I had devised a plan to put an end to all my worries, and now it was only a matter of time before my peace would come. One would never believe the time I invested in the development of this plan, but it was my grand masterpiece—the closure to the colorful life I had lived. It was of paramount importance that I did it right; after all, it was the only thing I still had control of. In recent days, I had called the few people who were still dear to me to have just one last conversation, and without saying “good-bye,” I said all that was needed to be said and drew out of them all I needed to hear. I was able to reach everyone except Nalah. Perhaps Nalah was the only thing that had remained constant in my life... Nalah was true to form. In more ways than one I saw myself in her – she was driven, pragmatic, insightful, resourceful and witty, yet, she was humble and made an effort to connect with others who were less fortunate than herself. She was very funny, but not many people knew it as she much preferred to listen than to speak. Although by now I would have said all I needed to say to Nalah and have heard it all from her, I felt somewhat obligated to say good-bye in my own way. In essence, she was the only reason I was stalling my plan.
Last time I spoke to her, just over 2 month ago, she shared she had resigned her job and would have to return to Jamaica if she were not able to find a job within 3 months.
On that call she shared the painful story that led to her resignation. If I were Nalah, I would have submitted my resignation with immediate effect after that meeting with the wretched Dr. Major. But Nalah had exercised better judgment as she had submitted her resignation letter giving 30 days’ notice well in excess of the 14 days required. It was clear she was hurting and I never had a chance to comfort her in her time of distress as the call ended abruptly, which I presumed was due to insufficient minutes on her phone. Because of this, I felt somewhat obligated to talk to her one last time to say good-bye in my own way. Not only did I want to part company with Nalah on a more pleasant note, I wanted assurance even if only in my heart that she was happy and would have a “good life” in America. But with each passing day I grew impatient as my many attempts to contact her failed. Today I will wait no longer.
I was up at the crack of dawn, filled with conviction it was time to execute my plan. I was looking royally beautiful, all decked out in my beige abstract-print silk crêpe de Chine dress. This dress had a US$1,000 price tag, but it was worth every penny—Prada never disappoints. My heart lamented as I started at myself in the mirror. I who had everything was now left for dead among strangers in an institution. The tears welled in my heart flooded my eyes ruining the makeup that I had so painstakingly applied.
As I sat in my rocking chair, I reached out my arms and opened the window, hoping the cold fresh air would dispel these feelings of despair, and make my heart dance in celebration of the happier times in my life. My most favorite time of the day is just before dawn, and I had spent countless days watching the cloud of darkness drift away in a sea of nothingness, making way for the sun to light up the world. I had no doubt when it was time to leave the world that that was the last live experience I should have. With my bottle of pills and glass of water waiting patiently on the night table beside me, my earphone mellowing the vibes with Bob Marley tunes rocking in my head, I sat in the darkness and waited. Waited for the splendor of the sun one last time. It was a peaceful delight.
As the shade of blackness transitioned into shades of gray, I knew my time was getting closer. And with each shade of gray, the profound peace that I was experiencing began welling up inside. I found myself praying—prayers that were thoughts, which became tiny whispers, and then powerful words. It was odd, as I have never prayed before . . . a devout atheist was who I am. Still, I remained resolute to implement my plan. I continued praying as I reached for my pills, poured them into my hands and loaded them into my mouth. As I reached for the bottle of water, a blue light caught my eyes. As I headed toward it I realized my phone was ringing on the floor. I was tempted to ignore it, but decided against it as it was Nalah – a chance to finally say goodbye. I unloaded the pills from my mouth as I answered the phone.
“Hello, Nalah, it is so good hearing from you,” I said.
“Mrs. Mac, it is not Nalah. It is Nalah’s mom,” Lanna said sobbing on the line.
Before I was able to respond, Lanna continued sobbing and with a muffled voice, said, “Nalah was in a terrible car accident and has been in a coma for the past 2 weeks.” The pills rolled out of my hand, scattering in multiple directions as they hit the floor. My heart froze, my body grew numb, and my thoughts confused—I tried to ask “how” but no words came from my mouth. As Lanna kept sobbing, her bitter anguish deepened my paralysis. She kept crying. Still I said nothing and was not able to speak until she asked, “Are you still there, Mrs. Mac?”
“Lanna, I am here, am right here with you. I am here with you,” I said. My words were long and spaced as I tried to collect my thoughts to figure out what to say next. Lanna was in a crisis, and I was in shock, but it was crucially important that I find the right words to say. Fortunately, I was spared, as Lanna continued talking before I could say another word.
“Mrs. Mac, I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do. The doctors have given up hope on Nalah. According to them, even if she were to come out of the coma, she would be in a vegetative state.”
I found myself saying, “No, no—don’t say that; don’t say that. This cannot be happening.” For a good two minutes neither of us said another word—we just cried and cried and cried.
Finally, I broke the silence by saying, “This makes no sense. This makes absolutely no sense. How is it possible that this should be the fate of Nalah?—She lost both of her parents to a car accident. This cannot be her fate. Nalah is a fighter. We will not give up on her.”
“Thank you for saying that, Mrs. Mac. It means so much to me to hear you say that—that is exactly what I needed to hear—thank you,” replied Lanna. A beep on the line alerted Lanna that the call would end soon. This prompted her to say, “I am running out of minutes, but I will get a card and call you later today.”
“Be strong, God is in control,” I said. I wanted to say let’s talk soon but the call ended.
“God is in control.” Where did that come from I questioned myself. What do I mean God is in control? That is not me talking—if I keep this up soon, I will not be able to recognize myself. Now, my well thought out plan, my masterpiece, had been shattered. With just one phone call—a blue light that glowed in the darkness—everything had changed.
I was beside myself—feeling useless and hopeless, I closed my windows shut, blocking out the ray of sunlight that was shining through. I lugged myself around the room searching for the pills that had landed on the floor, then with the little energy I had left, I scrambled into the bed, pulling the sheets over my head and wallowed in my grief. Living in the confines of these walls had driven me to the point where I no longer enjoyed life; I was repulsed by living. The last few weeks had overwhelming, and I had reached a place where I had lost the will to live. Never did I think for a moment that I would be plunged into a state of deeper sadness. This phone call had driven me to an unimaginable place of emptiness but I no longer wanted to die. I wanted now more than ever to live.