God, you give true peace
To people who depend on you,
To those who trust in you.
-Isaiah 26:3 ERV
When he got home that night, he paced the living room for sound thirty minutes muttering, “Jesus, Jesus” in between gusts of rushed breaths and he sometimes said, “What just happened?” then he pulled himself together and went to the room.
He had an issue in his marriage and he went crying to Bimpe, what had he been expecting? Did he think she would whip a magic wand and all would be restored to serenity and bliss in the fairytale garden of his life? What was he thinking? Did he think she would apologize for ever leaving him and they two would have a brand new start? Did he actually go to meet her so he could share his burdens, or did he just do it for the sake of old times, a need to relive dead times?
As he thought about his true intents, seated on the edge of his matrimonial bed, the bed he was at the verge of defiling moments back, he saw that he could not decipher why he had gone out with her, he saw that he did not stop to think, that he acted out on impulse, like he did with Mojoyin and he had almost destroyed everything –again. When would you ever learn Kenechukwu? He chided himself inwardly, in the tone of his mother, with the words she used often on him while growing.
While pondering, he saw also that his impulse was birthed from an immediate desire to escape… to escape boredom, the crushing weight of loneliness and confusion and he took whatever door he saw, not minding what was on the other side of it. He saw also that this was the same reason why he felt the need to kill Precious, the mere memory made him wince inwardly –the child he had in his arms the previous night, that delicate, angel that exuded wonder, the baby that clung to his shirt at the clinic before he handed him over to Mojoyin. That Precious, being buried alive, left to gag and struggle with a mass of sand several times his weight bearing down on him- his inward wince grew to an outward jitter. And the only reason he wanted to take such a drastic step was because he sought escape… from the sudden realities and unknowns that double-crossed him.
Seeking escape, running from harsh realities. This was what made him resort to bottles years back, this was part of what his father trained him to do, as a real man; to be a coward.
He thought again of God’s mercy on him. It was God, and God alone that had saved Precious from the eager jaws of death, it was God that helped him resist a temptation he set himself up for.
He recalled the words the Holy Spirit had dropped in his mind the previous night, I am here for you, son.
Struck afresh by the depth of God’s love, the sheer boundlessness of it, Andrew crashed to his knees and worshipped. He brought before God the things the Holy Spirit had revealed to him about the condition of his own heart, he asked for grace to put to death his members which were upon the earth, trails, and remains of the old man and then he prayed for his wife and son.
Go in this thy might
He stood up. And then decided to do something useful with his insomnia. He picked his phone and searched for top novels on Down’s syndrome, and as he did, he wondered when last he read one of his favourite adventure authors, when last did he write children fiction? A strong desire came over him, a desire to get buried in pages again, pages he read, pages he wrote. Why had he stopped? He stopped when Adebimpe walked out of his life and he lived like he never had that passion, perhaps if she had not gone, he would have published his own book –the anthology of short stories he had always dreamed of publishing. She was his greatest cheerleader.
Andrew, stop right there! No more Adebimpe!
He saw that Kim Edward’s The Memory Keeper’s Daughter topped the list. The novel’s cover art was a white baby blouse on an inky sky backdrop and a line in block letters boasted, ‘1 New York Times bestseller’. After reading a good review published by TheGuardian, he downloaded an epub version of the novel. He had barely read through the preface before he drifted into a sound sleep.
He woke up by 2AM and found it eerie that Uncle Barnabas was on his mind. I should visit with him, he thought, but he paused before acting. Why did he want to visit Uncle Barnabas? Was he looking for another escape? Another distraction? Was this what God wanted him to do? He rose from the bed and walked over to the bathroom to take a leak. He prayed seeking God’s direction and did not send a text to Uncle Barnabas until he was sure God wanted him to do so.
-Good morning sir-
He knew he would get a reply later in the day so he laid back to sleep, then his phone beeped.
-I see someone is having sleepless nights babysitting. How do you do my boy?-
Andrew smiled. Uncle Barnabas and his wry sense of humour.
-What are you doing awake sir?-
-You’re not the only one who has to babysit, I am on this train too-
-Lol. Uncle Barns oh… Do you know have a baby I don’t know about?-
-That’s funny cos you are the baby I am babysitting.. You have been heavy on my heart all day. Actually, since I left your house yesterday after the ceremony. My boy, one thing has been ringing in my spirit. And I need you to know that whatever it is that you are facing, greater is he that is in you. Now, go back to babysitting and let me get back to business!-
Andrew read the text until he was choking on emotions.
