A friend of mine had called to share the news of a terminal diagnosis by her doctor. “Hello, Debbie are you still there?” she said to me as I tried to digest the weight of this news, feigning strength while hoping my 2009 acting classes would come to my rescue.
“I’m here, Tee, I’m here,” I said,”And I’ll always be here and you will too because you’re not going anywhere.”
You see before that call, Tee and I hadn’t seen in 8 or 9 months even though we live in the same city. We tried to speak when we could and would often laugh about how we preferred to let the stories in our lives pile up before catching up. The last time we hung out we both agreed that we were going to do better but we never did. I also remember us discussing how our faces were slowly changing and our lives too. We agreed that our relationship was different, that the most important thing was the love between us and that even if we didn’t always see, we understood each other. But did we? Or were we just two lazy friends who failed to put in the effort while blaming adulthood on our poor decisions?
As I put away my phone and reclined my seat in the office to better make room in my mind for all Tee had shared with me. I thought long and hard while finally admitting that life had gotten in the way of relationships and people that I genuinely cared about. One day you think of a friend and before you know it, it’s a week or two before a message or call is put through. Relationships are a commitment and one should never be too busy to keep up with those they love.
Tee’s sickness was our reminder to stop and appreciate the time we were both spending on earth. I remember visiting once and feeling so guilty because perhaps if I had made time in those 8 months, I would have seen her symptoms early enough and gotten her to the hospital quicker. But life had happened to us and we weren’t about to waste any more time on things that did not matter.
It was during her healing process that we both realised how simple life can be if you make it. Life truly is what you make of it. We tried out many restaurants, found new hobbies, and even dared to learn a language together.
On the day that we received news about Tee’s miraculous turnaround. I remember looking at her as she read her novel by Buchi Emecheta. In 6 months of her recovery, I had learned more about Tee than I did in our whole adult life because, this time, I was not waiting for her to tell me how life was treating her, I had actively part of it, ready to face obstacles with her. We spent more time together than we did before and as I looked at her, I had only one question in my mind: What were we so busy doing?
As we enter the festive season during one of our toughest times as a country, I hope that you prioritise what is most important. I hope that you focus on family and catch up with old friends. I hope that your laughter this season outweighs any other thing.
Most importantly, I hope that you learn from me and Tee because you never truly know how much time you have with those you love. My advice? Make time before you’re forced to take time out for that person regardless.
While we all hope and pray for the best in life, you never truly know what big challenge life has for you or your loved ones next. Trust me when I tell you that you never want to ask yourself: “what were we so busy doing?”
Compliments of the season.