It ate me up inside…

Posted: September 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

I let her lie on my lap every evening as always, while we watched the news. Sometimes, it physically hurts but she doesn’t need to know that. Even at seventeen she still treats me like superwoman and still lets me treat her like my little girl. Who will stroke her hair when I’m gone? Who will kiss her goodnight and tell she is loved. She’s the one who started that tradition actually. She came up to me one time, she was about 16 maybe. She smiled and said ‘Mummy, can I ask you something?’ I nodded and she asked me one of the most profound questions I’ve ever been asked. ‘Why don’t we ever say I love you to each other in this family?’ I didn’t even have an answer. I think as parents because we provide for our kids and we care for them and treat them with love we forget the power of those three words. That as much as you know someone loves you, them saying it and you seeing it in their eyes in that moment is just as important. So every night, she would come into my room, pull the mosquito net up, say goodnight mummy, kiss me on the cheek and say those three beautiful words. ‘I love you too my sweet, sweet dreams’ I’d reply and every time it was like a breath of pure fresh air. She’s a little ball of feelings that one; she gets it from me. Who wipe her tears when she can no longer call me to? I think in those moments, I’m reminded daily that she’s not ready for what comes next. None of them are. And that, well that scares me more than death itself.

Sometimes I swear I could feel the cancer coursing through my body. You know how say you find a spider crawling up your leg and the rest of the day you can feel that creeper’s tiny legs all over even though you killed it and threw it outside?  Something like that. I could feel it spreading from my breasts (or at least where my breasts used to be) to my stomach, to my pelvic region, to my legs, to my toes, everywhere. It was like with every beat of my heart, as blood was pumped, it would take the cancer cells with it and those buggers would chose to latch onto whatever they found on the way. I know that’s not the science of it but that’s just how it felt. I wished I could tie off parts of my body to slow it down but the monster has been at work for years. I’ve been living on borrowed time I think. Co-existing with a darkness that will soon consume me. With every treatment, every test, the doctors confirmed what I already knew; there was nothing more they could do. I decided to put a stop to the chemicals and go herbal #organicmanenos hahaha! Figured if I was going to go, might as well go green. Haha! See what I did there. I think only my son (my second born) gets the morbid jokes I’m used to telling now because he makes them too; its how he deals I guess.

I remember the first time the monster reared its ugly head. It was back in the nineties. I know, I’ve been fighting a long time. But this is my last stand. I hadn’t been feeling well for a while but I just thought it was fatigue. One morning, I tried to get out of bed. I had never felt pain like that before. It seems to emanate from deep in my core and explode just under my skin. I couldn’t move, I puked allover myself and screamed out for help. The pain was too much. What was happening to me? I was fine just a minute ago and now it felt like my body was collapsing on itself.

My husband found me on the floor in my bedroom. I had managed to roll off the bed. I was trying to crawl to the door. Though the pain towered over every other feeling at the time, I still tried to wipe the vomit off myself. I didn’t want him to see me like that.

After one of my treatments later, I was in the shower and I passed my hand through my hair and came out with a clump of it. The doctor said it might happen because of the chemo and radiation therapy but eish, its one thing being told it would happen and it actually happening. It was just me and the mushy one at home; my third born. I called out for her and she came and helped me cut my hair off.  I was freaked out but she was so calm. Weird. That night however, she climbed into bed with me, lay next to be and was just silent. She had sensed the severity of it all and she was processing. She tends to have conversations with herself in her mind when something is too heavy and she feels unable to express it verbally. So I asked her to touch one of my breasts. This was before I had to have the double mastectomy and the cancer was only on the one breast. It was had as a rock. I heard a sniffle and a sob a few moments later. She told me I was the strongest human she had ever seen. I don’t think I’m that strong. But they make me strong, stronger than I ever thought I could be.

Fast forward to now, I sat my children’s father down to have ‘the talk’. He promised he would take care of my four angels. He is a provider, he always has been. Strict, no nonsense, very conservative, overachiever. So I knew they would be ok financially. Emotionally? Well, I shudder at the thought. He’s never really had to be connected; not beyond the natural father-child bond. I know he loves them, saying it is the problem and sometimes showing it too beyond paying school fees and buying food and clothes and such. But such is the fate of most families I guess.

The fear of death is nothing compared to the fear from wondering who will be brought into your children’s lives after you are gone. Will they be truly loved? Nope, not like you would have loved them and sometimes far far from it. Will they be truly protected? Nope, because you know no one else would sacrifice everything, even life itself for them. No one. Will they be provided for? Maybe; money is fickle and ultimately conditional. Will they be ok? Eventually; but not completely. You will have left a hole in their little hearts that will never be filled. They will try to fill it out of sheer hope but even that hope will disappoint. No pain will be greater; no tragedy more crippling and no triumph will surpass their ability to survive after losing you. Hearts will be broken often until they realise it’s not a hole that needs to be filled. It’s a hole that has been brought forth into existence through no one’s doing and it must cohabit with them in this lifetime.  They will realise that relief will only come after that struggle and knowing that you will always be a part of them. They were made in your likeness.

I hold on to those thoughts even as my body urges me to let go of this life. I hold my babies close every time I can. Those smiles, that laughter, those tears. Argh! I’ll miss all of it. They love each other, my four rug rats. I can draw peace from that. They’ll look out for each other; stand up for each other.

One is a short fuse; one makes jokes about anything and everything; one carries her feelings on her finger tips and one builds walls but will crush any threat against her or her people with no hesitation. I have told them to be prepared but I don’t think they can fully comprehend what’s about to happen.

I don’t want them to see me towards the end. When the cancer travels to my brain and I can’t even remember their names. When it eats at my bones and I’m permanently stuck to a bed. When all my body functions start to switch off one by one. I want them to remember me as I am now. Still able to hug them, kiss them, and tell them I love them. You can get over/past the guilt of not being able to be near a loved one just before they pass but the memory of a loved one wasting away slowly and painfully; no; that will never go away. So yes, I hope they will not be near me those last few months.

I don’t think I can really conclude this story. Because that would mean I’m writing from beyond the grave. Freaky. Then the touchy feely one might get it and frame it and hang it in her house. I guess it could be quite the conversation starter.

“Oh, that? *pointing at the framed letter* that’s just a story my mother wrote just before she died about how it felt like to be dying of cancer. Will you have beer or wine?”

Shall I just leave it here then? Maybe one of my little angels will write something in the years to come; after I’m gone.


                                                                        …. Lavender ….



  1. Mwash says:

    Sorry for the loss of your mother Awinja. May the warm memories of her, live in you and brighten your days. May they bring more smiles and lese tears


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