-Thank you so much, Uncle Barns. Thank you so much-
-Nonsense, would Precious say thank you to you for lulling him to sleep?-
Andrew wished he was actually lulling his son to sleep.
-Can I come over tomorrow?-
-Don’t come near my door without a box of cake-
-You should cut back on your sugar intake-
-Great. Then you have to get me a sugarless cake. Have fun finding that-
He smiled and lay on his side, it did not take long before he slept off and when he woke up by 6:45, he was awakened by an intense sexual urge. He reached for his wife, groping on her empty side of the bed and even called her name before he remembered. Distressed and grumpy, he stood up to pray, after which he studied his bible.
By eight o’clock he was on his way to Uncle Barnabas apartment.
Lovette had breastfed Precious, changed his diaper, cleaned and dressed him up before he slept off in her arms. She carefully put him in his cot before she went into the bathroom.
She did not like what she saw in the mirror. She sucked in her belly, holding her breath but by the time she released it, it pooled floppily. She was supposed to get on a fitness regimen, but she had more to worry about than her body.
The experience she had overnight had strengthened her. She had some answers and she could see light now. As she asked God the questions that bothered her, answers dropped in her mind at times and other times, he didn’t say anything in response. What did she do to deserve a child like Precious?, the story of the man born blind that Jesus healed came to her mind. The disciples had asked Jesus whose sin had caused the man’s ailment, his or his parents, and Jesus had said in response that it was not anyone’s sin that caused the man’s blindness, but for the sake of God’s glory.
Precious’ condition was for the sake of God’s glory. God had a purpose for him and the extra chromosome in each of his cells was suited for that purpose, they were not just there as a result of an accidental nondisjunction. And God chose her to be his mom because he had prepared her for that purpose. He was in every way intentional.
What would become of Precious? What would he amount to with that condition? The response was one word: trust. She had to trust God and believe the fact that he was the one who would order Precious step in life. She had to hold his hand by faith and hold Precious hand with the other as she took things one day at a time. The Holy Spirit had ministered Isaiah 28:10 to her;
For precept must be upon precept,
Precept upon precept;
Line upon line;
Here a little, and there a little:
And so she chose to quit worrying about what would be because no man by worrying can ever add a cubit to his height, instead, she chose to cast her burdens on Jesus knowing fully well that he cared for her. She would do all that God would allow her do to see that Precious grew to be all that God intended for him.
But she knew she could not do it all by herself, her husband had a role to play. Now that she saw the reality of her own self, forgiving Andrew was not an arduous task, now that she had surrendered her situation to God, she could now see Precious differently. As a baby, not a textbook case, as a precious child not a tragedy.
She stepped out of the bathroom and quickly got dressed. She picked her diamond wedding rings from her purse and tried wearing them. They could now fit. She smiled and she realized how much she missed her husband. She remembered the day he gave her the engagement ring. That balmy day in October, at the beach with fluttering palms and crashing waves. Her smiled broadened.
Lovette turned her smile to Aunty Hauwa.
“How was your night, Aunty?”
“Oh, it was really long. Come let me show you something”
Lovette followed Aunty Hauwa to her study and she showed her a blog post on noahsdad.com. Lovette drank in the true life story of Rick Smith and his wife who herself is a paediatrician, a couple who were oblivious of the fact that the child they were about to have would be born with Down’s syndrome. She hung on to every word of the story, able to relate, stunned by the similarity and yet moved by the uniqueness it. By the time she was done, she had tears in her eyes.
She grabbed her own phone and opened the site in Chrome. She downed as many posts as she could, following the development of Rick’s son, Noah. The hope in those posts, the truths, made her see that she was not alone, that people had gone through this and conquered, so she could conquer too. There was no way she could miss the strong love the parents had for their son, it shone through each of the posts.
She went to search for Noahsdad on Facebook and the community immediately popped. She scanned through the posts; pictures, videos of Noah, now seven years old and faring fine. He could swim, he could walk, run, he had a close friend he was hugging in a picture, of course, there were pictures with his family.
Lovette sighed, dropped her phone and stared up at the ceiling.
“There is hope”
“Yes my dear,” Aunty Hauwa said “And this is the time to join hands with your husband to build what God has put in your care. A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“I get you.” Lovette stood up. “I’m going back home today”
Aunty Hauwa smiled. “There is hope in the future that I see”
Lovette picked her phone and sent the link to the story of the Smiths to Andrew on what’s App. Then she went to her room to pack.
