I had slept in the hospital the previous day February 27, 2004 with mum in the VIP ward of the National Hospital. Her condition was pretty bad and at this point she could no longer sleep. She had refused eating (I never knew the time was near) and just kept looking at me in a way that gave me crisps.
I was tired so I kept drifting in and out of sleep but each time I wake up, her eyes were on me as if she was sorry about something. So at about 4 a.m. when I woke and she still steering at me I had to say in a very harsh tone "Mumsi stop looking at me like that because you are not going anywhere". I guess I was also afriad but just did not want to accept it.
She looked away immediately but she kept murttering the Lord's prayer. And I shouted "Mumsi you will not die o!" With tears in her eyes she said, "yes I will not die". She was only trying to console me.
A week before she had gone into coma at a private hospital and I had to be transfered to the National Hospital where she was revived. In fact my friend who drove us there had heard the doctors said in Hausa that she was already dead but on giving her insulin injection at the emergency ward, she came back to live. (My friend told me this later).
So on February 28, 2004 (saturday morning), I had left for home to refreshen up and take a nap before returning to the hospital at home. But just when I was about sleeping I got a call that I had an assignment at the Women Development Centre. I had grugely gone there and it was there my brother called to tell me my mum was in pains and was asking for me.
I abandon all and took the next available cab to National Hospital. I had just stepped in when I saw her vomiting blood and the doctors drove I and my brother out of the room.
I wailed and prayed that something could be done but it was too late. The doctor who had warned me while she was in the private hospital to prepare for the worse (she had cancer that started from her leg and spread later to her heart. This was responsible for her immune system collapsing two days before she died. She had refused to eat and was no longer passing out waste), said "Juliana, you did you best for your mum but she is gone".
I shouted nooooooooooooooooooooo! Even when she was being wheeled to the mortuary I had begged them to stop because she could have gone into coma just like a week before.
Until she was lowered into mother earth on March 12, 2004, it was difficult to accept her death.
Mum was one in a million. She never went to school but she spoke English more than a graduate. My friends never used to believe me when I said she never went to school. The only thing she knew how to spell and write was her name. She was a business woman per exellence. She sold anything in season and had friends among the high and mighty.
I never forgot the fact that we were treated that millionaire kids by mum because every festive season we had the best of cloths and variety of menu.
It was not always smooth though growing up. This is because mum was always seek and during those times we will be taken away to leave with relatives who will treat us as slaves. But the moment she recovers she will look for us and we will go back to enjoying special treats from her.
I grew up more with dad (they were divorced) and so I had not seen mum for 10 years since dad came to take me away from her. We reunited in 1991 and we had fun more when I started working in THISDAY and she use to come for either Easter of Christmas holidays in Lagos and later in Abuja when I moved here.
Its been 5 years but I just can't believe my mum is gone. This morning I was usually sad but never could place my finger on it only for my brother to send a text reminding me that today was her anniversary.
But I am consoled that she is in God's bossom and we will meet to part no more.
I'm off to attend Brig. Gen Giwa Amu's wake keep. Another great friend gone.
Death where is thy sting?