At age 22 I had my life planned out. My personal, I must highlight, not my professional one. Even though I was close to completing my undergrad degree had no idea what my career path would be but I knew I would be married and pregnant by 28. I had the name for the child picked, Itumeleng Rafael, regardless of its gender. I had nicknames picked and it was already decided that Itumeleng Rafael would have no siblings.
I conveniently had a man who shared my dreams and added his beautiful visions to them. He had a sense of humour and made me feel comfortable enough to be me. As we sat visioning our future I knew he would be the perfect father. Absolutely nothing could go wrong. I thought.
Years ticked away and the name of our future child still felt perfect. As we grew as a couple we felt we were ready for Tumi I but was always adamant on waiting until 27, for when we would be more financially secure.
Then as I reached 26 the cracks in my vision began to show. It was our first year working. We had made the huge leap into independence, moved to a new town and we were crawling our way to stability. My love’s head began to shake involuntarily. We blamed it on stress, reasoned that the move must have had a toll on him. I willed him to calm down and not to stress. The head refused to listen. Pills were taken to control the shaking but the relief was temporary and always short lived.
One day he fainted whilst in the boy’s room. He woke up a bit rattled with no idea how close his head had been to the glass door that now lay on the floor shattered by his elbow.
Several tests and doctors later, the diagnosis was devastating. He was given five years to live. “There is absolutely nothing we can do” the doctor said in what I know should have been an empathetic tone.
I tried to deny it. I pretended that I never heard the diagnosis. I went on living, pretending that nothing had changed. But blood oozing out of his ear one day reminded me of the gross reality that I could no longer pretend to ignore.
I am the worst comforter, I cry more than he does. I know that he might be better off without me. I always want to talk about it and I know he sometimes does not want to think about his mortality. Every second of my life is spent thinking of the dire reality. Plus I have no one to talk to about this as he does not feel he is ready. I told my parents whose Christian rhetoric did not offer me any comfort or consolation.
There are many questions whizzing through my head. How do I learn to cope with the physical and psychological changes? How do I become a better comforter? Do I continue with the wedding plans and the making of Tumi? The future is in tatters and I do not know what to do.
I have never even been to a funeral before. This is only my first time to deal with mortality and I feel ill equipped.