AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
The doctor gave Nkem a large envelope. It was a letter for her and there were some documents attached too. Nkem was given an empty room to read the letter. Iyke gave her space and stood outside in case she needed him. He knew she would need him. The letter read:
My beautiful wife,
I didn’t expect this journey to end so suddenly. I didn’t want it to but if you are reading this, it has. I noticed I wasn’t myself anymore. Remember I complained of headaches and migraines. I avoided visiting the hospital because I knew there was an underlying cause. When it got really bad, I went and got the bad news.
I couldn’t tell you. I didn’t want you to be sad or move to America to be with me out of pity. I didn’t want you to cry or grieve over the situation. We both knew it would happen someday, but we didn’t know how soon.
I don’t want to linger for too long. I have signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) when my heart fails. They might want you to counter the order, but please do not. If it is not obeyed and I am brain-dead, unplug me from life support. I know my family might fight you, give them two days and then do it. That is what I want. I want everyone to say their goodbyes and let me go.
I have asked myself what would have happened to you after I died if you didn’t have this career. My mother would have tried to enslave you. I know it is not funny, but it is to me. You were right and you made the right choice. I only worry about Dom.
I want a quiet funeral. I want to be buried in America immediately. My body shouldn’t remain in the morgue for more than a week. My mother can make the arrangements for the burial. It is better if she does, if not, you will be frustrated.
I have a suit in my wardrobe, that is what I will wear. I want to look good for you. I want you to be proud of me. I want you to mourn my loss, miss me and always remember me. I have left you everything I have. I have left all my entitlement from my father to my son, Dominic. My lawyer has my will.
Thank you for coming back into my life. These last three years have been amazing, they are the best years of my life. Thank you for all your sacrifices to make this happen. Don’t cry too much. Miss me but continue to live your life. I will always protect you. You know how much I love you.
Until we meet to part no more,
Nkem was in tears. She cried so much in the room that Iyke didn’t have the heart to hold her. He was crying silently too. This was harder than they anticipated. His brother was gone, it was only his body left. He was unconscious, and it was a matter of time.
Nkem’s friends came to the hospital at that moment. Iyke led them to where she was. Nkem was on the floor at this time. Her wails could be heard from the reception. They picked her up and tried to console her. Funke read the letter and was also in tears. Iyke was now in the room with them.
Funke took charge. “He knew he was dying and left this note for Nkem. Iyke, I think you should take charge. Read the letter and then let the doctors know his wishes and how they can be abided by.”
“No. I don’t want him dead. What can they do to help him? Demian can’t die on me. Please don’t let him die,” Nkem screamed as she was inconsolable.
Funke continued, “Don’t listen to her, she is in pain and all emotional. Talk to the doctors, and show them the letter. Talk to your family so they know his wishes and we will take it from there.”
Iyke left to do what Funke said. He met the doctors and showed them Demian’s letter including the DNR he signed. The hospital made copies of the letter and gave two copies to Iyke. He placed the original letter back in the envelope with the other documents. He kept the envelope because he didn’t trust his mother and Ada. They could destroy it or retain it. It was Nkem’s letter.
Read – Sisterhood episode 91
Iyke called his father aside and showed him the letter. He broke down and tears flowed from his eyes. Iyke asked him to take control of himself because of the women. He tried. He spoke with his mother and his sisters. He told them Demian wanted to go respectfully and that was what he instructed Nkem to do for him. He knew they would be emotional but Nkem would insist on his wishes being granted.
Demian’s mother cried out loud. “Lord, why do this to me? After how many years did you take my son away from me? Why didn’t you take him as an infant? Why not as a child? Why now? How can I bury my child who is supposed to bury me? Tell me, Lord, tell me why you did this?”
Demians two sisters, also in tears, held their mother. They took her in to see Demian. She touched her son and still shed tears. He didn’t look sick. He didn’t look emaciated. He looked just like himself. This couldn’t be true.
When Nkem felt better, she came back to see Demian. Her friends were with her. Demian’s father allowed her to enter unhindered so she could be with her husband. Funke led prayers in the room and all she asked was for the will of God to be done and for Demian to be at peace. After the prayers, Iyke called a cab to take Funke, Esther and Zainab to the hotel. He asked his parents to go too. Nkem gave them the key to the apartment. He asked Ada to take them home and she could also go.
Agnes refused to leave. She stayed back with Nkem and Iyke. Nkem sat by Demian’s bed, held his hand and laid her head on his chest for a while. She had stopped crying at this time and was holding him. Iyke took pictures quietly. He wanted her to see their last moments and appreciate it.
Nkem was talking to Demian. They were surprised. She said, “I should have been suspicious when you sent me $10,000 for this trip after buying my ticket and paying for my accommodation. I didn’t know you didn’t want me to be around when it happened; you wanted me far away. I am here now. I came back. Iyke was able to reach me. I want to be here for your final moments no matter how it hurts; we are in this together. This was what I signed up for. My heart aches. How do I cope with Dominic and my busy schedule? You know how much I love you. You know how much I cared for you. If I had known, I would have supported you. I know you want to rest but how do I move on? How do I cope without you? Nothing matters anymore. What is life all about?” As Nkem spoke, Agnes was in agonising tears. Iyke was in pain but he videoed her soliloquising. Demian couldn’t hear her. He believed he was gone.
Nkem fell asleep beside Demian. Her head rested on his lap. She dreamt and felt him stroking her hair as she slept. He assured her everything will be ok. She woke up in a startle. She had hope. She said Demian stroked her hair and therefore he will wake up. Iyke knew it was not possible because the prognosis was quite bad. They made him comfortable to go.
