THE NEW NORMAL (Friends Like Kilode)

THE NEW NORMAL (Friends Like Kilode)

Buzzzzz!

It was a WhatsApp message from Theo. It was 6th July 2019 and I’d just found out that I’d have yet another surgery. So I wasn’t in the best of moods.

But it was Theo, so I clicked open the message.

“Hey, you… how are you?”

“I’m good, except my body is trying to betray me,” I typed. “I’ll need to go back for another surgery on Thursday.”

“OMG. For what? What is going on?”

“Another mass in my breast, this one is bigger. I just tire jare.”

“Wow, your boobs are really dramatic!”

“Hahaha!!! I know!” She knew how to crack me up. “Anyway, I’ll get the results by Tuesday and all this will finally be over.”

And then, it was Tuesday.

“Hey Theo…it’s cancer. They are sure now… I don’t…I can’t…I …err…” I was shocked speechless on the phone.

I heard her sigh heavily, and then she said, “I’m sending my driver down to come get you.”

“Okay.”

I got to her apartment and she didn’t talk about the cancer. She handed me a glass of wine and I sat and just watched her cook for me. Light conversation, great laughs and sometimes just comfortable silence. She cooks the best food and gives the best cuddles and kisses. That was why a week before chemo, I went to hers to eat my fill. Last supper kinda thing, and boy, was it worth it!

*

“Hey, Hawk, would you mind coming over to mine on Thursday. I need company during this surgery, and help after.”

“Ahn-ahn, no wahala na. For how long?” she asked.

“Well, in about a week or so, I should be back on my feet. I’ll get the results by Tuesday.”

“No wahala.”

By the time the results came back on Tuesday, she ended up having to stay at my place for a whole month after the mastectomy, and then on and off throughout chemo. She bathed me, cooked my food and sat with me during the nights I was scared of falling asleep because I thought I was going to die during the night, alone and scared. We always talked about building businesses together, so when I complained and cried about watching everyone moving on with their lives while I was here sick and delirious, she understood. I had waist-length dread locs that she sometimes had to hold back for me while I puked. I would often joke about our mates holding the hair of their friends puking in the club and living their best lives, while we were here holding hair for chemo puke.

Two weeks after the first chemo, I could barely lift my head off the bed because of the weight of the hair. She eventually had to take a pair of scissors to the hair to lighten my load. The leftover hair eventually fell off on its own two days later.

Her overused phrase was: “Breathe, breathe, it’ll soon pass… Look at me, breathe…” This was surprisingly helpful when I got the shakes or got delirious and panicky.

Her bluntness was a refreshing dose of reality that I needed in that time to keep me grounded. When I had a chemo scheduled for December 31st 2019 and Hawk had to travel home for the holidays, I was fearful, wondering how I’d cope. Because based on our relationship as friends, she’d dealt with me in a way that my mum or sister couldn’t. Plus she knew all the triggers and palliatives of my post chemo sickness and delusions. When she walked into my room on the morning of my chemo appointment, I didn’t know when I burst out crying as waves of relief crashed through me. Silly girl said she wanted to surprise me; which kain surprise be that, making an old woman cry.

But I would literally kill for that girl.

*

“Hey, Modd, how are you doing?”

“I’m doing better today.”

It was two weeks after my third chemo; projectile vomit was down to a minimal. Yay!

“How are YOU doing?” I asked. I’d been waiting for her call for a few days now, because Theo gave me some amazing information that blew my mind.

Dede had had her eyes set on Kilimanjaro for some time, but had to push the climb forward for a few reasons; the most pertinent reason was that her father got diagnosed with cancer. He battled hard but died on October 1st while I was in the middle of my chemo treatments.

Based on her experience with her father, Dede knew I would be in need of funds for treatment. So she decided that it was time to conquer Kilimanjaro with a new reason that was more personal to her. She was going to conquer the mountain first as a tribute to her father and ultimately to raise funds for me. Theo and Dede set it all up and circulated it to their close friends and inner circle.

“I just got back down. I made it to the top! I conquered Kilimanjaro!” she enthused.

“Woo-hoo!!! Congratulations, you did it!”

