When I was sixteen, I had a near-death experience. I had been battling chronic typhoid and Malaria for days but refused to tell mom and dad because I didn’t want to undergo the torture of drugs and injections. However, I told my elder sis, and pled she kept mum. She obliged. But the day she saw me bent over, unable to walk straight or eat any meal, she stopped being the ally. Sis ran to dad and told him about our little secret. I found myself in the “chemist” of a whack nurse, stabbed with an injection that left my ass black for months.
That was a Saturday. Dad couldn’t take me to the hospital because of financial constraints, and the only certified Pharmacy that catered for our family’s health had closed for the day. Thus was my precious butt subjugated to the wickedness of that nurse. *A minute of silence for all incompetent medical personnel* By Sunday, my body began telling me in refined Spanish, that this world is not my own. Before I could decipher the words, I slumped. I was rushed to the Emergency ward of a government hospital.
I don’t like hospitals for anything. When I think hospitals, I think blood gushing from the most unfathomable places in a human body. I think crushed bones, dislocated joints, twisted spines, rotting skins, and third- degree burns. I think drugs, so stinking the universe pukes, ghosts hoping from one bed to another, humans trapped between death and life, and sadness in many eyes beholding their loved ones in pains. The thought of witnessing such horror made me beg the doctor on duty to discharge me after the first drip. Night was approaching, and I couldn’t imagine myself in a crazy ward at that time. I would probably slump again. This time, eternally. The doctor told my parents they could take me home. But one week after being discharged, on a Sunday, I saw death.
Everyone had gone to church that Sunday. I’d promised them I would be fine, alone, at home. They believed me. But few minutes past 9:00am, a part of me started rising from my body. Warmth left me. I felt cold, stuck to the cushion I was resting. But somehow, my mind interpreted what was happening: I was dying. I was frigging dying! In that split second, my whole life flashed before me. I saw my humble background, the beginning that was meant to usher in an amazing end. I remembered every word spoken over me, words pointing towards a great future. I saw dreams unachieved, books unwritten, songs unsung, philanthropic activities undone. I couldn’t accept all of that was going to waste.
Against the stiffness of my body, I began struggling, to catch one breath and scream the only name I knew could save me. It was hard. My spirit was determined to leave my body that day. By the time I saw me rising up to my waist region, something got loosed on my tongue. With the breath I thought was my last, I screamed the name of Jesus. My spirit fell back into my body with such a bang that left me with a migraine. Weeks after that experience I was still sick, but facing death that day, I promised myself I would never belittle my days on earth.
I’m always amazed when people live life like there’s no death. Now don’t try to put this thought in some pessimist’s box. I ain’t asking the world to live life, afraid of death. In fact, I’m challenging that mentality, as well as the lifestyle that totally ignores the reality that each day gets us closer to our graves. As they say, we won’t leave this world alive (except we’re raptured of course). In essence, we’ll all die. Someday.
Someday, was three weeks ago for Ella (25), my cousin’s fiancée; Esther (28), my seatmate during the 2009 Post Universities Matriculation Examination (PUME) in the University of Benin and later, course-mate in the Department of Mass Communication; and, my friend’s mom. It could have been same for the 16-year-old me. Ella was looking forward to a blissful union with my cousin, Esther was probably thinking a million ways of being an exceptional mom to her barely one-year-old son, and my friend’s mom was gearing up for her daughter’s wedding in December. But someday met them that day they breathed their last. Someday, will meet us too. Someday.
Each time someone dies, especially a young person, I’m reminded of the brevity of life, and the urgency of purpose. Perhaps you want to be here forever, but I ain’t got such plans. Every time I don’t want to die, it’s not because I’m yet to marry and shag like my parents did, and populate an already grossly populated earth. Purpose is the reason I hold to life. And the day I’m done fulfilling my call, I wouldn’t be snooping around this place, holding onto some grey hair I can’t auction in the money market. No, I won’t kill myself. I’ll just breathe my last and go home.
But the truth is, I really don’t know when I’m going home. I’m yet to purchase the binoculars that sees one’s end from here. This is the reason I’m making every day count, fulfilling purpose one step at a time. I urge you to do same, to know why you’re truly here. Don’t get carried away by the frivolities of life, or be intimidated by the pangs of death. You are here for a cause greater than you. Discover it. Live it. Till someday…
“For me, living means opportunities for Christ, and dying- well, that’s better yet! But if living will give me more opportunities to win people to Christ, then I really don’t know which is better, to live or die! Sometimes I want to live, and at other times I don’t, for I long to go and be with Christ, how much happier for me than being here! But the fact is I can be of more help to you by staying! Yes, I am still needed down here, and so I feel certain I will be staying on earth a little longer, to help you grow and be happy in your faith”
-Paul, to the Philippians.