I found out today that a friend died on Sunday. I t was not totally unexpected; she had been suffering from cancer of the jaw which had metastised. She was in pain in the end, therefore heavily medicated. I almost felt relief, that she was at peace, but a little sad because she was a young woman who had had so much potential.
I am sitting up late trying to work but I keep thinking about her. In a way, she has been another of my inspirations in the last year. When she first got sick about two years ago, I was also going through a difficult patch with my health. We met up a few times at Kenyatta National Hospital, gave each other morale on the waiting lines. I had another friend who was also on the oncology lines at KNH, and we sort of bolstered each other with dark humor about the horror of waiting in pain.
I got better, and got back to work, she tried to. The chemotherapy was too harsh for her. She slowly deteriorated, until she died.
Even when she was weak and in pain, she never gave up. We would talk and her positive outlook would leave me thinking I was a coward. She must have known the end was coming on, because about a month ago, she visited my mum’s house. The last thing she said with her face bunching up in pain, her jaw bone missing from a horrendous surgery, was, ‘As long as you can, just live, do the best you can, and pay your debt to society.’
I thought for a nanosecond how cliché her comment was, but as her sister led her away from my mum’s house, I realised she was right.
Why should I give up before it is over? Why should I do less than the best, if I can do the best? And yes, I owe the world more than it owes me.