The Neighbor’s Son
I’m inconsolable right now. My friend of many years passed away two days ago. I’ve been crying all weekend and every time I remember him fresh tears threaten to spill. It’s been tough. Five long years of fighting an ailment he wasn’t initially aware about. It happened so fast. See; when people get this disease they usually fight it for say eight to ten years. With ray, it took him three years and completely finished him. His fellow doctors and he completely missed the diagnosis. When they finally knew what was happening it was at a point of no return.
I first met Ray five years ago. He came to my workplace at around two and wanted to see the doctor in charge. The moment I laid my eyes on him, I was totally mesmerized. I forgot what I was doing. My mouth became dry. For the first time I was confused because of coming face to face with a guy who had very good looks. Ray was handsome, without a doubt. As he stood there in front of me, I licked my lips nervously and rubbed my hands together. I was panicking and it showed. He smiled at me and I tried smiling back. It was a total failure. So I attended him as fast as I could, totally embarrassed with myself. How I even attended to him is still a mystery because I could barely speak.
That night as I slept in bed alone I tried remembering the conversation the two of us had, but I couldn’t remember a thing. I was burning and I knew it. Shamefully I turned and went to sleep. I dreamt of myself in those wonderful arms of his. I was in love, in lust, whatever.
Every day I would think about this guy and I must admit I had numerous dreams about him. I remember how when lonely I would toy with his business card with my fingers on the call button of my phone. It was all I could do not to actually call him. I tried so hard, God knows I tried to restrain myself. However with time, these thoughts begun to fade. In tried to hold on tight, but time washes away memories.
Days passed, they turned into weeks and this guy’s image became a distant blur. Gradually I began to forget about him.
Until that phone call came one day. I dint know the caller so he introduced himself. Within microseconds, my heart was beating at an alarmingly fast rate. My hands begun to sweat and tremble wildly. What did he want? I asked him. I thought maybe he wanted an appointment with the doctor to discuss various stuff that doctors shared. But no, that was not the case. He wanted a lunch date. Even at the dangerous rate my heart was beating, it still managed to skip several beats and I knew there and then that I was going to have a heart attack. I swallowed hard and warning bells begun ringing in my head. Something kept telling me no, I should play hard to get. That it wasn’t right for me to give in to the date. What did i have to lose though? It was a Saturday, my non-working day whose afternoons I spent watching movies or reading books. Dan brown, Ludlum, Jackie Collins, Grisham, you know, whoever. As much as I wanted so hard to be polite and say I would be busy, I wasn’t able to. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. So I gave in. I hated myself for it, but at the moment I dint care.
That Saturday we met, had lunch and he dropped me home. Apart from the looks, he had an amazing sense of humor. I laughed the whole evening. I laughed so hard tears rolled down my cheeks. By the time I went home i had decided this guy would never be my boyfriend. Sadly.
I know you dint see that coming but I’m usually very serious with my life. Boring I know. See I was only eighteen then. Ray was gorgeous and had an amazing personality. Probably very many girls hit on him. He already had his career shaped up. I had nothing and knew I wouldn’t stand a chance with him. So that night I made up my mind. I would have him as a friend. I think I shed a few tears that night after making up my mind. For the second time I was crying over the same person but for very different reasons.
When he seriously begun hitting on me and I told him my decision he was devastated. We were in Nyali beach and the starts were shining brightly on the sky. At the moment, I thought he was putting on a show of being devastated. Years later I came to realize that he had been very genuine and indeed heartbroken.
We became great friends and would go out for the occasional pizza. He would still throw the usual affair jibe which I would cleverly evade And shrug away. One day he became frustrated and gave me quite some lecture on why it wasn’t healthy to play with people’s emotions. The next day he apologized. The man could be a gentleman. Our friendship grew so tight it got to a point where we were like brother and sister.
We continued to be tight, till the strange disease hit him.
