My story about becoming young and widowed is shared in this post. On the morning my spouse died, I received a call from the hospital. Grief is an all-encompassing emotion – a flurry of conflicting emotions that overwhelms every part of you.
In the midst of her pain, Chidinma would attempt her infectious angelic smile which has the power to melt stones, that smile almost always has a way that makes my heart go kedike.
On one occasion, she had a full grin which made me ask her to share the inside joke with me. She made a statement which I found funny and didn’t think much of it at that time.
She said “Baby I wonder what it would be like to take a selfie with an angel.”
Without thinking, I responded “maybe they will be transparent, I wonder which angle will have to take the photos, you better make sure I am in the selfie too.” My thought and response was interrupted by a phone call from one of our friends who I also shared this statement with.
I wished I could take away the pain, I wished it could be me enduring the pain she was going through. The pain she was going through felt like forever. After several hours at the assessment bay, she was now being moved to an intensive care unit where she needed special attention.
I don’t remember ever being as afraid as I was that night, I was in great shock.
We had a team of medical professionals escort us to the ITU. On our way, we spoke and joked about what the next hairstyle she was going to do next when she returns home. I felt my mind crushingly harassed by the ferocious arrows of fears that she was dying.
Our conversation was abruptly cut short when we got to the ITU and I was asked to wait outside whilst they prepped her. I was assured that I would see her once they had settled her into the ITU, after 4 hours of waiting I was refused access to see her and asked to go home.
I returned home at about 2am, pacing about the house and eventually laid on the bed, my mind travelled through various scenarios on how this could end, but after a while I fell asleep. I rang the hospital in the morning hoping for some good news only to be informed that she became critical overnight and had to be put in an induced coma.
She was put in an induced coma?
I felt flogged profusely with fear, pelted with doubt, chained to expectations imprisoned by tears and the best of prayers I could offer were very deep sighs and groans to heaven for support.
At this point, I knew that ‘water don pass garri’, because we were people of faith, I asked anyone and everyone in my circle to help raise prayer and praise altars as I didn’t have any strength left in me.
I still had the children to look after and had to muster strength to prepare their meal and play with them when they wanted to play.
I thought I could visit and spend some time beside her. To my disbelief, I wasn’t allowed to visit the hospital and they were also not forthcoming with the regular updates as they promised so I began to bombard them with phone calls.
Each time I rang for updates, I found that I struggled to fully understand what was being said on the other side of the phone by the doctors or consultants, I just knew that my stomach churned with each news.
I still don’t think that doctors speak the type of English I understand, it’s almost as though they’re trained to speak in a manner that those of us who are not in that field cannot easily understand.
To help me, I created a WhatsApp group made up of 5 doctors who are family and friends to help me understand each feedback I got from the hospital in simple English because half of the time I didn’t fully understand them. I would call and feed back to this team who would decipher and coach me on the follow up questions to ask.
The only good news I received each day was that she was still alive. I was hurriedly summoned to the hospital to say my ‘goodbye’ on her third day in the hospital because the machine reading suggested that Chidinma may die at any moment but God kept her.
She began to make incremental progress from then on, especially on day 5 when I was informed that even though we were not out of the woods yet, she had made such progress that they had to reduce the strength of her medicine and turned off one of the machines.
I felt this glimmer of hope was good enough for me.
I hung onto that hope and trusted that the mustard seed of faith of the received message would grow as it strengthened my faith to join some of the groups who were praying for us that evening. We had family, friends and various christian circles interceding and trusting God for healing.
The hospital rang me several times on the morning of day 6 to prepare me for the worst.
I find telephone calls from the hospital have a way of putting the fear of God in you. Following the telephone call I contacted family and friends to update them on the latest news. I found a copy of a message I sent that morning.
It reads “Good morning, I have had multiple calls from the ITU this morning which woke me up, the call was to prepare me for the worst, I trust God even more now because He is the Sovereign King.”
The day my wife died.
For some reason my faith and trust for God were at the highest that morning. I continued worshipping as I had joined in a prayer vigil.
How I Found out about my spouse’s death
Whilst worshiping and preparing breakfast for the children another phone call came in from the hospital to inform me that the worst had happened, that Chidinma Olajide had died, they had waited 15 mins to confirm before calling me.
I felt like a glass hit by a train.
I was in a state of shock and I became acutely aware of how unprepared I was to deal with the conflicting mass of emotions called grief.
I was completely heartbroken. I felt shattered in thousands of pieces. Time appeared to have stopped. Like Job, I thought what I greatly feared has come upon me and what I dreaded the most has happened to me. At the same time were tsunamis of thoughts, questions and emotions. I thought perhaps they’ve made a mistake and they would call me back.
I had another phone call from the hospital about 2 hours from the first phone call. I thought to myself that they were calling to apologise for the mistake they made earlier. I thought they were going to tell me that she miraculously recovered and asked for breakfast.
Unfortunately, the call was to grant me access to see the body of my wife before they move her to their chapel of rest. It felt like a fog had suddenly come over me.
I drove the children again to our Pastors in Bedford who offered to drive me to the hospital.
When I saw my wife’s lifeless body on the hospital bed which confirmed her death, I wept a bitter heart wrenching cry.
I shook her, I tried hitting her, I called her every name I could think of, I begged her to stop playing and just sit up. I tried to wriggle her finger and toes, they were already stiff, I felt her legs which were already cold. I sat observing her chest if I could see any movement.
While I sat by her side, I began to automatically review our relationship and was discovering things I wished had been different, better, or more. At the same time, I began to see the unrealised hopes, dreams and expectations about the future.
These replayed in my mind over and over endlessly, a continuous loop that added to the pain and helplessness I felt.
I desperately wanted to tell them that I am observing some vital signs of life. But nothing, absolutely nothing. My wife laid lifeless on the hospital bed.
I hoped that I would suddenly wake up to turn on my bed to wake my wife, Chidinma and tell her about the dream I had of her dying so that we could pray against it.
It turns out that the 30th of March 2020 appears to be the day that the world I knew was forever gone. This is the day I became a young widowed parent, the day I began a grief journey.
- Makes my heart go kedike: Makes my heart flutter
- Water Don Pass Garri: the water is more than the garri, so you cannot eat it! Is used to refer to a situation gone bad or this is a serious situation.
To Be Continued Next Wednesday…
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