Ada came in with Dominic to the reception. She called Iyke on the phone. He went out to see her. “He said his father came to him in his dream and told him to take good care of his mother because he is embarking on a journey he won’t return from. I recorded it for his mother to hear for herself. He insisted on seeing his father. What’s going on?”
“The prognosis is not good. I have to be honest with you. He might not make it.”
“It will be hard for Nkem.”
Iyke was surprised, “Since when did you start caring for Nkem? She is taking it hard because they have told her the truth. I was downplaying yesterday.”
“Daddy might not be able to bear this. Mummy is tougher.”
“He will. He knew it would happen. He has a healthy son to succeed him. I am more concerned about Nkem obeying Demian’s wishes. She might not let go.”
“Let her take her time.”
Iyke took Dominic to see his father. Dominic was a bit scared as he called out, “Dad, Dad”. Nkem woke up and saw her son. She called him to her and hugged him. Her eyes were swollen. “What’s wrong with Dad?” Dom asked his mother.
“He is very sick. He suffered a stroke and he is unconscious.”
“He said he was going on a journey. He told me last night.”
Nkem became frantic. “Journey? To where? Demian, where are you going? Don’t leave yet. I need you. Just speak with me once. Please”
Iyke took her out with Dom. He told Ada to take over while he takes Nkem home so she can rest.
Agnes refused to go home with Nkem, she wanted to remain until her parents came. As they were leaving, they met Demian’s parents coming in. Iyke gave them the situation report and told them he was taking Nkem to the hotel to rest so her friends could be with her before she could come back to the hospital. They left.
Iyke dropped Nkem off at the hotel. Apart from her friends, Iyke felt she needed her family members too. Some of his relatives were arriving that day. He wanted a balance between his family and Nkem’s. He called Uloma. He explained to her how severe the situation was and how difficult it was for Nkem at this time. She needed her support. She agreed to take time off work and be there. He asked her to call Chidindu to come too. He called his mother-in-law and also asked her to come down as soon as possible.
He went to Demian’s flat to rest. He couldn’t sleep. He spent about an hour crying. The responsibility fell on him. He wanted to make sure everything goes well. He had been seen as a self-centred and nonchalant son. This was the time to prove people wrong and show that he has grown. He had to ensure there will be no fracas when the inevitable happens. He read the letter again and knew what he would do from then on. He was able to fall asleep.
Nkem went back to the hospital in the evening with Dominic and her friends. Ada took him with her home. She saw the doctor and there were no changes. Iyke arrived shortly after with family members. He took them to see Demian. He arranged for a priest to say the final prayers. Nkem was devastated when the priest said the prayers that she cried out.
Chidindu arrived not long after. He consoled Nkem and had conversations with Iyke and their male relatives. Iyke explained to them what Demian wanted and asked that they persuade their relatives to accept.
Chidindu replied, “There is no need for that. God has taken control. It will happen in a way no one can call the shots. I asked God to help us not go against his will and take charge, he has done that. All I will say is, hold your parents and make them stop coming here. This is not the place for them. We will stay here and support you while the elderly ones rest. That is how it is done.”
The young ones spoke with the elderly ones and asked them to leave. The hospital was not a place for them. After much convincing, they agreed. They went home to Demian’s apartment while other family members went to Agnes and Ada’s apartments. The younger ones stayed in a hotel close to the hospital. Iyke got a room there so Uloma could stay there when she arrived.
They all stayed that evening. When it was very late, they asked everyone to leave except Nkem and Iyke. Nkem stayed in her position. She hadn’t eaten since she got the news. She had stopped crying and believed strongly Demian would wake up. Iyke checked with the doctors and all.
Nkem believed she was in a trance. She woke up and saw herself in the hospital room. Demian was no longer on the bed. She looked around looking for him frantically until she saw him by the door. He turned back and smiled at her. He said to her, “I will be with you always.” And then he walked out of the door. She woke up startled again. She looked at the door there was no one. She looked on the bed and saw Demian there with the tubes still intact. She looked up and saw Iyke. He came close to her and asked, “What is it?”
“I just saw him walk out of the door. He said…” The heart monitor machine went off. Iyke looked at it and saw it had gone flat. The nurses ran to the room. Iyke rushed to Nkem’s side and held her. He held her tight because she asking questions.
One of the nurses told Iyke about the DNR and asked what to do. He looked at Nkem and said, “Let him go, please.”
Nkem was confused but she understood his question. She looked at her husband and her heart was shattered once again. She let out a scream with tears in her eyes. Iyke said to her again, “He is gone. He has said his goodbye. Let him go. This is just his body. Please.”Nkem nodded while she held unto Iyke.
Iyke was glad they were the only ones there. They pronounced the time of death and switched off the machines. They left Iyke and Nkem alone with him. Iyke called Agnes and Ada to let them know. They went to pick up their parents to come to the hospital. Iyke called Chidindu and Funke who exchanged numbers with him earlier. Nkem was inconsolable. She was on Demian’s body talking to him. Chidindu arrived with Uloma. She had just arrived in the state. She couldn’t reach Iyke so she called Chidindu who directed her to where he was not knowing what had happened.
When Nkem’s in-laws arrived. The parents went to see his body. Demian’s mother was devastated. She wailed when she saw him without the tubes and lying lifeless. His father shrugged his shoulders as tears dropped from his eyes. Ada and Agnes cried uncontrollably. Others came in.