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Life is blissful considering the many aspects of social life we enjoy with our loved ones. However, there comes a time of loss, and everything would appear upside-down. Intense feelings of grief, bitterness, emotional distress, and psychological imbalances are phenomenal when a loved one dies (Balk, Zaengle, and Corr 145). It would later learn as a minor when my close cousin, named Steven, who died of leukemia at the age of 21, but found out he had cancer at the age of 19. In the aftermath of his demise, I was almost depressed. There were intense feelings of loss and sadness, and I always withdraw from friends and most social settings. While I would accept support from my loved ones, I have completely lost the taste for vibrant social gatherings either at school, within our homestead or in the neighborhoods.
My parents said that I should accompany them to the hospital to visit Steven. It would make him happy. It was on a Friday evening eight years ago. I remember this day vividly as if it was yesterday. It was a painful evening among the many that we encountered because of the misfortune that had dawned on us. Minutes later, we reached the hospital and entered his room. He welcomed us with a big smile on his face. Only it did not last long as it was accompanied with a slight whimper as he returned to bed. We all held his hand and said hello with sympathetic expressions on our faces. My mother probed to find out if the food was sufficient and how the nurses were treating him. In a moment a nurse came in and smiled at him saying, "Hi Steven, I see you have visitors." No sooner had Steven chuckled than he started groaning in agony. The nurse rushed to him and helped to contain the pain in vain. It appeared like Steven could not take it anymore. My heart melted, my conscience was lost for once, I though sickness could be a part of the chores we do at home so I could help Steven fight back. It was a depressing moment. I went closer to the bed and said amidst sighs of grief, "Steven, you will be alright I promise".
School and domestic chores lost meaning to me in the absence of Steven, my mentor, and role model, such a lovely peer. After some days we went back to check on his progress, but his deteriorating health saddened us. This time he did not smile upon seeing us. He was barely awake and only spoke a few words. The once cheerful nurse was no longer pleasant then. She came to Steven's room with a melancholic face. She informed my parents of Steven's worsening cancer condition. The radiation treatment was taking a toll on him. I later researched on radiotherapy and chemotherapy in cancer management and the symptoms were that severe (Shimada et al. 179). He could not handle the pain. The nurses had given him the maximum dosage of painkillers, but Steven still writhed with pain. We left hoping and praying that everything would be okay with him. The tension was palpable, and despair was real among family members. Fortunately, after one year of battling Leukaemia, Steven's health improved and he was well. Despite lack of hair as a result of the radiation, he looked more cheerful than ever. We all organized a welcome home party for him at his parent's house. We showered him with lots of love and gifts you could think it was Christmas. Half a year later, the cancer was back, and I felt I was losing the war! What a misfortune! It has never been sadder than the day we received the news. Steven was afraid. He did not want to undergo the painful experience he had suffered the previous year. I could see it on his face even as he reassured his family and himself. He was like a brother to me. The doctor understood Steven's predicament and offered an alternative. He asked us to consider a bone marrow transplant as an alternative treatment. Steven smiled hopefully. He preferred 12 hours of surgery to endless months of radiation treatment. He was scheduled immediately for the operation.
On the morning of the surgery, the whole family visited him in his room and said a short prayer to wish him a successful operation. Little did we know how unsuccessful it would be. After the anesthesia kicked in, it was the last time we saw Steven awake. Twelve hours later, his eyes were still shut. Now he only saw the darkness that we had hoped the doctors would save him from. He was in a comma. The sadness overwhelmed us. Steven's mother was in so much pain that she fainted and we had to care for her until she was conscious. We went home with little hope in our hearts. Day after day, I visited Steven alone. Both his parents felt too much pain to see him in his condition. However, I had never given up on him and went to the hospital every day after school. The doctors said that during the surgery, there were some complications and his kidney was failing. After the hospital notified his parents that he had little time left, they brought a priest to his room who prayed for him. A week later he died. We buried him as our tears filled his grave.
The first year was hard, and not used to not having around as he visits us every week. I had trouble thinking or different things other than Steven. There was difficulty accepting that he was no more, I have a longing lasting for him ever to appear again. The positive memories about my cousin often leave me without trust for the world and whatever is in it, with grieving that seems to worsen than improve. I miss you, Steven, rest in peace.
Balk, David E., Donna Zaengle, and Charles A. Corr. “Strengthening Grief Support for Adolescents Coping with a Peer’s Death.” School Psychology International 32(2), 2011, pp. 144–162.
Shimada, Takako, T. Saito, M. Okadome, K. Shimamoto, K. Ariyoshi, T. Eto, Y. Tomita, and K. Kodama “Secondary Leukemia after Chemotherapy And/or Radiotherapy for Gynecologic Neoplasia.” International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, 2014, pp. 178–183.
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