How I lost five siblings to sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease is not a joke. Whenever I see people who have the AS genotype asking if they can marry their partners with AS genotype, I shake my head. I pity them.
This health issue destroyed my family. My parents were always fighting and blaming each other because of the stress they were going through going in and out of hospitals because of my siblings with SS genotype.
I lost five of my siblings to sickle cell disease. It’s not funny. As the first child, I was privy to the sufferings and pains my siblings encountered before they died.
It broke my heart every time that I couldn’t do anything to help make them feel better. At that time, I didn’t understand why they were dying until I heard that they had sickle cell anemia.
Yesterday was a terrible day for me. It was supposed to be my late brother’s 29th birthday. I was sad all through yesterday. I cried so much that I physically became sick.
Since the early hours of this morning, thoughts of my late brother Okwudili filled my heart.
I have cried myself to sleep twice today and I am crying again. He would have been 29 today.
But he left this world after suffering so much pain from sickle cell disease.
Watching his hands and feet swell almost all the time broke my heart.
Whenever he was in pain, I would start massaging his hands and feet hoping it would help him feel better.
I was his favorite sibling. We bonded well. I loved arranging his clothes because he was meticulous like me.
He would pair his shirts and shorts and insist he wants to wear them in that particular order.
He lived a short life but I felt relief when he left this world because he needed rest.
Okwy nwannem, I miss you. I am imagining my life with you. If you were alive, I knew we would be having a blast.
Maybe this pain I am still feeling is because mom burnt your pictures.
Or maybe because I wasn’t allowed to see you one last time before you were buried.
I was in church praying for you to get better. I was looking forward to holding your tiny hands again.
My happiness was cut short when I got home and met dad lying on the floor sobbing and mummy crying inside while people were consoling her.
My questions fell on deaf ears. I looked through the whole house searching for you.
Mum calmly told me that you had left. She said you were no longer in pains. She beckoned on me to stop looking for you.
I screamed and held her. We started crying together. You were the fifth child she lost. You died six months after Ebuka died.
I felt for her. I didn’t know what to tell her. Watching her children die one after the other was devastating but mum is a strong woman.
Life was never the same for our family. You will know this brother because you are looking down at us.
But we are good today. We are taking it one day at a time. The five of us remaining are fine. Life has been fair to us.
I miss you. Okwudili nwannem, continue to rest in peace. I won’t forget your face, your thick eye brows that I comb after bathing you, your smile and how you wear your shorts.
Continue to rest brother of mine. Sister still loves you. Sickle cell disease will no longer hurt you or make you writhe in pains for days.
And to my other four siblings who left this world before we had the time to fight, play, make up and explore the world, rest in peace too umunnem.