After crying profusely for about 15 minutes, I went into the washroom and freshened up. I stepped out into the sitting room with my heart feeling a little bit lighter. I had to go and see the Doctor, so I explained to Ope Babalola and his wife and I left.
On getting to the Hospital, the nurses there were solemn and misty eyed. The front desk person quickly ushered me into the Doctor's office and left. One look at the Doctor and my eyes were filled with tears. He had his handkerchief to his eyes. In a very deliberate attempt not to break down totally, he stood up to welcome me and pasting a very plastic smile on his face. He showed me to the seat and sat down. "I am so sorry Val" was how he started. I just wanted to know exactly what went wrong, so I asked him. He explained to me in a very patient and pitiable manner how the infection from the decomposing portion of the intestine had caused blood poisoning [Sepsis]. He went on to inform me that he would be very glad to assist me in any way I feel I need assistance. He had tears in his eyes.
Princess was his most interesting patient in his so many years of practice he told me. The way she managed crisis pain and the psychological stability she had over her situation. He spoke to me like a father and told me that the nurses were heartbroken when they heard the news. While Princess was in the hospital, despite the pain of sickle cell crisis, she still had the strength to play with the nurses and the ward attendants.
Everyone who came in contact with Princess had a smile while leaving. It was a very difficult thing for them at the hospital, but professional ethics had to hold sway over emotions. I thanked him for his efforts and that of his staff and took my leave.
I was still a little bit dazed as I drove off from the hospital back to Ope Babalola's place. On getting there, I met Sam Winful, his wife Aunty Claudia and Samson Taylor. We had to decide on how to break the news to my mother who was expecting me to come back with good news. Finally, after deliberations and suggestions, it was agreed that I call Princess's Elder brother in the UK to inform him first. It was a herculean task, but I had to do it.
Immediately he picked the call, the first thing he said was, "Hi Val, how is she?" At that point I knew I was going to be fast about this or I wouldn't be able to do it. So I went ahead to tell him that unfortunately that morning against all my hopes and prayers, she gave up the ghost. "Jesus Christ!" he screamed and I could hear his wife ask from the background what the matter was. I did my best to keep my composure while what seemed like an eternity of silence took over. When the silence was broken, the next statement he made transfixed me, "Why did she get pregnant again for God's sake?" The question came as a surprise and a shocker. I didn't know if he wanted an answer to the question or it was just a comment. He said he'll get back to me and hung up. Next I called my elder brother and sister. I told them what had happened and that our mother had not yet been told. They consoled me and told me to hold onto God and that things will work out just fine. After the calls, we decided that I will go home with Ope Babalola and Samson Taylor to talk to my mother. So off we went.
On getting to my house, I was a little bit panicky, but I pulled myself together and went in. I tried to put a smile on my face, but maybe it is only my mother and my boys in the house that can actually say if it was a smile or a grin. But I thought it was a smile. I called my mother out to the sitting room where my emissaries were waiting. They exchanged pleasantries and Samson Taylor went straight into the matter with the wisdom of an elder. Starting with how Princess and myself have been good friends to their families, how it was a great thing to know that she came all the way from the Eastern part of Nigeria all the way to Accra to come and take care of Princess and the new baby her age not withstanding. At that time she was already in her 70's. He thanked God for her heart and health. Finally he dropped the bombshell with very great care. "Mama, I want to tell you that God in His infinite wisdom has decided that our sister Princess should be given a time of rest from all her pains" He went ahead to roll out a few more wise words and by this time my mother was in tears. She was sobbing like a baby. I couldn't stand it so I had to leave them in the sitting room and I went into my room.
To be continued...
It is like having your fingernails removed...