As I drove, a million and one thoughts ran through my head each thought colliding with the other. Even though the traffic was moving at a snails pace my heart was racing, I had to be somewhere.
Today for all intents and purposes is my wedding day. If only I want it to be.
Jay-Jay had handed me the details the night before, I knew it was crazy. How can I be getting married with no friends, bridesmaids whatsoever? It was far from the fairy tale I longed for since childhood. But I was old enough to know that fairytales only existed in books.
My head told me I was crazy, But my heart sang of love. I knew Jay-Jay loved me, that was without question. But I couldn’t help second guessing myself.
As I approached Lagoon beach resort. My heart paced even faster. The whole day had been hell for me. How can I make this decision on my own. I tried Lola, my best friend’s cell phone, but it switched off.
As I drove through traffic, I felt like I was driving through a never ending stretch of road with destination called memory lane.
I met Jay-Jay six years ago, I had been at the airline office in Los Angeles trying desperately not to lose my cool over my lost luggage. The attendant at the office had been anything but helpful. I had to scream at her at the top of my lungs just to get her attention, something I rarely did. I had been waiting at the airport for over an hour and no one had bothered to attend to me. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have been so upset but I had a date with Uche, my boyfriend and nothing was going to make me miss it.
Then out of nowhere I heard this voice behind me “The angels must be having a hard time right now, they get angry and stop delivering blessings to others when one of theirs is upset”. It was the corniest line I had ever had the misfortune of hearing. I turned round my eyes ready to give the owner of the words a good dress down, when I saw him. He had the cutest smile I had ever seen. A smile so bright, even his eyes seemed to be sparkle. He turned out to be the manager of the Airline outlet.
Half an hour later I was done and out of the office, he had been so helpful. Even though I was now a bit ashamed for raising my voice, I was still pleased things had resolved themselves. I’d probably never see him again. As I drove home, all I had on my mind was meeting up with Uche later that night for dinner. Uche and I had been dating for 4 years, in fact, today was our anniversary and all the signs indicated a proposal was somewhere around the corner. Or so I hoped. Uche really was everything to me, I loved him so much and prayed with each passing day that he would someday make an honorable woman of me.
I drove happily into the parking lot of my apartment, thinking of the gorgeous black dress I was going to wear tonight. A naughty smile creased my lips as I thought of Uche’s possible reaction when he saw me in the dress. Just as I was getting out of the car my phone rang, It was Dr Smith.
“Hi Didi”, he said in his usual friendly but fatherly voice.
“Hey Dr Smitty” I replied. I had known Dr Smith since I was 5. He had been our family physician for many years.
“When can you come around to see me? Are you doing anything later today?”
“Is there a problem”? I asked. I was getting a bit worried, besides I had a proposal dinner date to get ready for and I hadn’t even started doing up my hair.
“Not really Didi. I just got some of your results back from the lab and I want to discuss them with you. I am going to be away for a few days so I wanted to speak to you before I leave. It shouldn’t take to long.”
I looked down at my watch. Dr Smith’s office was a ten minute drive from my apartment. It would be easier to go now and avoid the rush hour traffic. “Okay, I’ll see you in 10 minutes”, I replied as I jumped back into my car and put the gear in reverse. This was turning out to be a busy day. Nothing was going my way!
Dr Smith’s secretary, Miss Brenda waved me right through into Dr Smith’s office. His office was pristine. You could almost see your face on the marble floors. Even the large oakwood table at the centre of the office looked like it had just been polished 2 seconds ago. Dr Smith gave me a warm hug and a kiss on each cheek as soon as I entered the office. He had a tired smile and I realized he really did need a break. I was glad I came to see him.
“Sit down Didi” he said as he grabbed my file from the small stack of folders on his table. He was sitting down now looking at me over the top of his glasses. He looked worried.
“Didi, I don’t know how else to say this. I have had all tests repeated three times at different labs but the results are all the same.”
I looked at him confused? Was I pregnant? Surely he needn’t go through all that trouble just to reconfirm a pregnancy.
“Didi, You’ve got cancer”. He said looking straight at me.
A wave of emotions washed right through me and I started to feel a warm tingling feeling rising from the pit of my stomach. I tried to repeat the words I had just heard but my mouth suddenly felt dry. I looked round the room, surely he must be talking to someone else in the room.
“Didi, did you hear me”. Dr Smith repeated. He was now sitting on the table right in front of me. His left arm on my right shoulder.
My mother had died of cancer 5 years ago. And I had been coming to do various tests twice a year at Dr Smith’s clinic since then. The tests had become so routine I sometimes forgot to pick up my results.
“Cancer” I finally said. I was only 26. I hadn’t gotten married. I didn’t have children and I hated my job. I hadn’t achieved a single thing and now I was going to die. The tears started to pour down my face. It was like the warm tingling feeling had now reached my eyes, as each tear drop seemed to be hotter than the last. Dr Smith put his arms around me.
