I picked up the phone one day, while I was at my friend’s apartment, and it happened to be my dad on the other end of the call. “Mommy is coming to America in a few weeks,” he said to me. “Why? Is everything okay?”
“Everything will be okay; she just needs to come and carry out some tests.” “Okay daddy no problem.” I responded. We had just returned from Nigeria, a couple of weeks before I got that call, and I was wondering what could have possibly gone wrong.
So I informed my friends that my mom was coming over, and I will have to spend some time with her in California. That summer had some damp feeling to it, I felt something wasn’t right, but no one was really telling myself and my brother the actual story. They kept it from us because they did not know how we were going to handle our mother’s ailment, which happened out of the blue.
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I took a trip to California to be with my mother, while she underwent a series of tests. One day while we were in the room, she said she wanted to tell me something. My heart rate increased rapidly, as I thought to myself, what could be wrong? Plus I was also hunted by the dreams I had earlier on that year, which showed I was going to lose my mother. “Evi” she began, “I have stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, the doctors are trying all they can to treat it.” She then went ahead to show me the infected breast, and it was already deformed.
In Nigeria, the doctors had said they were going to perform surgery to take it out; but by the time she got to the US, the doctors revealed that there was no point as the cancer had already spread to her bones. Then they advised that she’d started chemo and radiotherapy treatments immediately, at least to prolong her life for a couple more months. It wasn’t looking good at all.
I quickly cast my mind back to when herself and her sisters were giving themselves breast exams, wondering what this “cancer” thing was, and we had no clue that it already existed in her body; that innocent joke her and her sisters played, soon became our reality. I was in shock and did not know what to do; I assured her that all was going to be well, and immediately turned to God, to heal my mother completely of this deadly disease. I stayed with her for the rest of the summer but had to return to school when the fall semester began. As a family we believed and trusted God that she would get better. She was in constant communication with our pastor in Nigeria, who always encouraged and prayed for her.
I spoke to her almost every day, just to make sure she was doing well, and most of the times, I had no fear. I was waiting for her to finish up her chemo treatments, then move down to Louisiana, and be with my brother and me, until she got better. But her situation worsened. I started noticing that she was no longer calling me; if I wanted to speak with her, I did all the calling.
That worried me a lot, but I brushed it off, as much as I could. Now I know she was probably battling with depression, as most cancer patients turn into a recluse during the later stages of their disease. At that moment, I was also going through some relationship issues with my then-boyfriend; I eventually broke up with him but wanted to get back together, and he refused. Plus dealing with engineering, in my junior year wasn’t a joke either.
My father had planned to visit California in December of 2009, and we were going to travel to California as well, to spend Christmas with them. One day while I was studying for my finals that semester, I got a call from my mother, and I was so happy she had called. She kept on coughing on the phone, and couldn’t get a word in. I just tried to get her to calm down, and not stress herself so much.
“I will see you soon mommy” I said to her, “when Ufuoma, and I are done with our exams, we will come to California.” “Okay sweetheart, no problem.” And we ended our conversation. But something about that phone call wasn’t right. After our exams, she became hospitalized, as she contracted pneumonia. As soon as we landed in LA, we went straight to her hospital in San Bernardino, to see her.
I walked into her room, and tried so hard to fight back the tears; from that moment on, I knew I was never going to leave her side. “Evi I like your hair oh, it has grown.” She said to me.
“Mommy how are you doing?” I asked her with tears in my eyes, “I am okay; I am so happy to see you both.” Her nurse then came into the room, to clean her up, and I asked for my brother to excuse us since she wanted to use to bathroom. As soon as she came out of the bathroom, she fell right to the ground, by then the nurse had left—“Ufuoma! Ufuoma!” and he came running into the room. His first instinct was to come help lift her, but I shouted for him to get the nurses. So they came running into the room and helped carry her to her bed.
Our hearts were so broken, and my aunt, who my mom was staying with, while in California, advised that we ask our dad to make it down to LA, as quickly as possible, because the doctors said she wasn’t going to be here by the weekend. I made the call to my father and asked him to leave all he was doing and get on the next thing smoking to America.
Sorrow Upon Sorrow
There was a point in apostle Paul's life where he was going through many trials and tribulations. One of his friends fell terribly ill, and he thought the guy was going to die. In Philippians 2:27 he said "For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only him but me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." Sorrow upon sorrow was something my family had been through from 2000-2009, but not without God's faithfulness. In the midst of all the pain, we had many wins and the strength to keep moving forward.
“Why are you crying?” she said to me one day—“I am not crying mommy” I answered her, leaning over her bed, trying to fit it into the elevator, as we made our way to the X-ray room, for her to get an X-ray done. “No, you are crying!” She answered me. So I wiped my tears. While leaning over her, some part of my cleavage was showing, and she attempted to pull my top up.
