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October 10th 1989 in St. Monica memorial hospital at 5:45pm in labour room 6, a baby was born. It was a boy, the delighted parents called him Patrick James Avery (PJA). At 7:42pm, a baby was born in labour room 3 of St Monica memorial hospital, 1 hour 57 minutes after Patrick, Tabitha Miriam William (TMW) was born.
Both parents were released from the hospital same time. The Avery’s parked 4 cars away from the William’s, but they never knew each other. They didn’t know either that they both arrived the hospital the same time, the parking pass the Avery’s got was 409, the William’s 408.
They lived at opposite parts of town, but many times throughout their lives, they’ll cross paths at the grocery store, gas station and once at a mutual friend’s baby christening, but neither knew the other existed.
In the fall of 2006, Tabitha was going South to University of South Carolina, she bumped into Patrick at the baggage claim carousel and she politely apologised, he didn’t bother because he was engrossed in his phone as he pulled a medium sized box away.
They’ll later meet again at arrivals looking for their pick ups, but their paths will not cross, at least not for the next 24hours.
At USC, Tabitha’s roommate Emma didn’t hide her shock when Tabitha in response to her question, said she was going to be studying African History. She had always wanted to know about her roots.
“There is a thing like that?” Emma asked perplexed.
“I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t now, would I?” Tabitha was tired of people reacting that way whenever she mentions African history. She however decided never to mention ‘creative writing’ was her minor.
She will run into Patrick again in the cafeteria during fresher’s week.
African History was a class of 19. They all introduced themselves when Prof Tasha Malik instructed. She took note of the only white male in the class, he said his name was Patrick Avery, he kinda look cute, Liam Hemsworth cute was how she described him to Emma.
He was quite smart and majored in Political science, A.H was his minor.
For the next four years in the university, the two became friends.
They graduated and went their separate ways and time happened and they lost touch. They met five years later at a wedding. They sat at the singles’ table. Tabitha’s cousin Sebastian was her plus one to the wedding, but he called and cancelled last minute, she was already dressed for the wedding when he cancelled.
It was the first time she will go to a wedding alone in years, since she broke up with her boyfriend that spring.
She and Patrick reconnected immediately and at the end of the wedding, walked hand in hand back to Tabitha’s hotel room. They had a lot of catching up to do.
At the end of the short weekend, they both were on their way to the airport. Patrick promised to visit her soon, he had asked her to be his girlfriend the day before and had promised he will hunt her down for a reply if she ever delayed.
She liked him too but she wanted to be sure the sparks she felt that weekend was real and not just rebound.
Patrick worked with the New York times, the politics column while Tabitha cherished the warmth of California, but their love scales across cities and climates.
Soon enough, she got a spot for a short course in Juilliard which made her move to New York, or Juilliard was just an excuse to move closer to Patrick.
As weeks turned to months, their love grew.
On a vacation in Puerto Rico, Patrick, on bended knee asked Tabitha to marry him and of course she said yes. There was no doubt at all that he was the one she’d rather spend her eternity with but if there were, the proposal cleared everything. She felt loved by his proposal, and he proved to her one more time that he listens. Even times when she gets mad that he can’t listen to her over the television, he either lowers the volume and focuses on her or not listen to her at all. She was angry that he couldn’t multitask.
Tabitha, even though was initially against the idea, Patrick insisted on painting her toenails himself. He would paint her nails, cuticles and the surrounding skin, Tabitha will take a day or two peeling the nail polish dried on her skin which pissed her off. She later grew to love it too as Patrick got better with his painting.
It was a time Patrick paid undivided attention to her nails, she treasured those times like she did when he cooked for her. They’ll chat as he does it, and the proposal proved he was indeed a good listener.
She had mentioned a couple of times though not in plain words, that she’d rather have an intimate proposal than most she sees online these days. She was happy with them being the only witnesses and could take pictures of the ring afterwards for her friends and family.
So it was no surprise when Patrick proposed the way he did.
El Conquistador resort was breathtakingly gorgeous. She loved the spacious rooms, white sheets and the glass walls overlooking the beach. The serenity of the environment in Fajardo made her fall in love with the little Island of Puerto Rico.
This evening, as they lay on their beach beds by the sand outside their hotel room, they talked about university days and mutual friends. Tabitha said she heard Emma got married and moved to Asia. They talked about life and the future.
And right there, with just the two of them in the warmth of the Caribbean night, Patrick went on one Knee and asked her to marry him. She was relaxed and calm, she couldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Soon enough, they were in Luis Muñoz Marin airport in San Juan heading back to New York.
Wedding preparations was in full gear, Patrick joked about not making her ‘the lord of the rings’ and said to keep their engagement as short as possible. She had spoken to her mum who was to arrive New York and help her pick a wedding dress the following week.
On the morning she was to meet the event planner, she got off the video call with Patrick who was on his way to her place. She was running late as she hadn’t even had her bath yet.
