LESSON #4

Procrastination

My mother always said “procrastination is the thief of time”. ‘Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today”. Those were her ways of emphasizing the need to not procrastinate. “Do what you must whether you like it or not as putting it off doesn’t make the task go away”.

I would like to proudly say that I do not procrastinate, however I would be lying, because even after facing the lessons I will share in this chapter I still procrastinate. I have therefore drawn the conclusion that it’s just a negative habit that we all need to address.

Looking back on several missed opportunities I have had, if I did not procrastinate then, or make up silly excuses as to why the task or goal was not achieved, I would probably today be a better salesperson, trainer, entrepreneur or friend.

As it relates to relationships, I strongly advise that you do all you can, as soon as you can, as you may realise that although you may have the desire to do something, wishful thinking isn’t enough. Just follow the Nike slogan and “just do it” as soon as you can.

The Bible states that our days are numbered.  This means we have a limited time to accomplish all our dreams, goals and desires.  Since our days are not infinite it is therefore important that we spend it as wisely as possible with those we care about ,because tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

In 1996 my cousin who was like my sister died of Lymphoma which is a type of aggressive cancer. I felt so badly about the situation because the day she was referred to the hospital to get checked she stopped by the building society where I was working at the time and told me that she was scared to go to the hospital because she was going to die.

My cousin Kerene attended the Queens School for girls at the time where she was a fourth former.  Kerene, had high hopes that one day she would become a doctor and was always full of ideas. As usual being my “overly optimistic” and naïve self, I said: “Stop the foolishness, you won’t die, look how many times I’ve visited the hospital. You will be fine.”

Later that day my aunt called stating that my cousin would be admitted to the local hospital as she had a collapsed lung. The months went by and all the hospital did was biopsies and blood transfusion. Kerene remained hopeful that she would be healed hence she had her books which she read during her stay.

In those days if you had cancer the doctors would keep the information top secret. You would only be told when it became apparent that you didn’t have long to live. My mother and aunt kept asking questions but the doctors were not forthright with them. One day, we were told that Kerene had to be transferred to the a special hospital where she would be treated for the lung condition that she had.

The experience at this new hospital was not a positive one as the patients on her ward just kept dying. You could see that the patients were in pain and on top of that, the elderly kept asking her for help as she was young.

I visited my cousin frequently bringing her favourite desserts and I tried my best to cheer her up whatever way I could. One day she asked me to touch her abdomen which was quite hard at the time and said she couldn’t feel anything at the area. That was a great cause for concern.

My cousin started to give up hope and she stopped reading. She also asked the doctors to send her home as she was quite homesick and wasn’t receiving any treatment there.  That Easter was not a happy one. We were happy she was home, but she had started gathering fluid in her abdomen and she resembled a very pregnant girl who had lost a lot of weight. Many persons visited her during that time.

Her 16th birthday came and there was no improvement in her condition. My mom asked the doctor if the family could receive permission for her to get treatment overseas; they said it was too late, that she was too weak to fly.

My cousin started making requests to see persons she had not seen in a while. By then she could not retain her meals, but she did not complain much. Sometimes you could see she was in pain and uncomfortable, but she fought like a soldier.

One week my mom told me her classmates visited her and she was happy. That was also the week I had an external examination to sit. My mother had found out that the cancer had spread throughout her body and thought it was in my best interest to not tell me what was happening until after my examination.

The night before the exam, I called another aunt and we made plans to visit the day after my exam. The exam day came and I was quite happy. On my way home while standing at the bus stop at Manor Park, one of Kerene’s friend and neighbour walked up to me and expressed his condolences. I wondered what the heck was he talking about? I told him to not joke about something like that. To convince myself, I rode straight to my aunt’s house just to hear confirmation “from the horse’s mouth”. It was the beginning of my aunt’s Sabbath but I did not care, I needed to know.

Just the look on my aunt’s face confirmed the news I heard. I was devastated. Why was I so devastated? I was devastated because; in all those moments we spent together, not once did I tell her that I loved her and appreciated all the moments we shared. We shared some really crazy times together and I would have liked to express those words. I should have known that there was a possibility that she would die. However, I was so adamant that God would heal her. She was a Christian. She was so young and was such a promise.

As usual with my naïve, optimistic self, I expected the best and not the worst. Now it is too late.  I even had the gall to be upset with my aunt one day when she mentioned that if Kerene died she would probably have a closed casket funeral as Kerene had lost so much weight. “How could she think that” I thought. I was also livid that her mom would be so negative when the girl still had breath, after all what about the statement “once there is life there is hope”?

I was 19 years old when my beloved cousin passed. It turned my world upside down. How could life be so cruel? So many horrible persons live to a ripe old age yet the innocent die young.

Naivety Strikes Again

My community did not have a lot of events that residents would look forward to attending. Yes we had parties and dances, however for those who do not attend dances; church events, wakes (set-ups) and funerals were usually where we socialized.

My maternal grandparents were a part of the many who attended frequent funerals. My grandmother who was thirteen years younger than her husband ensured that they got there early to secure seats.

In October 2005 my grandparents on their way to one such event got caught in the rain. This resulted in my Grandfather catching a cold. Papa as he was affectionately called visited the doctor; however it was realised that the cough was persistent.

On my way home that Friday my mother called behaving quite frantically on the telephone. It was quite unusual to see mommy panicking so I was quite concerned. She said Papa called her and was giving her instructions about donating his clothes and farming the land – which was very unusual.

Papa was not sick for a long time, he was still talking quite strongly, was alert, and he asked to speak to members of his family both locally and overseas. Even after mommy told me her suspicions that he might have developed pneumonia I was quite optimistic as usual that once he got to the hospital he would be okay.