“Didi, you are going to fight this. I promise you. I am going to do all I can to make you better. I have already set up an appointment with a radiologist. We caught this early”.
I stayed in his office for another hour. Asking questions and doing more tests. My appointment with the radiologist was the following day. By the time I got into my car, I couldn’t feel my legs. I turned on the car and clutched unto the steering wheel but I couldn’t move. I felt empty. Cancer? How? Why me? What could I have possibly done to deserve this? The tears began to fall again and I could feel my gut wrenching on the inside. I really can’t remember how I drove home. In fact I have no recollection of it what so ever. All I remember is waking up to the sound of my phone ringing. It was Uche. His flight had been cancelled and so was our dinner. I was glad, I was in no mood to eat. I suddenly realized I hadn’t told him. I would wait until he got back into town tomorrow. It would be better to tell him face to face. I started to cry again. I would have given anything to have both my parents with me. But my illness might take me to them sooner than I had planned.
The following morning I woke up with the reality of my situation beginning to set in. I had cancer. Breast Cancer. I was not dreaming. This was the full reality of my situation and there was nothing I could do to change it. I dragged myself out of bed, showered and went to see the radiologist Dr Smith had arranged for me to meet. After about an hour of further tests, I was told to come back the following week to see the oncologist. I was also given a pack containing various information on cancer groups. I stared at all the information blindly. I really can’t believe this is happening to me. I still hadn’t thought about the best way to tell Uche. I wondered if I should tell him before or after he proposed. I still hadn’t made up my mind when I saw him pushing his luggage out of the arrivals terminal at the airport. He looked so handsome and happy to see me, it was all I could do not to break down and start crying in his arms. But I held on, I had to find the best moment to tell him and crying in front of the whole airport was certainly not the best way to break the news. So I put on my best poker face and carried on like nothing was wrong.
He hugged me for what seemed like five minutes before he finally let go. For some reason I felt more self conscious than I would normally feel. I could feel the eyes of everyone at the airport on us and I couldn’t help tugging away from his hug.
“I am so sorry I missed yesterday darling, I missed you so much”. He said still holding on to me with one hand and brushing away the hair from my face with the other.
“That’s okay babe”, I replied, trying my hardest not to burst into tears. “I parked at the back of the airport, it isn’t to far away, lets go”, I said turning away from him. He pulled me back into him and before I could pull away again, I saw him descend on one knee. This was the moment I had been waiting for for over three years. I clutched both hands to the side of my face, willing my emotions not to betray me.
“Ndidi, I have loved you from the very first moment I saw you. You are my angel, my life. The single most important person to me in the world, will you do me the honour of being my wife”. The whole airport stood still but my mind was running round in circles. I could barley see the ring in-between my tears. He took my hand and placed the ring on my finger, I felt the cold metal slide onto my finger as I shook my head up and down to signify my acceptance. The whole airport erupted in cheer. But I could hardly hear them. The beating of my own heart louder than the noise of clamoring strangers sending us congratulatory messages. Uche held onto my hand as we walked into the car park, the brisk in his step told me he was very pleased with the way things turned out. I wondered if he would still walk with such wide strides when I finally told him about my illness.
As soon as we got to Uche’s apartment, he brought out a bottle of champagne. I was grateful for the alcohol although I longed for something much stronger. He made love to me differently that day. He touched every part of me differently, almost like he owned me. His kisses were deeper and his thrusts more intense. He must have mistaken my tears for joy or some sort of reaction to sexual pleasure as he kissed them away ever so gently and whispered in my ear how much he loved me. I whispered the same back as I silently prayed I’d be alive long enough to wear a wedding dress.
I woke Uche up in the middle of the night, I decided it wasn’t fair keeping the news from him any longer. The words felt strange as they fell out of my mouth ‘I have cancer” I said trying to avoid his eyes.
I realized he needed a better explanation than the one I had just given. “I went to see Dr Smith yesterday and he told me I have cancer. Breast cancer. I went to see a radiologist today and they have done some more tests. I have another appointment with an oncologist next week to discuss the best course of treatment”.
Uche was silent for what seemed like an eternity. ‘Why didn’t you tell me all this time?’ he finally said. ‘How could you have carried this burden alone’. He was holding me now. ‘Are you in any pain? I didn’t even know you did any tests’. He sounded almost as confused as I felt.
I couldn’t help but smile. He was right. I should have told him sooner. ‘I am sorry’, I replied looking at him now. I guess I was in shock. I put my head on his chest as he wrapped his arms around me tightly. I suddenly felt relived, maybe everything will be all right after all. Or so I thought…….
Photo credit: http://farm3.static.flickr.com
Watch out for the concluding part of “In the Hands of Love” tomorrow.
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