One day he came to our clinic limping. I hadn’t seen him for a while and so we had a little chitchat to catch up from when we last saw each other. Then he told me about his disease. His knee had been giving him serious problems for almost a month now and he dint know what was up. He saw the doctor who examined him and prescribed him some medication. We promised to have some ice-cream soon and crack a few jokes.
A month later he was back. He couldn’t sleep, he told us.
Acute chronic pains at the knee which pounded like a hammer. He’d grown slightly thin and had an even more visible limp. This time round the doctor did an x-ray on him and found some tiny infection. He prescribed more drugs for him and ray left, asking me to pray for him.
I called him after two weeks and he told me he was having some relief, and I was happy for him.
Two weeks down the line and who do we have knocking on the door if not Ray? He is in shorts and his knee is bandaged. I run to him and hug him. The hug was a reflex movement coz of his frame, boy wasn’t he thin! Same problem only it’s gotten worse, he couldn’t bare the pain. He could hardly walk properly. I tried sooth talking him, telling him things would be fine. He called me to the examination room, from the prying eyes of the other patients. I went and for the first time, in front of my very own eyes he burst into real tears. I’d never seen a grown man cry in front of me one on one and I was lost for words. I patted him gently, myself trying hard not to cry.
He told me he wanted to shows me something and he opened his zipper. I was abit surprised and he hastily told me not to be coz what he wanted to show me was very grave. There between his thigh and hip joint was a very big black boil. He told me he was in terrible pain and dint know what to do. Here was a sick doctor who dint know what was ailing him.
Our doctor finally attended to him and they agreed that the best thing was to send him to a different radiologist who would examine him and give a different opinion. So we went to a different imaging centre and a different x-ray and CT scan was carried out on him.
The results were out.
When he finally came back with the results I saw something that hadn’t been there in him before. For the first time I saw fear in his eyes. There is nothing as ugly as fear of the unknown. It consumes you internally and leaves you wasted.
Our doctor called two of his friends of his who were radiologists to discuss this issue that was beginning to be a puzzle. Coz the guy’s leg had become swollen beyond recognition. After a lengthy discussion they agreed to meet the next day at the provincial hospital and do a thorough examination on him.
That night I cried for Ray. Poor, amazing Ray.
When they finally got around to knowing what was up, all of us were devastated.
Ray had cancer. And his leg had to be amputatated ASAP.
Two weeks later, his leg was cut off to the hip area. When I went to see him, I couldn’t help myself. I cried and cried, cried and cried. The doctors wanted to chase me away but ray insisted I be there, as he consoled me instead of it being vice versa. If he was hurting he dint show and instead gave me a nail cutter and asked me to trim his nails for him.
Unfortunately after two weeks I was given a transfer to watamu. That was almost two years ago.
I never saw Ray again. We talked via the phone a lot of times but I still can’t forgive myself for the fact that I never made an effort to see him again.
You haven’t heard it all though.
After a while, the other leg began the same problem yet again.
He went for check up, and it was noted that ray had cancer of the bone that was malignant. It would pretend not to be there but spread slowly. (I really don’t know the medical term to use here, and I don’t care) in other terms Ray was a walking cancer case. All his bones had cancer that was pretending to be dead but was just that; pretending. It was spreading to other parts at an alarming rate. In the layman’s language, Ray was cancer.
Three weeks ago his other leg was going to be amputated.
That was the arrangement. They already had an appointment for him. I was planning to go and see him before the operation which was to be on September 2nd.
I never made it. I hear he was devastated. He was going to be without both legs. Have you ever imagined yourself, after 25 yrs of your life living normally, suddenly without both legs? Do you know how horrible that is? And yet you haven’t heard enough.
It was only a matter of time before the cancer on his arms got to stage four.
So….yeah, they would have to be amputated too.
I loved Ray dearly. I feel guilty that I never saw him for so long and I doubt I’ll ever forgive myself.
Two days ago, I got a phone call that he was dead.
I’ve never been affected this much by a person’s death.
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