“This woman, it’s like you don’t know the gravity of what is going on, that you are more concerned about the way I look.” I pondered in my mind. She was more concerned about us; about her children, she was going to leave behind, about my cousins; who lost their dad (Uncle David) and mom just a year before my mother was now fighting for her life, and were distributed to different parts of Nigeria to live with relatives. She was worried for my father and how he would be able to handle her departure, if it came to that and quite frankly, I was too.
If I had decided to practice medicine after the one week I spent with my mother at the hospital; I like to think I would have been very successful at it. I watched the nurses closely as they did their job, and didn’t wait for them to check her blood pressure and other things the machines that were hooked up to her was supposed to do. I recorded whatever numbers I knew they would ask for, before they came into her room, and gave it to them.
I made sure she did her breathing exercises and fed her with jellos as that was the only thing she could ingest at the time. I read the bible to her, and confessed God’s word over her; I never failed to cover her with kisses, pull my bed as close as possible to hers, just so I could touch her and prayed for her fervently each day. Even when the doctors came with bad reports, I told them I believed God would heal her.
I became this bold 21-year-old, who refused to accept no for an answer. Although she had come to a resolve within herself that she was leaving, as she spoke these painful, yet very loving words to my aunt—“Please take care of my children.”
Along Comes Daddy
Finally some relief! I thought to myself as we journeyed to pick up my father from LAX. “So Evi, how is mommy doing? Is she going to make it? I have already spoken to the doctors in Nigeria, and I think we are going to fly her back home and get her ready for palliative care.”
My father bombarded me with questions, on our ride from the airport to the hospital and I was so upset at the questions—“daddy she is not even conscious anymore, you can’t take her back to Nigeria. The doctors are saying that she won’t be here by Saturday. When you get to the hospital, you will see her.”
I said back to him in an angry tone. It’s like he was not aware of what we were dealing with. He left me alone, completely understanding why I felt the way I did. It was so much for me to handle, and all I wanted for her to do was to live.”
When we got to the hospital, we all gave him his moment as he entered into her room. “Your husband is here” we said to her, and she moved her body a little bit as if to say “okay, I can feel his presence.” After some time, I went back to check in on them, and he just sat on the chair with his head down.
He tried to console Ufuoma and me, by saying he knew how it felt like to lose a parent, because he lost his mom at 28. He had never shared this with us before, and I could hear the crack in this voice, as if he was about to cry. He just said that if she passed away, we would be okay.
One night I was woken out of my sleep all of a sudden because I could hear the discomfort my mother was dealing with. She was trying to pull out all the stuff attached to her, and I was trying to stop her. You wouldn’t blame her; she just wanted to be at peace.
I ran around her bed, trying to turn her over, and stop her from harming herself, but became exhausted in trying to do so. By then the nurse came into the room, and just held me, while I broke down in her arms, she quickly grabbed some tissue and asked if I had eaten—“how can I eat, when my mother can’t even speak? What is food going to do for me?” I had lost a lot of weight in that period, so much so that I had to go shopping for new clothes when I eventually returned to Lafayette.
“You have to take care of yourself, so you don’t fall sick as well. Your mom will be okay, regardless of the outcome.” The kind nurse said to me. Then she handed me some cookies to eat. My phone kept on ringing non-stop, as my mother’s siblings who couldn’t make it to America at the time, wanted to find out about her well-being. “Aunty, she is fine; we are trusting God for a turnaround.” “Uncle she will be okay, just keep praying.”
The Beginning of The End
They had to move her to the ICU, because by this time, she could no longer breathe or do anything on her own, her organs were beginning to shut down one by one, and she had to be put on life support. At that moment, it was just my brother and I in the room with her; I really don’t remember how we found our way to each other, locked ourselves up in an embrace, and started weeping. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” I said to him through my tears.
It was clear to us at that point that it was only God who could reverse her situation; no nurse, physician or expert could do anything for us. One of our uncles came into the room, wondering why we had not yet come out and saw us holding ourselves and crying and joined us. I can only imagine she was standing at a distance watching us weep, while unable to do anything to alleviate our sorrow; just the way I had seen it in my dream. But the worst was yet to come.
I ran into my father’s room early in the morning, I could barely get any sleep the night before, as the phone kept ringing off the hook. “Daddy where are you off to?” I asked he was acting a bit confused, making his bed, putting on his shirt, and going back to make an already made bed. “We are heading to the hospital” He replied. Breathing heavily; my heartbeat became faster than usual just like when she revealed to me she had terminal cancer, feeling like I was going to have a panic attack, while summoning all the courage within myself to ask this one question—“is she still alive?” to which he responded, I don’t think so.
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About The Author: Evi Idoghor is a Christian, writer, and content creator on Letstalknationblog.com. She is a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Consumed by her love for writing and desire to effect change, she launched her online platform––Let’s Talk Nation––to tap into her creativity and start meaningful conversations that would make a difference around the world.
Most of her writing has been influenced by her time spent in America, where she lived for about 11 years. Also, she lived in Nigeria and South Korea and currently loves traveling the world while learning about other fascinating cultures. You can find her on all social media platforms with @eviidoghor.