“Hello Damien” I picked my cell which rang as I was exiting the bar.
“Hello dear, I’m just calling to check on you, make sure you’re alright.”
I kicked a stone which lay on the tarmac “I’m fine”
Damien paused for a bit before replying “Okay Nana, there’s something I really have to tell you” My heart skipped a beat “Okay? Shoot.”
“Oh no. it’s not something I can tell you on the phone. How about we see tomorrow evening?”
I’ll be dead by then, I laughed to myself “Alright whatever suits you.”
Jabi lake looked more beautiful than usual that night. I watched as surrounding lights hit the lake and bounced back into the air. Water was indeed beautiful, It was a shame I had barely managed to pass my swimming test at Harvard. I parked my car on the vehicular bridge overseeing the lake and got down. By the time I reached the bridge railing and stared down at the lake, I had attracted a few people who slowed down their cars and watched, wondering what I was up to. I placed one foot on the rail, to begin the climb overboard. “The pain will be over.” I heard in a clear voice. Ring!! Ring!! “Oh for crying out loud” I pulled out the phone and stared at the screen, it was my father. My father never calls me, in fact he had never called directly in the past ten years. “What do you want dad?” I asked my phone, before sliding the call icon to answer. “Hello Nana.” “Hello Dad” I left the railing and walked back to my car. “Do you remember when you were a little girl and……..” Dad continued talking me down memory lane for the next thirty minutes, which got me wondering, if he had found out I was dying. “Stupid Doctor Seun!” I mumbled to myself, away from the receiver, he must have ratted me out. I got back into the car and drove home. “Where’s your spunk?” I heard the voice say when the call ended.
Sunday mornings were always my best. I could sleep in for as long as I wanted, but this morning was different. I woke up at 1am, pondering about my life. I had been okay in primary school, the first at sunday school and the best in reciting the memory verse, but church soon became cliché, my dreams and aspirations surpassing the scriptures. Too may dos and don’ts, how could one survive. The real world was a brutal one, ‘dog eat dog’ many would say, how could being a lover help one pan out. You had to be shrewd. I looked from my bed to the dresser, several awards sat on it, I wouldn’t have received them if I hadn’t been a good player. The alarm clock rang 6 o’clock, I stood up from the bed and grabbed my keys, I had suddenly developed a strong craving for unleavened bread and one way or another I had to find it.
Even though it was the early hours of Sunday, the supermarket was packed full. “I’ll have a good number of people in hell with me” I laughed.
“Madam, is that all?” the supermarket attendant asked me, wondering why I was holding two loaves of bread and yet still handing him up to ten crisp one thousand Naira notes. “Your money is just 2500 Ma” “I know. Keep the change” I smiled, handed him the money, collected my receipt and walked away, not interested in hearing his appreciation. As I walked past the sliding doors and into the parking lot, I caught sight of a young child. The child looked familiar, I had seen that child before, but I couldn’t recall where. Suddenly it hit me, I had seen him on my way from the club. I pinched my arm, could I be dreaming? The child was staring at me and smiling, something about him was also calling me towards him, I obeyed and with every step I took, a memory from the past flashed in my mind. Is this what death looks like? I asked myself within. The closer I came to him, the heavier I felt, but still I had a strong inclination to continue, so I did. It was like I could hear his soft gentle voice “You can do it” He opened his arms, ready to embrace me, so I knelt down as I got to him and allowed his hands wrap me. My heart beat accelerated as I realised who he really was. He started crying and I could feel his pain, so much as if it was mine. The pain intensified so much, my heart couldn’t take it and I felt I was going to die instantly. “That’s how much love I have for you child, and that’s but a quarter of the pain I feel, when you’re lost” He cupped my face with his hand and stared deeply into my eyes. “Nothing, not even the worst of sin can separate you from the love I have for you.” “Not….not even death?” my whole body shook with emotion. He caressed my head “Not even death my love, for though your physical body dies, your soul will be with me for eternity, experiencing a kind of love your mortal body can’t even contain”
I bowed my head and wept “I’m sorry Lord, I’m sorry”
He smiled “I already forgave you child, even before you asked.”
As he walked back, I regained consciousness for two minutes, realised I was on a stretcher and a siren was blaring, then passed out again.
“Baby” I awoke to my mother’s soft voice and the touch of her lips on my forehead. She smiled at me, so I smiled back. “Why didn’t you tell me? You usually tell me everything.”
I averted my gaze choosing to stare at the hospital equipments beeping in a homogeneous pattern. “I guess I didn’t want you to have to worry about praying for me and then get heartbroken when I eventually died.” I looked back at her and saw she was still smiling
“Baby when I pray, I ask that God’s will, comes to pass. If it is His will that you survive then I will be very happy, but if it’s not, I know He will give us the fortitude to bear the loss.” Mother paused, leaned closer and held my hands. “But baby all I ask is that you give Jesus a chance, for I can’t bear not to see you at the feet of our master.”
I squeezed her hands and looked into her eyes “Mama… Mama” I choked as phlegm caught in my throat “I’ve seen Jesus” Mothers eyes widened in surprise, then she pulled me into a tight embrace. We sat quietly, for how long we don’t know, the tears rolling down our cheeks. “I’m going to heaven mama” “I know came her soft reply” A knock on the door and Doctor Seun walked in. “How are you feeling Nana, Do you need me to get you anything?” I nodded “A jotter and biro would suffice”
By evening the whole family had arrived, all of their faces bearing mixed expressions, I could see they wanted to be strong for me, but the pain that tore through their hearts couldn’t be concealed by smiles. “I didn’t know you all loved me this much” I tried to joke “I always considered I was the black sheep whom you all didn’t mind getting hit by a bus.” They all laughed for a second, then the tears flowed.
