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Remembering Zenita

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash
A friend lost to cancer

It was close to midnight on New Year’s eve when my phone rang. Zenita, the name of my good friend flashed across the screen. I excitedly answered and in surprise realized that the voice on the other end was not one I knew.

The caller identified themselves as her sister and stated she was sorry to tell me that my friend had lost her battle with cancer earlier that day.

Just as my phone rang my then six-month-old baby had suddenly cried out very loudly, seemingly for no reason I couth fathom.

I was immediately overcome with sadness … my friend had died. She had lost her battle with cancer.

Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash

I met the woman who would become my friend in college. We were working our way through nursing school. Both of us were adults with families at this time.

I would later find out that she was stricken with cancer and had been going through this process for some time. She had had bilateral mastectomies and breast reconstruction and a few other forms of treatments by the time we met.

If one was not made aware of her illness, she appeared to be the picture of health.

She would start her coursework, become ill, and be forced to hit the pause button. She would then gain some respite, return to school only to have to leave again. Through it all, she remained steadfast.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Zenita was a soft-spoken and beautiful human being. I would often parallel park her car. She was a good driver though parallel parking proved to be her undoing. So each time we had classes together I would park her car.

Our friendship continued through the years. I went on ahead as she took time out for another round with cancer.

Time marched on and we stayed in touch. I graduated nursing school and began working while my friend continued to fight in between bouts of schooling.


Sometime later we met for breakfast and I told her of my plans to move. She put me in contact with her sister’s friend through whom I could make inquiries about employment.

Even though her life was complicated, she still took time out to care about mine and offer her assistance. My friend had been in the fight for her life for years. I never heard her complain about her circumstances.

She fought a good fight.


Photo by Handiwork NYC on Unsplash

Life continued. We spoke regularly and by this time, cancer had given her some reprieve. She had finally graduated from nursing school and was planning to move my way as well.

She flew down for our mutual friend’s wedding and she looked well and healthy.

If you met her and did not know her history, one would never guess at the battle raging beneath.

She remained hopeful.

She looked healthy and beautiful and we had a blast at the wedding reception. We partied and danced the night away. Though for some reason we did not take a picture together. I have never had a picture of her, though I still see her so clearly and hear her voice.

We said our goodbyes and anticipated the promised relocation a few months later.


Photo by Erica Marsland Huynh on Unsplash

Soon it was in November, Thanksgiving Day. I received a call from Zenita, but I was at work. We chatted for a short while, then she told me that her family was visiting and asked me to call her later. I promised I would call her on my way home from work.

I did not make the call!

Soon Christmas came around and life was hectic. I had given birth in June of that year and found myself juggling many balls in the air.

Next came the eve of the New Year and a phone call showing the name Zenita across the screen. At the same time, my baby yelped out loudly for no reason I could identify.

I answered happily and the voice on the line informed me my friend had suddenly taken a turn for the worse earlier that day and had passed away.

I was shocked and saddened and when I hung up the phone I knew an invaluable jewel had been stolen from us.

My friend had succumbed to a final jab from the evil known as cancer.

Cancer — How I hate that word!


Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

My friend epitomized the meanings of grace, determination, beauty, and hope throughout.

No doubt a journey fraught with pain, fear, and at times despair.

I never heard her complain with bitterness or anger, she remained stalwart. I do know that one of her greatest regrets was that she may not be around for her children.

I will forever regret the call I did not make.

I think of her often and if I listen keenly, I can still hear her gentle tone saying my name.

She was truly a lovely person. And I miss her every day.

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Update on How I am Doing

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I took this picture while at work last Saturday the day I realized I had COVID – looks are deceiving. 

Thank you All for your Prayers and Well Wishes!!!

My friends, I remain in quarantine and I can say that truly God is a good God. Even though I was well aware that I could become infected with COVID, due to the nature of the path I chose,  I thought I was taking all the precautions I could.

I work with two other ladies most frequently and they are both in their sixties and both are cancer survivors. As such whenever we have had to swab and care for a patient “under interest” I have been the one more in contact with the patients as I know these women would be more at risk than myself.

I am not a hero just a human. I have grown to love these women.

Since I have been unwell I have been speaking with both these ladies as they are experiencing symptoms as well. The one lady that I worked my last two shifts with is really feeling poorly even though her COVID test came back negative. She has been having more severe symptoms than myself. She is also in quarantine.

Each day I arise and thank God for Jesus! Yes I am happy. Psalms 23 – Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil….!!!! AMEN.

God is a good God and we shall all make it to the other side, my co-workers and I. I sleep with some healing scriptures playing on my nightstand as I want the healing promises to soak into my spirit even in repose.  (I always do this when I seek God out, I let his word settle in my soul. I will make a post about it one day).

How I feel:

  • Weakness (getting better each day)
  • Shortness of breath with exertion (it is resolving)
  • Headache — my worst symptom (it just hangs around)
  • Inability to concentrate for long periods
  • A heaviness in my head (feeling it as I type this now)
  • Sleeping a lot (the body needs rest to heal)

I never recorded a fever or a cough. 

What I am using for my immune system:

  • Zinc – 15mg
  • Vitamin D -5,000 IU
  • Vitamin C – 1000mg
  • Tumeric, aloe vera, garlic, ginger and celery blended drink (I just chug it down, can’t taste anyway)
  • Rest – as the body dictates
  • Exercise – I keep it moving, even if I just walk around the backyard in the sun.

Some of what breaks my heart:

  1. My boss has the nerve to ask me, “where do you think you got COVID from?” (we have been screening patients prior to surgery, screening and seeing the general public, the doctors see pre-surgery patients as well all day, some of which have been COVID positive and we mingle and share space with those doctors all day!). Is she for real.
  2. We were never given the appropriate protective gear. We wear surgical masks, can you imagine! Surgical masks do not protect from COVID, especially not in a healthcare setting where we are likely to come into direct contact with the virus.
  3. I could have potentially infected my family and my mother is an elderly woman. But I praise and thank GOD!!!!
  4. I cannot hug and comfort my children. My little snookums who I had been sleeping with since his dad left for NY is my constant companion. I have exposed him more so than anyone else. Him being my baby, I tickle and play and kiss him up all the time, and I was already infected and shedding COVID all over my child.
  5. Being unable to be and play with him, now I have to see him in passing and go outside to talk to him for a bit. He always has new engineering wonders to show me and now I cannot interact with him.
  6. On top of me being ill his dad is still in NY, so he does not have a real parent right now. Gee wanted to come home, I said no. We had always decided only one of us would take a risk at any given time.
  7. My daughter is petrified to come down to the bottom floor where I am in my own space.
  8. I am fed by them placing my meals outside my door. That is a hoot…being fed, I find humor in it.

On the road to recovery:

My Gee is always on the phone with me and a source of support and knowledge. My mother and my children are here and my friends are all helping to keep me together. I go outdoors often to look at the plants and I have been watching NETFLIX – oftentimes I fall asleep during a show.

I do love to watch movies and shows in other languages, especially French as I think it activates new neurons to hear and follow the plot while reading subtitles and trying to stay on top of the many nuances. My future guarantee against Alzheimer’s.

So I am coping pretty well.

I trust in my God and in that knowledge, I rest knowing this too shall pass.

Stay blessed and stay well.

 

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Spoken Word — Powerful

I do not know this artist, but his words touch the core of my being.

This spoken word piece was sent to me by my dear cousin. She grew up in England. I thought I would share as it moved me as every word he spoke resonated with me.

I pray someone out there get the message of his words and a heart is influenced.

Peace and blessings.