He was still talking with Uncle Barns when the light flashing on his phone screen caught his attention. His eyes caught a notification of a message from ‘Love’ and he started, snatched up his phone and took a pause to consider. He drew a steadying breath as he wondered what the worst content on the text could be. It was a link. He tapped on it and for the next ten minutes, he was absorbed by the story, completely subsumed in another world, the Smith’s world.
Rick Smith’s perspective of his own son, Noah, his unflinching love for the child right from the start hit Andrew like a sledgehammer blow in the gut. He saw himself again and held back tears. Was this why Lovette sent the link? To again remind him of his cruelty?
Barnabas watched Andrew wordlessly, waiting for him to say something. But when he lifted his eyes from the phone, he only made a phone call. Barnabas saw his eyes fill up before he could turn them away.
“Lovette, I’ve read the story. I realize my mistake. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please come home… please come back home”
“Hey, hang on. I think I should be the one begging you to come back home. Where on earth are you?”
Andrew paused, blinking. “You are at home?”
“You don’t want me to be?”
He panted and in between his rushed breathing he chuckled. “Don’t move. I would be with you in a bit. In a really tiny bit.” He was already on his feet, grabbing his car key from atop Uncle Barn’s round dining table. He ran off without remembering to say goodbye to Barnabas. Barnabas smiled
He entered his room to meet Lovette unpacking. She turned a smile to him.
“Your wife is back”
“Wow! I don’t even know what to say”
“How about welcome?”
Andrew laughed in a nervous rush before he swiftly crossed the room and swooped down on her with a tight hug.
“Oh, sweetheart. I’m so sorry, I-”
“Shhh…” She said hugging him back. “It’s fine. Together, we will pull through”
Andrew disengaged from the hug.
He went to his baby’s crib that was beautifully set up in a corner of their room and watched him, keenly, closely, lovingly. How could he have thought of this bundle of grace as an alien? He forced down tears. His fingers moved to carry Precious but he stopped himself, he was not going to push his luck.
He turned to his wife. “Can I?”
“You don’t need anyone’s permission to be the father of your own son.”
There it was. His redemption, his restoration, Lovette had now restored his license to be Precious’ father. He could hold back the tears no longer.
“I lost that right when I wished him dead.”
“So did I” Lovette confessed with tears in her eyes. “When the mask of my self-righteousness slipped off, I saw that I was not much different from you. God chose us for him, and still kept him with us in spite of our cruel hearts and acts.”
Andrew sighed. “Thank God for the holy spirit, we don’t have to live under the deceitfulness of our hearts any longer”
He scooped up the swathed bundle that his son was in one supple move. As he held him close, his heart blessed him. Lovette stood behind him, holding his waist.
He dropped the child carefully and turned to his wife. They stood staring into each other’s eyes for seconds before Andrew’s eyes caught the painting on the wall.
“Lovette, there’s been something on my mind”
“What is it?” Her eyes were alert, serious, the mush that was in them gone.
“Are ostrich eggs that big or did the artist just overdo?” He pointed to the painting and Lovette laughed, he too laughed.
“You are not serious at all.”
His statement died as Lovette stood on her toes to press her lips against his. His passion that was bubbling right under the surface came to fore.
She drew back and said “You talk too much,” before she leaned in for a more passionate kiss. As he enjoyed it, he remembered the last time he was silenced with a kiss and he knew he had to tell her all about Bimpe immediately like he agreed to do while he discussed with Uncle Barns.
He stepped back.
“What is it?” She searched his eyes.
“I need to tell you something”
“Something about ostriches?” Lovette joked.
Andrew sighed and looked down.
“Oh, this seems serious”
“Yes, it is. How do I even put this? Okay. On the day we had the baby, I ran into Adebimpe at the mall, we had a small talk and she gave me her card. Yesterday I got bored, picked her card and put a call through to her-”
“Hang on. Which Adebimpe is this?” Lovette’s brows were now knitted tightly. Andrew swallowed.
“The one I was with on campus.”
“So while I was dangling between life and death, you occupied yourself with small talk with your ex?”
“Look it’s not like that. Like I said, I ran into her. Coincidence.”
“I hear you,” Her arms were now akimbo “So you called her, what next?”