A knock on the door and Damien walked in, he looked so tall and handsome in his plaid shirt and jeans. His eyes were swollen “Have you been crying?” I smiled at him
“For why?” he tried to sound macho, but his will gave in and he cascaded into tears.
“Can you give us both a minute” I pleaded with the family. “Why…. why didn’t you tell me Nana?”
I smiled “In my defence, we weren’t that close.” “Yes, and that had always been your problem, you’re not close to anybody, because, you think you can always make it on your own, but guess what you’re wrong.”
I reached for his hand “I’m sorry Damien”
He pulled his hand away “Sorry doesn’t do it Nana. Sorry’s not going to make you get better, will it?”
Tears gathered in my eyes “Damien I’m not choosing to die, but I’ve made my peace with it. I’ve realised that what’s most important is eternity and not the life here.”
“But don’t you think there’s a purpose for which God placed you here?”
“And are you done fulfilling that purpose?”
I stared at the ceiling “I don’t know Damien, I really don’t know”
All went quiet for a minute, then Damien took my hand “I love you Nana. I really do and it hurts to know that you’re leaving.” He reached into his pocket “Here I wanted to give you this”
My eyes went wide, when I saw the diamond studded ring.
“I planned on getting you drunk enough to say yes, then shipping you off to the nearest chapel to get us married” We both laughed
“I didn’t know Damien, that you felt this way, I always just thought you were looking for a one night stand.”
Damien laughed “You think I’ll give my position up for a one night stand”
“Oh, my God Damien, you’re the reason I’m getting the promotion?”
He rolled his eyes “Baby you’re legit smart, but not that smart.”
I laughed “Damien if you truly love me, then please listen to what I have to tell you.”
“Well, If you want to tell me that Jesus loves me, then I hate to burst your bubble ’cause an old janitor on the way here already beat you to it.” He smiled and I could see the joy in his eyes. “I wonder why the hospital still keeps such an old man in service”
I laughed “Well then, if you’ve seen him too, that means, he’s not the Angel I thought he was, or the ‘mount Zion’ Jesus.” We both laughed.
Nana’s story ends………..
The 8th day of September that year was a glorious day, The family had all gathered by Nana’s bedside, both to wish her a happy birthday and to bid her farewell. She looked very beautiful as she smiled and assured us she was going to a better place. “We’re all going to meet with Jesus someday, so I know for sure that eventually we will all be together” She reached beneath her pillow and pulled out a jotter “Here Tami, make sure you get this published. Let the world know how much Jesus loves us and how much He will give for our sake.” I collected the journal, tears clouding my eyes. “Don’t cry Tami, my time may be up, but yours isn’t, be sure to make good use of yours, telling the world everyday of Jesus’ love.” She pulled me closer, my ears to her chest. I listened for her heart beat, it was racing, then suddenly it slowed until it became nothing but silence. The flat line tone sounded on the monitor. I released myself from her embrace and watched as the whole family bowed their heads, their tears descending freely. Suddenly there was a bright light and I saw the master He was smiling down at all of us, when my eyes caught his, I heard him clearly say “I love you.”
On our way out of the hospital two days later, I stopped by Doctor Seun’s office, to ask for the old Janitor because, Damien had a gift for him. “We don’t have any janitor in this department that fits your description, but if you want, we could interrogate the other staff” After thirty minutes of asking around and no evidence that such a person existed, Damien’s face turned pale “You’ve got to be kidding me. My fiancée and I both saw him” Doctor Seun shrugged “You of all people should believe that anything is possible now.” Nana who had been holding unto Damien’s hand the whole time laughed “I knew He was an angel”
“Did you hear that?” my little cousin asked as the Hymn ‘I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice’ was sung at Nana and Damien’s wedding “What?” I asked “I think I hear Jesus saying ‘I love you’.”
‘There are depths of love that I yet may know, till I cross the narrow sea.
‘There are heights of joy that I yet may reach till I rest in peace with thee
In the original story, Nana actually died, but due to popular demand for comedy, and also the truth that God offers divine healing, I changed the story line, but still, I don’t want us to forget the undeniable truth that ‘death is inevitable’ and everyone is going to die, whether we like it or not.
I was at the Service of songs of a dear friend’s mother yesterday and it got me thinking about death. Death really is just a transition, a door that opens to two different rooms. These two rooms could either be eternal life or eternal damnation. A tremendous number of people walk through these two doors everyday and what’s the assurance they make it to eternal life and not damnation?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life”
This is simply the only way to eternal life.
It’s high time we stop focussing on death and focus more on what’s next after death. #focusonthetransition
For believers, Christ has extended His love to us by saving us and we to extend this same love to our neighbours, by telling them about the available saving grace. Next time you’re at the bus stop look to the person on your left and right and ask yourself “What happens if this person gets hit by a bus, in the next five seconds?” if you’re not sure about that answer, then try to reach out to that person in the way the Holy Spirit leads you.
PS. Please don’t go about imagining people being hit by busses
I love you, Jesus Loves you far more than you can even bear.
photo credit: theodysseyonline.com