She stepped out of the shower and made for the door when she saw a roach. She screamed and missed a step while running. Her head hit the toilet sink and she passed out.
She woke up on a gurney to two uniformed paramedics.
“Ma’am, can you tell us your name?”, the lanky paramedic asked. He could pass for an anorexic but he had a beautiful smile.
“Tabitha”, she replied almost in a whisper.
“We are taking you to a hospital, you had a little accident and passed out. Your fiancé walked in and called 911.” the shorter paramedic said. He was a very unattractive man who in his thirties have given in to his love for beer, so much so that his midsection could be likened to that of a pregnant woman in her second trimester.
The doctors were worried, Tabitha wasn’t. She was more worried to know if the roach touched her when she passed out. Patrick said he didn’t see any roach when he saw her passed out but she kept asking the nurse if she could take another shower just in case the roach touched her.
She was out of the hospital shower and in her regular clothes which thanks to Patrick who remembered to get her some clothes before driving behind the ambulance; when the red head nurse called her to see Dr Turow.
Dr Turow didn’t look happy at all as he motioned for she and Patrick to sit opposite him.
“Your scans are back Tabitha, but I am afraid I have some bad news”, he held up her scan result as he circled a part which he said there was an anomaly.
“Tabitha, there is a tumour on your brain. It does not affect you in any way, at least not right now but it’s deadly”, he was quiet, as if to let it sink in for a while and then continue. Patrick reached out and held her hand.
Dr Turow continued, “Here is the bad news, the tumour is inoperable.”
Tabitha was quiet, tears that filled her eyes started to overflow, silent hot tears rolled down her cheeks like oozing volcano.
“I’ll say, 9 months give or take a month or two, before she can’t function any more.” Dr Turow said when Patrick asked what her chances were. He recommended treatment immediately which he said could not guarantee better health.
Patrick wanted another opinion from a different oncologist. Tabitha lost the will to live when a second opinion sounded worst than the first.
The wedding plan was put on hold as she started aggressive treatment, she felt faint and weak half the time with her mum and Patrick encouraging her to push a little harder. Slowly she saw her feelings reflecting in the people she loved, Patrick was a shadow of himself and her mum had no life but in a hospital beside her bed, or in her house taking care of her. Five months after she started chemo and six after Dr Turow’s diagnosis, she decided to quit chemo.
“It will not make me better, instead it makes me feel worst, loosing the little time I have left to spend with loved ones. I want to go back to living like I was, before realising I had a tumour. I have given more credit to the tumour than it deserves and I let it rob me of life. I won’t anymore. If the tumour kills me, so be it, a man has to die due to one thing or the other. For now, I will live life and be happy.” she had said to Patrick and her mum who were worried she was quitting chemo.
The months that followed were happy ones, occasional tears here and there but they were better than the days of chemotherapy. Their love grew and she could see a bit of sunshine in Patrick’s eyes again. They traveled to Vegas for the weekend and she told her mum they’ll be back by the end of the week but instead, they were on a flight to Paris. It was like it used to be, like it was when they fell in love almost two years ago, they were like themselves again, like it should have been if not for cancer.
On a dinner date in paris, after having dinner, Patrick had hired a cart to take them around paris and in there, with her head on his shoulders she said, “we would have been married by now you know”, smiling into the night.
“Let’s do it then” Patrick said.
“Are you crazy? I am dying soon, there is no need.”
“You have said it before, we have given too much to this tumour, we let it rob us for far too long. A love like ours comes once in a lifetime, are you willing to let cancer rob you of it? ‘Cos I am not.”
“Are you sure you want to do this Patrick? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.” Tabitha said as she held unto his hands and looked him dead in the eye.
They signed the papers and ran out of the registry laughing like cheeky high schoolers.
Back in New York, she started to feel sick; and in Kotoka int’l airport in Accra, a heavily pregnant woman ~ Nana ~ is checking in to a plane to move to america and be with her husband, have her baby and begin life.
The weeks that followed passed by quickly, and on July the tenth, Tabitha closed her eyes never to open them again, she wasn’t scared, she was comforted as Patrick held her tight.
It was over, not for Tabitha but for the man whose heart she held the keys to, the man who willingly signed up to be an inmate in her heart and even as he buried her in the earth, he buried her love deeper in his heart and then he started to sink. He sank deep down into depression and never recovered.
On the third month anniversary of her death and the day they both should have turned twenty eight, he closed his eyes never to wake up, an eternal sleep where he will find comfort in the arms of the woman he loved.
~ 10/10/2017~
Later that evening, in St. Monica memorial hospital, Nana had a baby girl in labour room 1 at 7:42pm and she was called Tamar Mimi Walbe (TMW). What they didn’t know is that 1 hr and 57minutes ago, a family welcomed a baby boy in the same labour room before Nana, they had a baby boy and they named him Paul Jonathan Arthur (PJA).
So what if life is just a replay?
What if the life you live, someone has lived it?
What if the life you live, someone will live it?
Just what if????

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