It’s a year today, 25th June 2020, my dearest mum passed. I recall vividly on this day in 2019 how the events unfolded. I remember waking up to a severe chest pain, like I’ve never felt before, it was so excruciating and painful, that I literally woke up screaming, “my chest, my chest,’ that my partner became frightened. He got dressed quickly and insisted I rang the health centre to see a doctor immediately. I rang up the surgery and the doctor whom I spoke to, asked that I came in immediately for tests to be conducted.

No sooner had I got to the health centre; than I was referred urgently for a chest x-ray, and an Electrocardiogram (ECG) scan. Little did I know that these were all signs, that at the same exact moment as I was in pain, and wondering why I woke up with such excruciating pain that morning, my mum was also in severe pain in hospital also waiting for a brain scan.

I’ve been searching for meaning ever since my mum passed. The strange signs and the strange happenings that still baffles my empirical understanding, like when I saw the autopsy report and the time of death written as 13:55 PM, which was exactly the same period as I was received the results of my test, while sitting in the doctors office, which was thankfully no cause for concern. My mum and myself had a tight-knit relationship, the love we had for each other was mutual despite worlds apart, it felt like I was only a few feet away and could feel her last breath. I never for once thought or believed that there were supernatural powers that connected two souls together, living over 6000 miles apart, but with a common purpose. These powers transcended beyond any human comprehension, I can ever think of.

Mum’s primary cause of death was written down as hypertension, which came as a surprise because mum never discussed her medical challenges with us, her children. The last time mum visited, which was close to her birthday, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, and she said rather casually, she wanted a blood pressure (BP) machine, which I just thought was because we were in a pharmacy to pick up a prescription for an entirely different ailment. I recall asking mum why she needed one, and mum said, again in a very casual form, that her doctor had asked her to get one so she can check her BP frequently. Mum never mentioned anything about even being on any medication, which after her passing, I was told she wasn’t consistent with taking her medications, because she believed she was a strong believer with faith and has been healed by God.

The last message I received from mum at 12:05 AM, that faithful Tuesday morning was, “ Thank you my dear baby girl,” which sometimes keeps me awake at night wondering to myself, if there was more to it than meets the eye inside that single phrase text message she had sent to me approximately 10 hours before her death. I often wonder sometimes what she meant to really say? Was that her way of saying good-bye to me? I ponder on what her last memories would have been? Were they of ‘us’ her children, or of me in particular, whom she fervently prayed for to “get married” because she didn’t think civil partnership was classified as “proper’ marriage. The poignancy of it all, mum’s passing, unanswered questions, the pain and unrest about that sad day, is something I may never come to terms with.

Prior to mum’s death, my younger brother ‘Titus,’ had passed away 11 months before in on 8th May 2018, in Lagos where he was working. He had attended a work party in honour of the newly promoted employees, of which he was one of them. From the information we gathered, and his fiancée’s recount of that day, she and my brother got home late after the party, and she decided to go to bed earlier as she had to go to work early the next morning. She remembered him coming to bed shortly after, but had no recollection of the exact time. When she got up and left for work that morning, she said goodbye to him. In her words, she said he acknowledged her, but didn’t fully wake up to see her off, but just said bye, to which she replied, “Remember to wake up on time, because you’re starting work at 12.” According to her, she rand his phone at 11: 30 AM to wake him up, but there was no answer. She rang several times again and still there was no answer, and was beginning to worry, so she rang their mutual friend who works in the same office as my brother to go wake him up.

This mutual friend of theirs was the last person to see my brother alive. According to his story, he got in the house quite all right, and found my brother still sleeping. When he woke my brother up, my brother opened his eyes, but couldn’t get any word out of his mouth. All my brother did was clutch to his chest and stomach region, with tears streaming down his eyes. With no way for the friend to know what was wrong, he decided to take him straight to the hospital. My brother never made it there. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

When my brother passed, my mum never recovered from it. Not least because, she travelled to the city where my brother lived for a wedding two weeks prior, and never got to see him because he was away working of shore. My mum took my brothers death so badly. Although she pretended to smile on the outside, she was dying a slowly on the inside. I knew she never was happy about his sudden demise, even though I constantly reminded her that she shouldn’t forget that she’s got her other children to be there for. I suppose I’d never know what she’d have felt losing a child.

Sometimes I do wonder what really killed her? Was it the burden of guilt she secretly harboured concerning my brothers death, or the constant thinking and worrying about it, which caused her stress and anxiety, or the worrying for her other children, that caused her BP to be on a constant high, eventually leading to her demise? I wonder…

I suppose that is the way of life really, living us with it’s never ending questions to ponder on, without ever providing us with a clear picture or a much-desired answer, to the numerous questions we present to it. If only I could get just one more chance again to say, “I LOVE YOU MUMMY.” Take care of my brother while you’re there and continue to rest in God’s presence, until we meet to part no more. As for me, I’ll be here looking after your husband and the other beautiful children you left behind for me. Thank you for all you did, and for the lessons you passed on to us. You’re our ‘Heroine.’

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