We sat across each other with a long board-room table separating us. It was probably where the meetings of the court rooms were being held and since I was distracted I didn’t notice much. I stared at him as our lawyers talked and argued; his face was turned away, glaring at the window facing the doorway as if the time on the clock inches away from his seat meant nothing to him.
“I just want this over and done with, so I can move on with my life” I remarked unsure of the agreements being discussed by the lawyers. I wasn’t going to leave him with much to begin with.
“Ten years of my life with this ‘crazy man’ has to be worth something” I thought to myself, remembering my two beautiful children. Amanda who was ten and Jason who was just seven.
“They’re definitely worth it”, I replied myself and my eyes moved towards the clock and it was just past three o’clock.
“My kids closes in about thirty minutes” I said staring at my lawyers, unable to understand why the finalization of the divorce was taking forever.
“Our kids” Matthew snapped, glaring at me as if I wanted to also take the only thing good about his life with me. After another deadlock, I stood up to leave as our lawyers rescheduled a new meeting.
“Call me” I said to Matthew “we need to set your visiting days to our kids” as I opened the car to go in.
Hopelessly trying to beat the traffic, I speedily drove past a trailer polluting the air with so much smoke from its almost dead engines. I stopped at an old lady’s vendor who sold fruits to get some Banana and Apples for the kids to take while I prepared lunch.
“Madam well-done o”, I greeted and the old lady replied “you’re welcome”
“Please give me banana N200. These apples are big how much is it?” I asked
“It’s just #120” she said, “won’t you give me three for #300?” I asked. “Take it for #320” she replied.
Satisfied with the price I brought out money to pay her, while she packaged the fruits into a bag. A trailer was moving with great speed, so I waited a little but almost immediately, I realized the driver was fighting to control the vehicle. The breaks had probably failed, which was common for most trailers on Nigerian roads. I watched everyone around try to get out of the way. I rushed into the car to also get it out of the way that was when I heard a loud sound and that was all I could remember.
I woke up to the sound of voices I couldn’t place, I tried to open my eyes and it was hurting like hell, so I gave up trying. I was wondering why it was so painful to open my eyes; that was when it came rushing to me. “An accident”, the kids oh my God I muttered to myself. Now I heard a more familiar voice, “Matthew” I said there was no answer, “Matthew” I called out again, this time louder than before.
“Shhhh, don’t try to talk” he said, bending uncomfortably close to me.
“Why is he acting all sweet and nice” I thought to myself.
“What is going on” I asked ignoring what he said and forcing my eyes open regardless of the gnashing pain that tore at it.
Seeing that I wasn’t going to back down he said, “The kids are fine, they’re alright”, as if knowing that they were okay was going to calm me, well it did, a little.
“Just try to get some rest I’m not going anywhere and neither are the kids”, he said as he bent over to give me a kiss on my forehead.
“He must have taken something because he was acting really strange” I thought to myself.
As though reading my thoughts he said “everything will be fine” and he walked out of the room. The doctor came in, did something I couldn’t quite figure out and then also left.
This time he brought the kids “you didn’t take them to school”? I asked surprised to see the kids as they rushed into my open arms.
“We wanted to see you mummy” Jason started “and we won’t do anything else until we did”, his sister nodded in agreement. “They wouldn’t have it any other way”, Matthew added.
He brought something that looked like lunch, as the kids rushed to get theirs, after eating he took them to his sisters and came back to the hospital. He stared at me in a strange way which was becoming very uncomfortable.
“What is it” I asked, he started to stutter, and it was becoming annoying so I gave up. That was when he said “You have three months left”
Repeating after him I asked “Three months left for what exactly?”, “to live” he replied “you’ve have cancer”.
“cancer” I muttered, it all started to make sense now, that was why he’s been so nice, I was a charity case that needed urgent attention.
The kids had closed for the session and were on holidays, so they spent most of their time with me at the hospital alongside Matthew who was supposed to have become my ex husband. I just had some few weeks left so I was not going to spend it in some hospital. I was discharged that day and I went home, we all did any way.
I made a special meal and we ate like a family for the first time in months, we were all happy and as the day came to an end. We told stories to the kids, laughing all through till they fell asleep leaving us both.
Matthew spoke first after a long silence “I love you, I didn’t realize how much until now and I know I always will” I replied always and forever. We both smiled, he immediately got up and carried me to the room.
That was it I just knew this was final for me, it was just like I had predicted.
We are often clouded by too much that is going on around us that we forget to live and make the most of our time. We often forget how to treat people believing that they’ll always be there. The truth is no matter where you are or where you’ll be, all that you leave with people are the memories of how you treated them or how you made them feel. So ask yourself, “what are the memories of me that I leave with people?”, because in the end, that’s what we have.
Blossom Obi writes from Owerri, Imo State. For comments and responses, reach her via [email protected]