Ade blinked. He knew what Parkinson’s Disease was.
He heard her swallow. “I got diagnosed in October last year. It’s still in stage one but it’s progressing to stage two.” she muttered still avoiding his eyes.
Ade tried to speak but no words came out and honestly, he didn’t know what to say.
The silence got louder.
“You don’t have to say anything. I have to go.” she said as she opened the door.
“Lola, I…” he started but didn’t know what else to say.
“It’s fine.” she whispered as she got out of the car.
He wanted to stop her but he didn’t know what to say. He got a whiff of her perfume as she hurriedly got out. Calvin Klein. Euphoria. The state of his feelings a few minutes ago. Now, he didn’t even know.
This couldn’t really be happening. Parkinson’s Disease? Lola? Why? She was an amazing human being. He remembered the first time he saw the picture that Tomi had posted on instagram. Tomi was a pretty girl but Lola grabbed his attention. She was wearing minimal makeup but had the kind of effortless beauty that made braids and a white t-shirt look amazing. He instantly looked up her page and just kept going from picture to picture falling in love with her face and tapping the screen of his iPhone ever so lightly so as not to accidentally like any of her pictures. He remembered wondering why he had never seen her with Tomi. He had restrained himself from calling Tomi to harass her for hiding away such a beautiful friend. She prided herself in being a matchmaker and he knew what would have followed. Not like he minded but he didn’t want anything to feel forced.
As luck would have it, he saw her at Leke’s graduation! You definitely can’t stare at someone’s pictures for that long and not remember them when you see them in person. He noticed Leke looking in the same direction and hoped to God that he wasn’t thinking the same thing. Fortunately, Leke was admiring the girl sitting next to her so they both had good reasons to walk up to their table. Seeing her up close was even better than on instagram. She was beautiful in an unassuming way and after explaining to her how he had seen her before, she reluctantly gave him her number.
The conversations began and they became so often that he would speak to her 2 or 3 times a day. While everyone else called him Dewale or Wale she called him Ade in a sing-song tone that he really liked. He found it so easy to confide in her and would find himself telling her things as they happened and before he told anyone else. She made him feel like a comedian. He didn’t really know why she found him so funny but if her hearty laughter was anything to go by, then Kevin Hart had best watch his back.
They started hanging out a lot and he loved it. He came up with Palms Sundays and it became such a tradition that all his friends knew that Ade would not be available to hang out on Sundays. They had undeniable chemistry but their connection transcended the physical. He loved the way she reasoned. When anyone upset him at work or at home or any complex situation presented itself, he would call her and she always knew what to say and what he could do.
After tasting a few cupcakes that she had baked, he encouraged her to start a business out of it. He was her first customer and convinced 3 of his friends to randomly surprise their girlfriends with her cupcakes. Lola had positively impacted his life too. She had encouraged him to join a department in his church and now he occasionally wrote articles for his church’s magazine. It was a wonderful experience and a number of people had walked up to him to thank him after reading some of his articles. Also, when a clerical error caused millions to go missing in the bank where he worked and he had been suspended pending the investigation, she supported him every step of the way, encouraged him and prayed with him and not only was his suspension lifted, the bank wrote a letter to him apologizing for the situation and gave him a salary bonus the following month.
He undoubtedly had feelings for her. Undoubtedly. He had been stalling on asking her out because he wanted it to be perfect and he wanted to be sure. He was still praying about it too. She didn’t seem to mind and didn’t leave any “subtle” hints. Her easy, breezy nature was one of the many things he loved about her.
He hadn’t said it yet but he loved her. He knew he did.
The more he thought about it, the more he remembered. The tremors were not very often and almost unnoticeable but he noticed everything about her. He had brushed it off as clumsiness or nervousness and didn’t think much of it at the time. One time when they were out for lunch, her hands were shaking a little too much that she knocked over his wine glass and spilled its contents in her plate. They had laughed it off and ordered another plate. Another time when they were both feeling nostalgic after talking about their childhoods, they bought the juice box Ribena but he remembered that she was having trouble steadying her hand enough to poke the top with the straw. He had to collect it from her and helped her do it but he remembered that she was upset and it took her a while to be jovial again. At the time, he had brushed it off as probably a mood swing. Now it made perfect sense.
Parkinson’s was not like malaria or a fever. It was not the kind of disease that holds a person down for a few days and after some medication and bed rest, sets the person free. It was a slow, degenerative monster that attacked and gradually consumed any person it chose as a host. The most devastating thing about it was that there was no cure! Alternative medicine and therapies only served to manage it but eventually the disease always gained the upper hand. As it progressed, she would have slow and limited movements because of the stiffness that would develop in her muscles. It would make it hard for her to get out of a chair or turn around in bed. Then it would get harder for her to talk and swallow. She would lose the movement of muscles in her face and eventually have a vacant facial expression which would gradually make her speech slower and softer. Then walking would become a task and her posture would worsen. Eventually, she would become a vegetable.
He sighed heavily. This was a lot to take in. Why did this have to be happening? He was turning 25 next month and she was only 23. Why?! This wasn’t something they could ignore or sweep under the rug. If they were going to be together then her illness was his problem too. Wow. He believed in God’s power to heal every and any disease but right now…this was too much. Not for God but for him.
Lola was sitting in the dark in her bedroom. She didn’t have the strength to put on the light. She hadn’t heard him drive off yet. He was still in his car in front of her gate probably regretting seeing her picture on instagram and seeing her at his cousin’s graduation. Her eyes were past red and swollen at this point. She was already tired of crying.
Getting diagnosed was like a nightmare that she was yet to wake up from. An 8-months long nightmare. She could’ve done without telling him but that would have been very evil. She didn’t have the conscience to do that. Besides her family, he was the first person that she had told and it had been so hard and excruciating.
She didn’t expect anything. You can’t ask a 25 year old guy with big dreams and a bright future to commit himself to someone that is God knows how many years away from being a vegetable. It just wasn’t fair. To him or to her. Nothing about this was fair. As if to mock her, her hands shook for a few seconds as she felt her neck stiffen. She laughed. A sad, painful laugh. Perfect timing.
Ade felt like he was in a bind. Why did life have to be like this? Lola was an amazing individual and no doubt better than the kind of girl he had always wanted to end up with. He had always wanted to be with a simple, reserved and intelligent girl but she was way more than that. He sighed. It was one of two things. He could decide to be with her regardless and with God in control they could deal with her illness together or, he could decide to save his young heart and walk away.
She heard his tires screech lightly as her phone beeped. He had sent her a text.
“I love you very much Lola but this was not what I had hoped or planned and I’m sorry for doing this via text. Would you be my girlfriend?”
“Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7
It is so easy to say you love someone when things are perfect or normal or even when things are really tough. But can you still stand by your confession when things get unbelievably terrible and incredibly bleak? Can the worst of the worst situations change your feelings?
The bible does not talk about “Real Love” or “True Love“. It simply talks about “Love” because at every point in time, that is always exactly what it should be.