By Tashinga Wazara, Zimbabwe:
It's 3 am. I'm lying in my bed and its dead quiet. The only sound I hear is the sound of me breathing; slow, heavy breaths. The pain I feel in inextricable. It is a constant, piercing pain. I feel like there's a hand inside my chest pulling at my heart, trying to rip it out. It is unbearable. I haven't slept for days and I don't dare close my eyes because every time I close my eyes I see her. My every thought leads to her and everything around me reminds me of her. Even as I lie here I can feel her presence in my room, watching me. My grief first came as an unwanted visitor, but now it has become my companion. It walks with me everywhere I go and it is loyal and ever present, never leaving me alone. She was my world and when she left she took my world with her. I am at the lowest point of my life.
I remember that night, almost a week ago now, when her mother called me crying and said, 'I'm so sorry. Sibongile's gone.' I remember shaking my head vehemently and saying, 'No…..no….no!' I hung up the phone, still in shock. It didn't sink in. In my mind it just couldn't be. Not now at least. I started thinking back to the last time I had seen her. It had been that same afternoon and we had gone out for lunch. She had been unusually happy that day and she just kept looking at me, smiling, without saying a word. I had not seen her that happy in a long time. I remember saying to her, 'Why are you looking at me like that babe? You're being weird' and she smiled and reached out to hold my hand and said, 'I love you Tashinga'. It wasn't the first time that she told me that she loved me but this time it felt different. It was heartfelt and deep. It took me by surprise. I kissed her hand and told her that I loved her too. We were silent for a while after that, almost as if we were both trying to process the moment we'd just had.
After lunch I had rushed to go drop her off at her house because I had a 2pm meeting at work. I gave her a brief hug and told her that I would talk to her later and I left. I remember her looking back and waving at me as I drove off. That was the last time I saw her. Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by my phone ringing again. It was my best friend. He had probably just heard the news and was calling to find out how I was holding up. I didn't answer. I couldn't answer. It all felt so surreal. As the phone rang, it started sinking in. Sibongile was dead. I was never going to see her again. My knees suddenly gave way and I fell to the ground. Everything around me started spinning. The love of my life was dead. I started shaking and I burst into tears. I don't know how long I was on the floor for but it felt like a very long time.
You see, the thing is that Sibongile had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and she had been living with the illness for the past three years. I had been with her for two of those three years. I had known about her condition before we started dating and I knew that her passing away was something that I would have to deal with at some point but I always thought I would be ready when it happened. I always thought that she would get sick and I would get to say goodbye to her on her deathbed. Death was something we spoke about often because it was a reality in our relationship, something that stared us in the face every time she fell ill due to complications of the cancer or had to go for chemotherapy. But when it happened it was unexpected. She had actually been doing very well and the doctor had said that the cancer had stopped spreading aggressively. She had been given a 50/50 chance of getting through it and we were very hopeful.
When she died she was in the lounge with her family and she had been complaining that her chest was sore then a few minutes later she convulsed and she was gone. The doctors said she had died from Deep Vein Thrombosis which is a condition where blood clots have formed and block your arteries potentially causing a heart attack which is what happened to her. Cancer patients are six times more likely to suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis and unfortunately that is what ended Sibo's life. So I never got a chance to say goodbye. Instead the last time I saw her all I did was casually say, 'I'll talk to you later' and I gave her a one second hug then sped off to work and thinking about that broke me. If I had known that that was the last time I was ever going to see her I would have cancelled my meeting. I would have spent the rest of my day with her and I would have held her tight in my arms, felt her heart beat against mine and soak in the smell of her hair, her touch. I would have looked her in the eye and given her a passionate final kiss to seal off all other kisses. I would have said, 'Goodbye my love. Thank you for the amazing journey that we've walked together the past two years. Now you are going to a better place. Your suffering will be over; you will finally be with your Maker. Wait for me there, for soon we shall be together, except that this time, it will be forever'. I would have stayed with her until her final breath and been there in her final moments.
But now, as I lie here in my bed, it has been almost a week since she passed away and I miss her terribly. I feel as if a part of me has been taken away. I once told Sibongile, 'Sibo, I know that you have a terminal disease but I have a disease too, and it is my love for you. Being with you is my cure.' But now, my cure is gone. Her disease killed her and now mine is killing my soul. It is 5am now. I must find a way to get out of this bed. I must find a way to move on because she would have wanted that but for the moment the pain is still too great, I'm too heartbroken.
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