Taking the decision she had had seemed like a good idea at the time but coming home to hear her uncle had been rushed to the hospital brought back pain and panic. There was so much she wanted to make right by her uncle.
“God, please not again, please don’t take him away. “Please don’t” was all she kept mumbling as she got into the car. “Give me the chance to make things right”, she prayed as she drove down the Deerfoot Trail.
September rain poured down heavily, hitting against the car and almost blinding her. Speeding, she headed towards the Peter Lougheed hospital. It was midnight when she finally saw the hospital. Turning into the hospital lot, she found a parking spot on the east side entrance and made her way up to emergency.
The ride up the elevator had been agonizing. For her, the grand machine seemed to be moving slow although it worked at a good pace. Finally, she made it into the unit and approached the nurse at the front desk.
Hi, can you please tell me where to find Edward Sheppard? I’m…I’m his daughter
He is still in sur… in the midst of the nurse’s response, she heard her name.
Akua, is that you? The only woman other than her dead mum who called her by her African name.
She turned round to find Melina standing there, looking pale and weary even though she tried to put up a brave face.
Aunt Esi, she said, giving her aunt a tight hug. How is he? What happened? Is he going to be alright?
He’s still in there she said nodding towards the surgery door. Doctor Owen is operating on him.
Come on, come sit. When did you get in? What are you doing back here? We weren’t expecting you until month ending?
I got in about an hour ago. I came the moment I heard. Just then Doctor Owen came in, his expression not an encouraging one.
Melina… Anna…, I’m very sorry…. Dr. Owen said with a solemn look on his face.
NO! NO! NO! Agya ei, m3 wu o Aunt Melina wailed aloud, wrapping her hands around her, telling of the loneliness she was about to live, not caring about the attention she was drawing to herself.
Emotions running high, she suddenly felt a sharp tingle to her right arm and begun losing consciousness. She could hear her name being called out but she was slipping away real fast.
Five hours had gone by when she finally woke up in a hospital bed, Anna by her side and doctor Owen checking her vitals.
Welcome back, he said to her. You gave us quite a scare there.
You had a mild stroke but you’re going to be okay, Anna said.
Try having some rest, doc. Owen said. It’s been an eventful night and I don’t want you having another episode. I will be in to check on you in the morning.
Thanks doctor Owen, Anna said.
The agony of hearing about her uncles’ demise had been too painful to bear but she knew she had to be strong for aunt Melina.
Occasionally, she sat in the dark listening to voice messages that had been left by her uncle “Anna, can you call the house when you get this message? Sometimes the voice had been solemn, other times, it sounded desperate. She’d picked up the phone to call several times but had always stopped mid-way afraid to find out what he wanted. Other times, her stubbornness and head strong behaviour would not allow her to. Their not talking had become so normal, she hadn’t realized it had been so long since the last time she had spoken to him.
Time was definitely not a friend of hers—it had a funny way of taking things (those she cared about) away from her.
Two days later, aunt Melina was discharged from the hospital and arrangements were made for Uncle Edward’s burial—a small ceremony with family, and friends. He was buried alongside his brother Eric Sheppard.
Waking up at dawn, she decided to get some packing done in the stone mansion. It had been two months since uncle Edward sadly passed away and much needed to be done about the running of the day to day affairs both at home and in the office.
Dragging herself out of bed lackadaisically, she headed for Uncle Edward’s room to begin parking. Slowly and steadily, she made her way through the things shoving things into boxes one brown box at a time, not caring to separate suits from shirts, dress shoes from casual shoes. She was very particular about separating things before packing them but this time was different as anger boiled through her. How could he just leave without waiting for her? After hours of packing and crying, she needed to sit down and catch her breath. She felt like the walls of the room were closing in on her.
The big portrait he’d done when she moved in hanged on the side of the wall. There was too much pain, memories she would never know except those she had created for herself—she had let time pass by too fast, like gusty winds sweeping through the meadows.
Afraid of getting close to anyone, enjoying life and experiencing it like any normal child will do, she’d focused on dance; never wanting to experience pain and heartache.
She had grown up too quickly—an aftermath of events she could not have controlled. Now her uncle was gone; just like her mom, just like Linda and her husband Eric.
After months of mopping around the house and aunt Melina moving to Ghana, she had decided to start parking some of his stuff away. But, it was harder than she thought it would have been.
She made her way downstairs to get some breakfast but found herself in the study room, sitting on the black sofa overlooking the backyard. Looking round the room, eyes landing on a small framed picture of herself, Uncle Edward and Aunt Melina at her first Christmas banquet at the dance studio, her thoughts drifted back in time.
She remembered the day she came into the Sheppard home—an era where dark and light did not mix. The thought of it making her eyes swell up and her chest turn heavy. It was as if the air she breathed had escaped her lungs. She remembered it like yesterday, the vision so vivid in her memory.
Melina Sheppard had received her like her own after the death of her adoptive parents Linda and Eric Sheppard while Edward on the other hand had seemed reserved and distant. She’d tried to ease the tension in the atmosphere by leaning in for a hug but he’d just pushed her aside, looked at his wife and walked off.
He doesn’t really like me that much does he?
Does he blame me for their deaths?
With an expressionless face, Melina said, give him time. he’s grieving and doesn’t know how to express himself. Time had turned into months, months into years. Finally, when he’d seemed ready, she was too far gone in her fairy tale life to care.
Eric on the other hand had been a big contrast from his brother.
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