By Sunmola Olowookere
All humans, no matter how sweet or sour their existence may be, will at a point accept the indisputable fact that death is an inevitable end to all living creatures. It is an effective system of recycling and cleansing in which it takes out the old and tired and replaces them with the new, refreshed and energetic.
Death in itself is scary as only few men, if any can confidently aver what awaits them after their spirit and soul step out of the mortal body.
Most of us are afraid of the uncertainty that awaits us when we die.
In this vein, just imagine how a woman who was diagnosed with a terminal disease would have felt to have been handed thatslip of paper that contains herdeath sentence. If it had been you, how would you feel if you were diagnosed with a terminal disease?
Can one who is not affected be able to really empathize with this woman who is about to have the rest of her life cut short?
Debola had just come back from the hospital and the enormity of the result of her test was so overwhelming to her that it sounded as if it was an unreal thoughts of an overactive imagination.
In the tumult of her emotions, she picked up her pen and wrote in her diary a lengthy letter to express how she felt on hearing the bad news.
“Since the day of my diagnosis. I have now come to realize that people react to shock in different ways. While some will break down and howl like a baby, others will be shocked and speechless. It’s a strange feeling I had this day. 1 was in that state of shock one feels when a loved one dies. Though I never really stopped to examine that fact before. Now I realize how much I love myself. I began to realize how splendid my personality is. What a waste it would be to be cut short in my prime.
“At 9.30 that morning, Leke and I were informed by the medical specialist we met at the hospital who conducted the tests on me that 1 have a terminal disease known as Motor Neurone Disease. According to him, my speech and ability to swallow will deteriorate as the disease graduates. I have less than two years to live.
“I’m not feeling sorry for myself particularly. I’m not afraid of death-not the state of death. But I’m just a little fearful of dying. My worst fears are those for Anthony and the children. Sade is six. Rebecca almost four. I don’t want to leave them. I want to see what they do, who they will marry and their children.
“The specialist has arranged for me to go to a London hospital to have the diagnosis confirmed. This is primarily for our peace of mind, not because of doubts on his part.”I’m a Christian, but I am not sure how I feel about healing. 1 always thought it worked for other people but not for me. I have been invited to a healing service, perhaps I should go.
“The silly thing is that, despite my death sentence, I feel no difference, physically, today than yesterday. I must obviously live one day at a time”.
The death sentence made her look at the future as a bleak landscape. All her plans for the future crumbled around her. And she wondered. “How could God possibly salvage me and my family from such devastation? “Thepast few months had certainly been very bleak.
Christmas had come to an abrupt halt when one boxing day, her father died suddenly as she went to check on him one early morning. That in itself was devastating. Although he had been sick for some time yet at 74, he was an extremely active man, preaching every Sunday and making numerous pastoral visits during the week.
As an only child, Debola had been very close to both her parents and was still grieving over her mother’s premature death ten years previously. She died just after Leke and Debola became engaged and she desperately missed her mother’s love and friendship.
With both parents snatched by death, she felt bereft. She had tried to be brave and immersed herself in business but as the bleak January faded into even bleaker February days, she felt darker and darker inside and her emotions became unsteady by the day.
There were days when she could not stop crying as she hated herself for being so weak.
At the same time, she began to slur, her speech very embarrassingly and had difficulty in swallowing.
“It’s shock.” Everyone tried to assure her, but it worsened until in March when she had to see the doctor. He referred her to a neurologist who after various scans, delivered the grim diagnosis in May.
Motor Neurone disease (MND) is a disease of the nervous system which renders the muscles useless. For some people, it starts in the limbs. But for others, like Debola, it first affected the muscles used for speech and eating and swallowing food. It also affects the emotions and there is often a thin line between uncontrollable crying and unreasonable laughter. She would always be eternally grateful for the supports of friends and her in-laws who surrounded the family with care, love and prayers.
There were moral, financial and physical support and she came to realize that it is when you have a problem that you know the advantages of good friends.
Their pastor was also steadfast in praying with the family and supporting them in every way possible. He was unhurried and full of calm and patient understanding.
He always brought with him the aroma of God’s peace and a great deal of encouragement. He was the first to pray with the family for healing. There were no bells or flashing lights, but with quiet confidence, they believed.