the last time I saw her alive.
My biggest what if in life has been what if mom survived to live for many more years? To see her children grown into young adults? Would I be the same person I am today? Would life as we know it be the same? Would she still be married to dad? So many unanswered questions!
Well if you were to ask me, the biggest mistake we all do is think that tomorrow is guaranteed. It is not. So, my question to you is, what if you had only today to live, what have you been holding off on doing that you finally get to do? What if you stopped doubting yourself so much and just went after your dreams? Yes, I know it is scary to think of failure, but there is not one successful person I know that did not fail. Failing is payment for the transaction of a successful person’s life. What if you finally walked away from the bad relationship, would you finally meet the love of your life? Only way to know is by taking the risk and trading what you know as being comfortable for the unknown.
I have learnt so much this year. Some of which I have shared on this blog. But the best lesson I have come to learn is to turn my ‘what ifs’ into ‘do it.’
On the final day of 2018, I want to wish you the best as you usher in the new year. But next year will be the exact same if you are stubborn about holding on to your what ifs. That is no way to live. I once heard the Motivational coach, Leslie Brown say that a lot of people die at the age of twenty-five but are only buried at the age of sixty. Do not become one of them.
Happy New year from me,