Andrew fiddled with his fingers “Okay, so I started baring out my heart to her,”
“By baring your heart you mean?”
“Telling her of the baby, the issues, our-”
“Our family issues?” Lovette’s jaws were set. Andrew nodded. “Wow! I turn my back for one minute and what do you do? You go running to one Bim-whatever you call her with our internal issues. I left for just a day! One day, Andrew. We’ve been married for how long? Just a year and you are already running to an ex.”
“Look I’m sorry. I just needed to clear my head”
“And she was the best person you could think of, whatever happened to Uncle Barns?”
“She was just the first that came to my mind”
“Ah! The first, that says much”
“My bad! Lovette it says nothing biko. You are the first, the only.” He hadn’t even dropped the bombshell yet and things were already escalating this quickly. His heart pounded.
“Stories that touch the rat” She rolled her eyes. “So what did she have to say? Let me guess, she said you should not have married me, you should have waited for her to regain her senses.”
“No, she did not say anything like that, she basically just listened.” A second passed, then another.
Maybe I should just bury the rest of the story
All, say it all
“We met up that evening and after I talked she shocked me with a sudden kiss” He rushed his statement and added more clearly, “I tell you Lovette, I did not kiss back. I did not.”
He expected a yell or something dramatic but Lovette just stared at him with a placid smile then she turned to the door. He grabbed her hands “Please baby,”
She jerked her hand free and waved a slap to his face, it connected with a loud sound. Andrew gaped. Why would she slap him?
“Don’t touch me! So you guys kissed what else did you do?” The smile was gone in its stead was a straight look.
“You have to believe me, nothing happened. I left immediately”
“Nothing happened? You sharing your mouth, the same mouth you used to vow your loyalty to me, with someone else, is nothing?”
“We did not kiss”
“What’s happening here? A few seconds back you said you guys did”
“No!” He was becoming angry “She kissed me, I did not kiss back!”
“Cock and ex story. Last I checked, kisses were shared not given and returned.”
Andrew held himself from bursting out at Lovette for being unreasonable and why would she slap him? If the roles were reserved, it would be a big matter. Why would she dare raise her hand at him? As he heaved, turning self-justifying thoughts in his mind, the Holy Spirit showed him that it was either he held onto his anger as Lovette did same and watch a chasm yawn between them, or he swallowed his pride and crossed it for his sake and hers.
As Lovette stared at him she realized that she had gone overboard, like she was prone to. Slapping him was wrong. She believed that he did not kiss Bimpe but why did he reach out to her at the point of his vulnerability? In his vulnerability, he had denied his flesh and honoured his marital vows. He had honoured her enough to confess what happened. She inhaled deeply and let out her breath in a sentence, at the same time Andrew did same.
“I’m sorry” They chorused.
Andrew touched her arm, grabbed her and pulled her to himself. She gave him a funny look, he exhaled and smiled.
“It’s so good to have you back”
“Okay, this is bland” He dropped his cutlery “how do you even manage to eat it?”
“By tasting the love that made you try” She supplied smiling at him, “and that is really sweet”
“Aww,” he cooed jokingly. “Not all of us have the grace to cook well”
“Maybe if you stayed when mum was trying to teach you I would not be struggling with this food as sweet as chaff”
“Ouch” He flinched “Maybe if Daddy allowed me to step a foot in the kitchen I would not have been so eatery, buka and suya dependent all through my thirty years of being a bachelor”
They laughed. Silence.
“I have to take Precious to the hospital tomorrow and you are taking me there”
“Why? Did I take you to Aunty Hauwa’s place?”
“Really?” she chuckled “The ophthalmologist called, we agreed that a glasses that Precious could grow with should be made as well as a coated plastic contact lens, she said he would start using them by four months. What if the glasses don’t correct the strabismus, what if a surgery is required? What if he doesn’t live long? Andrew we have literally emptied our savings on hospital bills, what would be our gain?” She had a frown of worry and despair on her face.
“What if he lives long, what would become of him in the future? What if he fails his six months Leukemia screening? What if he develops more complications?” Andrew added to her questions.
Then Lovette remembered what the Lord had told her.
For precept must be upon precept,
Precept upon precept;
Line upon line;
Here a little, and there a little:
“I guess we have to take things one step at a time, trusting God all the way,” Andrew said.
