Some things are not worth crying over The hot African sun beat down mercilessly on us as we stood in line outside grandma’s house. A…
On Monday night I stayed with her for an hour after visiting time had ended. The nurses didn’t kick me out when they came to give her morphine at 20:30. They gave her another drug as well, as she was in so much pain. I almost couldn’t bear to watch as she moaned and cried like a child.
Fortunately, the morphine kicked in quite quickly and soon the cries quietened. I held her hand all the time to comfort her and didn’t stop praying. I wouldn’t stop praying. God just had to show up and show his power, I challenged him.
I asked her if she wanted anything.
I held her tightly and she whispered, “I love you.”
“I love you too sweetheart.”
I could see her eyelids drooping.
“I’m sleepy,” she said.
“Okay sweetheart, you can go to sleep now.”
I made sure she was comfortable and that everything she needed was within her reach. Slowly, I removed her glasses then kissed her on the forehead. I wrote a short note which I placed by her bed.
I love you.
I wanted it to be the first thing she saw when she woke up.
I walked out of the room and quietly closed the door behind me. Away from her, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. This was the weekend we had planned to spend together.
“You’re always working and I never get to see you,” she’d complained, “and next week you’re going away.”
“I have an idea. When I get back, I will spend at least one weekend a month with you.”
“I’m serious. And you know what else we’ll do?”
“No. Tell me so we’ll both know.”
“We’ll come here to the park. I’ll tie a yellow ribbon around…
“...the old oak tree.”
“There are no oak trees around here sweetheart. I was going to say I’ll tie one around a pine bough by this tree.”
“You’re crazy as hell you know that?”
“I love you too!”
The consultant wanted to start her on a new drug which had been successfully administered to the first group of patients. As the treatment was still new there was a lot of press interest.
While abroad, I kept up to date with the news on the drug’s performance and called her daily to find out how she was doing. She always sounded positive and in good spirits.
On the day of my return home, I woke up to a bright, beautiful morning. I quickly grabbed my phone to text her. “Good morning, your highness,” I teased. I expected a chiding in her reply. When I got no response, I wasn’t worried, just concerned. I was looking forward to seeing her again. That was enough to keep me in a good mood.
I was about to turn off the television and leave for the airport when the news anchor announced breaking news which had me morphing from joy to anger. Patients receiving treatment were experiencing adverse symptoms.
Truth be told, the real reason for my anger was fear. Pure fear in its rawest form. Fear of losing the love of my life. When I noticed that she still hadn’t responded to my text message I tried calling but the phone went to voicemail. Panic gripped me.
The 10-hour flight felt like 24 hours. When I landed I hired a taxi to take me to the hospital. The taxi driver offered me a newspaper to read and asked what radio station I wanted to listen to. I politely declined both offers. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. The taxi driver didn’t give up. “It’s unbelievable what these pharmaceutical companies do - treating people like animals. Murderers! Now those poor patients on that new drug have all died.”
When I woke up in a hospital bed I wasn’t sure why I was there. I must have fainted. When I remembered the reason, the raw pain of loss cut like a knife. In desperation, I called her number hoping that someone would answer and tell me what was going on. It only went to voicemail. I was detained in hospital for over a week following allegations that, when staff wouldn’t give me details about her, I had become extremely aggressive thus endangering my life and that of others.
Shortly after being discharged I moved to another part of town to help me cope with my loss and the devastation I felt.
That was three years ago.
Today I decided to visit the park again. I thought I might tie a yellow ribbon around a pine bough so she’d know I remember her. On the grass, a pine bough with a yellow ribbon tied around it caught my eye. It was too much for me. I sat down with my head in my hands and cried.
I don’t know how long I was there but a tap on my shoulder brought me out of my stupor.
“Hello!” It wasn’t an illusion. It was really her. She encircled me with her arms and gave me big hug.
I was relieved to learn that at the last minute she had declined to take the drug and opted for alternative therapy instead.
“It was working very well and I wanted to keep it as a surprise until I was fully recovered.”
“Why didn’t you get in touch?”
“On the day of your return, I accidentally dropped my phone in the bathtub. I couldn’t reach you for a whole week after that. Your phone just went to voicemail. Later I heard you had moved away. I figured you didn’t want to be with someone with health issues. But I couldn’t forget you.”
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