“It was hard but I made it. I had you on my mind. So I hope this gives you more strength to fight this. You are one tough cookie!”

That made me tear up as I said, “I’m so happy right now.”

By November 2019, they were able to raise almost a million for me. Needless to say, I cried my eyes out from joy and relief when I heard the news.

*

“Hey guys, my results are out. It’s cancer.”

I typed this in the WhatsApp group I created about two years earlier, of the close friends that we were in the university. Due to life being life, we hardly saw as often as we should, so I named the group ‘When We Go See’. We finally did see during my shop opening two months earlier, and it was so great to see them again, some of them with their children.

“OMG!!!” B said. “We’re here for you.”

“You are going to be fine. It’s going to be a tough fight, but I’m here if you need me,” Nini said.

“So sad to hear this. We are here for you,” Tee said.

As I opened my eyes from surgery, it was to see them all there by my bed. They did groceries for me during chemo, and Nini snuck ice cream past my mum who was watching my nutrition like a hawk. I felt like shit and just wanted ice cream.

Mutual friends who got Dede’s and Theo’s message came by the house to keep me company. My parents’ friends also came by and I was grateful for that because they helped keep my mum occupied, because the woman can worry for Africa if left by herself. They also sat with me in my room and just gisted. Even though I could not join in, I would still laugh intermittently at their stories.

Then there were the children of my mother’s friends calling me to show support and try to cheer me up.

I write this episode because this marked a huge change for me due to the fact that I have always been a lone ranger for such a long time. I’ve always been the “I can do great all by myself” kind of person. Most acquaintances and friends were used to me disappearing for long periods without a peep from me. It was about four years ago that my girlfriend at the time pushed me to meet new people. That was when I met Theo at an event and Hawk online at Naijalez.

This whole experience has shown me the power of community and friendship. I cannot be an island anymore because, even if I feel I’m okay, there are other people who I can reach out to, to make their own life just a little better. I’m not going to go overboard and be Mother Theresa, but I’m just making a conscious effort to reach out to people I call my friends and actually BE a friend.

Modd AD is more thoughtful now and people-oriented. I like this. It’s a refreshing change.

Written by Modd

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  1. Mandy
    September 08, 08:01 Reply

    I actually teared up while reading this. In your most dire and downcast circumstance, you had love and support. Stories like this give me hope about humanity. It also backs up all the sentiments that followed Chadwick Boseman’s death: for us all to be kinder, and to be more there for the people we love.

  2. Mitch
    September 08, 09:37 Reply

    Friends, surprising though it might sound, are usually the force that pull us through our darkest and stormiest times.

    It’s why, though I have become quite the recluse, I don’t want to let go of my friends, my tribe. These people have gone to the ends of the earth for me and I for them. In a lot of ways, they’re what I have to live for.

  3. bamidele
    September 08, 13:24 Reply

    Wow.
    Foremostly, congratulations form your recovery from cancer.
    Thank you very much for sharing this emotional message. I envy you though, because of the friends and families that supported you emotionally and materially throughout the journey.

  4. T.T
    September 08, 13:39 Reply

    Speedy recovery is all I can say.

  5. Jen
    September 08, 16:45 Reply

    I’ve been following your series. So I understand some of the struggles cancer can put one through. Your friend, Dede, is right ‘you ARE one tough cookie.’ Cancer may have started the fight but I hope you finish it?❤

    I learnt something from this entry; ‘even if I feel I’m okay, there are other people who I can reach out to, to make their own life just a little better.’ I always say I’m not responsible for anyone and no one is responsible for me. So I tend to be on my own a lot. I enjoy my own company way too much, and I feel I’m okay on my own. But now I know that’s selfish because I can also help someone else feel okay, and I might need someone tomorrow.

  6. Malik
    September 09, 08:20 Reply

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  7. Delle
    September 09, 17:03 Reply

    Such a beautiful entry. I mean, what’s the world without friends like this? I’m even happier knowing I have such friends. We may not always communicate (mostly my fault), but I know they have got my back

    You’re alright, Modd?

  8. Brown
    September 11, 15:40 Reply

    I need such friends in my life ???

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