Lovette sighed and nodded. “It’s just that at times, I get the feeling that we are trying to escape reality by seeking false solace in God”
“I can relate. But we have to know that we have no reality outside God, he is our reality, for it’s in him we live, move and have our being”
Lovette sat back. “In him, we live, move and have our being” She sighed. “I’ve been thinking, Andrew I don’t want to resume work. I want to be a stay-at-home mom for Precious, like Deanna Smith.”
“Who is Deanna Smith?”
“A blogger and mother of Addison who also has DS”
Asides, noahsdad.com that Andrew and Lovette studied together, they read other resources online related to DS. Andrew had loved Emily Perl Kingsley’s Welcome to Holland, he liked the creative way the writer employed in relating the experience of having a child with special needs with a traveller’s shock when he realizes the trip to Italy he had so much prepared for lands him in Holland, in her poem. He had also finished reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, he saw trails of himself in the protagonist, David Henry and the ripple effect giving away his daughter who had Down’s had on his life and family made Andrew thank God for saving Precious’ life. It seemed reading opened up the pores from which his creative juices sprang, Andrew wrote a short story for the first time in years during that time and Lovette loved it and encouraged him to write more.
Lovette on the other hand loved connecting with the stories of parents of people with DS in the comment section of noahsdad.com, as well as the community on Facebook. It made her come close to people with an experience similar to hers albeit over a virtual space, it reminded her that she was not alone, that people had walked the path she was on, there were many more people doing all they could to give their children with special needs all their love and the best in life. She learned from the practical life experiences of those people more than she did from theoretic articles. She also shared her experiences and was glad to get responses.
“I see. Are you sure about this?” He wiped his mouth with a napkin. “Having so much free time on your hands could be depressing you know”
“Yeah, but Precious needs maximum attention moreover, this could be an opportunity to start the bible club I’ve been dreaming of for years. I know teaching makes me happy, but I feel this is the need of the moment.”
“We’ll pray about it.”
Lovette nodded. “I wish we were abroad. Getting a therapist for Precious is so hard around here and Dr Amogbonjaye keeps emphasising the need for early intervention.”
“I thought she shared some contacts with you”
“He needs speech, occupational and physical therapies I don’t know anyone who can provide all three services… The therapists she told me of are scattered all over the country.”
Lovette pushed her plate aside, worried. She had found some resources about the therapies online and she was trying to do something. She read that gluing Kinesio tapes on the baby’s body could help his muscle tone and so one day, she made a genius move and decided to use sellotape instead. She had been so proud of her ingenuity until she glued the sellotape on his skin and Precious erupted with a cry. Startled, she took off the tape and the skin rose in a red welt. She was frustrated. Her ingenuity failed. Whenever she flashed things in his face, he didn’t try to reach, he didn’t even follow them with his eyes sometimes. She knew nothing of Beckman’s oral therapy. There was only so much she could do. She wished she had fore knowledge of all Precious needed. She felt inadequate, hapless.
Andrew pushed back his chair and came over to Lovette, he stood behind her and massaged her shoulders.
“Babe, take it easy on yourself. Breathe” She exhaled “We will be fine, okay? We’d find the perfect therapists even if it means taking Precious from one therapist to the other. You know the Smiths did that for Noah, so even abroad they don’t always have it together.”
“By next week, he should start the therapies. The doctor told me he’s to start when he’s three weeks old.”
“Before next week, God would send us help.” He leaned down to kiss the curve of her neck. “Now eat your food.”
She eyeballed him. “I’m done with this yeye thing.”
“Ahn ahn, why? You no dey taste the love again?”
They both laughed.
Question for the week
What did you know of Down’s syndrome before you started reading this series?
- Nothing at all.
- I just knew it’s a condition
- I’ve seen people who have DS
- I thought it was a demonic attack
- I knew a lot about DS before now.
Please let’s answer this opinion poll question. Thank you.
NEXT ON DOWN
Jarret strolled into the house tugging off his tie, throwing his laptop bag into the couch and saying “Dupe, I’m home oh. And I’m hungry”
He didn’t get a response. He eased himself into the couch, unlaced his suede shoes and tossed them carelessly, knowing fully well that when Modupe sees them, she would berate him.
“Dupe oh! Ebi’n pa mi! (I’m hungry)”
Still, he did not get a response. He hissed, got up and headed to the kitchen, it was empty.
When he entered the room, he stopped dead in his tracks. He saw his wife sprawled on the tiled floor, still beside an empty bottle of pills.