We rode together in the car that day, I went to work, and he went to the hospital. After work I visited him. He had on an oxygen mask. He was trying vehemently to say something to me. As usual instead of taking off the mask to hear what he was saying I said: “Papa, don’t stress yourself in trying to talk. Get some rest and tomorrow I will come and see you”. I touched him, not hugged him nor kissed him, my beloved Papa who would give me his boiled dumplings and chicken, my beloved Papa who had no teeth, my beloved Papa who after graduation when I was going abroad on my quest, gave me the only gift he could; a small Gideon bible which he gave from the heart. Papa was poor financially, a farmer all his life but he was rich in love and he knew God’s word which he read each day without spectacles at the age of 96.

Approximately six (6) hours after returning home we got that dreaded call from the hospital. Papa could not wait until tomorrow to see all he wanted to see including his beloved wife Amanda whose name he uttered during his brief period of admission at the local University Hospital.

I should have let him talk, I should have hugged him, I should have cried, I should have done so many should haves before he died. Now it is too late.

Keep In Touch

I had a friend his name was Mike. He was fun, he had spunk, he made me filled will glee.

Mike was a journalist. Known by many, loved by a lot; especially for his British accent and down to earth persona.

We met when I was working in the banking industry. At that time he was working in radio. We remained friends throughout my years in college and during my time working in the USA we kept in touch as he had returned to England to further his studies.

My friend however got sick and after recovery returned home where he became the Godfather to my son in 2007. One thing I know was that he loved Jamaica very much and as far as he was concerned it would always be his home so no matter where he went he always wanted to return.

One day after watching him read the nightly news I realised that he looked extremely old and stressed. I asked him what was happening with him and I wished him the best with his issues at the time. Shortly afterwards, he had to return to England as he found out that he had gotten sick again.

We kept in touch via email and yahoo messenger mostly. Although I had his number, calling the UK is expensive.  I was receiving positive news about his wife, daughter and his health and was happy. He told me how anxious he was to return to Jamaica for Christmas and I was elated.

One day I heard on the midday news that Mike had passed. I almost fainted. I could not believe it. I actually had to call one of his colleagues at the television station to confirm if what I heard was true.

I then experienced anger. How could he? How could he have gotten worse and not tell me. Did he want to spare me emotional pain? No matter what, I would have hurt as he was my friend. My good friend. I was angry he kept this big secret, now he is DEAD!    My son and I attended the service held in Jamaica where photos of the actual funeral were shown. I was so hurt.

A few years later I had a dream. Mike came though this gate with two white columns with lion sculptures sitting on top.  Wherever he came from was below my line of sight. Oh! I was quite excited to see my friend Mike.

Mike told me that he was sorry I was hurting, that there was nothing he could do, as death came so fast he couldn’t tell me so. I thought, I had no peace as I didn’t say goodbye which made me too emotional and all I could do was cry, but was it fair to blame him as clearly, that October all he spoke about was coming home to Jamaica. Mike was right, he had no choice when his time came he simply had to go and I knew he loved me too as he came and told me so.

That dream brought me closure. I no longer hurt. I had seen my friend and I hope one day I will see him again. My son does not remember his Godfather but my memories of him live within. Like Kerene, like Papa, and many others I have known, Mike was gone but he certainly was not forgotten.

About seven months after writing this article an old schoolmate and friend of mine passed. The situation stirred up so many emotions both pleasant and unpleasant. However, as my friends and I grieved I realised that I actually had no idea how much my friends had meant to me until I had either lost them or we were reconnected. I also realized that once we are placed on this earth and we build relationships with others that we are intricately interconnected and that we will impact the lives of others some way or the other. Whether we are introverts or extroverts, kind or selfish, as humans we all rely on each other for survival, for friendship, for hope, for love.  

So, remember let your loved ones know they are appreciated as life is short and tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Express yourself today, because before you know it tomorrow can quickly slip away. The following poem is dedicated to those I loved and lost. I hope the reader gets the message, take the risk and spread some love today.

IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES POEM

If I knew it would be the last time that I see you walk through the door, I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for more.

If I knew it would be the last time I’d hear your voice lifted up in praise,

I would video tape each action so I could play them back each day.

If I knew it would be the last time, I would spare an extra minute or two to stop and say I love you instead of assuming you would know I do.

If I knew, it would be the last time I would be there to share your day, I wouldn’t say well I’m sure you’ll have many more, so I can just let this one slip away

For surely, there’s always tomorrow to make up for an oversight and we will always get a second chance to make everything right.

There will always be another day to say our I love you’s. And certainly there’s another chance to say “Is there anything I can do?”

But just in case I might be wrong and today is all I get, I’d like to say how much I love you and hope we never forget:

TOMORROW IS NOT PROMISED TO ANYONE

Young and old alike, and today may be the last chance to hold your loved ones tight

So why wait for tomorrow, take action today; for if tomorrow never comes you will surely regret that

you did not take that extra time for a smile, a hug or kiss; or you were too busy to grant someone what turned out to be their last wish.

So hold your loved ones close. Whisper in their ear. Tell them how much you love them and that you hold them dear.

Take time to say I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, or its okay. And if tomorrow never comes you’ll have no regrets about today

Written In 1989 By Norma Marek.

 Dedicated to all my family members and friends that I have lost.

 

Related Readings

Ecclesiastes 3 v 1 :

To everything there is a season,    a time for every purpose under heaven

Genesis 6 v 3 :

The Lord said, “My Spirit will not always strive with man, for he is flesh; yet his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

Psalms 90 v 10

The years of our life are seventy,    and if by reason of strength eighty; yet their

length is toil and sorrow,  for they soon end, and we fly away.

Tomorrow by Tamia