This is one of my stories that I have found a bit difficult to write, but sometimes, just sometimes, we have to write to encourage, we write to strengthen, we write to heal and we write for ourselves, reliving our stories and letting it out.
Fear is one intangible menace that lurks in dark corners on one’s path of life. It may be invisible to the eye but felt sharply in the heart.
It can destabilize us, cause emotional distress and worry. It will assume as many disguises as possible and taunt as wickedly as possible.
I am not quite sure when the spirit of fear cloaked my being as a child, but when I reflect on it, I think it might have been consciously triggered when I witnessed the simultaneous loss of my beautiful siblings.
It was an experience in my young mind, which left my mum very distraught and I remember vividly her attempt to jump out of our moving vehicle when we were going for the burial.
I was seated in the back of the car clutching her and as small as I was, around 7 years, I remember pleading with her not to go. She was devastated.
I developed that fear of losing my loved ones, that I would find myself staying awake at nights in my bed and listening until my dad came home, then I would fall asleep.
My parents were pretty close and I not only feared losing my dad, but I worried about the effect of his loss on our family in general and my mother in particular.
I had to stare that fear in the eye just over two years ago.
Following various symptoms and a battery of painful tests, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and the battle for his life commenced.
It was an emotionally stretching journey for the entire family, but what amazed me was that, not for one day, not even once did my dad grumble despite all the pains that he was having.
I would call morning and night to talk to him, fly down to see him and sit with him and he never muttered one word of complaint.
Stoically, he ate all the vegetable concoctions my mother came up with through research, took his drugs and went through all the paces in good spirit – I am doubtful that my mouth would not have spewed all the grumbling under the sun.
Few weeks before he passed on, I started having anxiety attacks and frequent diarrhea without any specific reason. Medically nothing was detected but this continued for a bit. As always, I spoke to both of them everyday, praying with and encouraging them and my dad sounded pretty strong.
On Friday, May 4th evening, 2013, I decided to travel down with the red eye flight to see them for the weekend, luckily I was in Lagos at that time, and I spoke to my dad telling him that I would see him the following morning. We had a good chat.
At 4:00a.m. my phone rang and once I saw the number on the screen my heart froze. I was afraid to pick my phone. All sorts of thoughts raced through my head as I held the ringing phone. It was my mother and I knew.
I knew that something dreadful had happened. I knew that she wouldn’t call at that time for nothing when she knew that I was coming in within the next few hours.
I picked up the phone and my mum’s piercing cries cut into my heart.
The rushing noisy sensation in my head and lightheaded feeling was immense. My bowel movement simply got violent and I started hyperventilating. Fortunately my husband was with me and he held me, he was simply my rock.
How I got on that flight is a hazy memory. My husband helped me to get ready, put me on the flight, made arrangements for my pick up at the airport because I was falling to pieces and almost insensate.
I joined my mum and the picture of my dad stretched out as if he was in deep sleep remains in my eyes.
I called him. I praised him. I sang to him, but he never answered.
The tempest broke. I wailed. I asked him why? Couldn’t he have waited just a little longer? Not a word. Hah! Death you have stung me badly!
In the face of my mum’s instability I had to be strong. I had to be strong for her even as I tore up inside. She had just lost her husband of 40 years plus and I knew that our lives was about to change.
One of my brothers had hurried over to join us as well. We made arrangements and took my dad to the mortuary. Arranged for his handling, started his burial arrangements and coincidentally, my worrying diarrhea stopped suddenly the way that it had started.
It was not an easy journey. Burial arrangements in my place and I daresay in Africa, is a major feat and since he was a traditional title holder, it was more expensive but my dad deserved the befitting burial that he received.
Can I claim that having faced that, that I no longer have fears? That would be telling a blatant lie.
Did the experience make me stronger? A bit. I had no choice but to be strong and luckily as a family we supported each other.
I learnt that things could turn in a blink of an eye and never to take life or my loved ones for granted.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha
In response to NaBloPoMo prompt Friday, November 6
What was your biggest fear as a child? Do you still have it today? If it went away, when did your feelings changes?