So I know Valentine’s long gone, but still, I feel like passing on the love anyway. Enjoy the story……don’t worry; it’s not sappy. lol
My love story is well, not your usual ‘boy meets girl’ type. Well it’s not boy meets boy either but I guess you’ll see. I’m Zainab and I’m 30 now. I met Frank about 12 years ago. He claims he knew the moment he saw me but I really don’t believe that.
It all started in my first year of college. My parents had managed to scrape money from all the ends of the earth (almost literally) to pay my tuition fees and they had finally succeeded and so I was in school. So you don’t misunderstand, my parents weren’t lazy or poor; I just figured it couldn’t be easy to raise seven kids and still have money left for luxuries. I, on the other hand, wanted so many more things for myself than just the necessities so I tried my hand at anything that sounded like it could get me money; that translates to being a professional passer-by on all movie sets I could find.
It was during this job scouting process I came across the infomercial inviting people to get checked in order to see if one of their kidneys could be donated. Now, it wasn’t the good Samaritan act that caught my attention but the $2000 compensation to be paid by the desperate family. It took me all of 5 minutes to convince myself that I wasn’t feeding off someone else’s despair. I actually prayed that my kidney would be a match for the boy who needed it before going to bed that night. Desperate much?
I finally found the time and the courage to go to the hospital without telling my parents. On getting there, I informed the nurse of my intention and a couple of tests were run on me. Blood drawn and the entire nine yards. An hour later, the doctor came up to me beaming like a Bright tuesday morning. My kidney was the perfect match! I literally saw dollar signs floating around the room at that moment. The doctor then led me to meet the boy and his family. There he was, Frank, lying with a big smile on his face. He was ever so chatty, it was hard to tell he was the one who desperately needed a kidney transplant. I remember how friendly his family was, his mum even teased me about my short nails; it felt good to feel appreciated, so good I forgot about the compensation for a second.
A week later, the operation was ready to be carried out. My parents were still oblivious, I didn’t want anyone to talk me out of my brilliant plan. Frank came up to me in his wheelchair while the doctors were preparing for the surgery. He was as calm and happy as ever. I, on the other hand was sweating in places I didn’t even know existed! I remember how he made me laugh by imitating how my parents would react if they found out I donated my kidney without telling them anything about it. He made me laugh so hard; I totally forgot how nervous I had been. I didn’t know at that point that he’d make me laugh that way forever.
We went through almost eight hours of surgery and I had a recovery time of one week; his was a bit longer but I had never been as relieved as I was when I heard the doctor say the surgery was successful.
Frank lived in Texas and I was all the way in Florida so after the surgery and the compensation was paid, I didn’t expect to ever see him again. But the next semester, there he was in my arts class. He had transferred to my college; of all the ones in the United States, he came to mine.
We became really good friends eventually; he would always have an opinion and somehow that intrigued me. It was during of one those days that he suddenly stopped talking and looked me straight in the eye and said ‘ All my life, no one has ever made me look forward to tomorrow as much as you have or appreciate today as much and you may never understand how, Zay, but I promise to show you one day how you’ve changed my life just by being in it’ and he asked me to be his girlfriend; in the sweetest way possible, with a flower he’d picked from a rose bush. It wasn’t perfect but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
With Frank, it was always fun. Always ‘ Zay; let’s climb that mountain or Zay, let’s lie in the middle of the road’. He made sure to enjoy every second he had, and he made sure to do it with me. I loved him for that. My parents were crazy about him. My mum personally couldn’t get over the fact that he could cook, she would always say in her Nigerian accent ‘ Frank, please take this girl and knock some culinary skills into her brains’.
He graduated college before me and when I finally did, it felt like the world was ours; he took a job at a classy firm in Dallas and I opened my little art studio. It was one day out of the perfection that was our lives that he proposed. I was at his apartment and he insisted we watch a particular movie, it was a bit odd since he usually let me pick the movies but I didn’t pay any attention. We had been together for about four years then. Halfway through the movie, he got up, he’d been a little jitsy through it but I didn’t want to pause the movie to ask if he was ok (selfish? maybe a little). Suddenly, the screen went totally blank and lights in the room went off. A second later, the lights came back on but the tv wasn’t playing the movie anymore, it was a recording of Frank’s voice. I was somewhere in between scared and confused and I started to listen to the playback, at the same time he appeared looking oh so dapper in his suit (yes, in the house lol). It was then I realised what was happening ; I must have shut out the playback from the TV or maybe he paused it but the only thing I could see, hear, feel, sense, imagine was Frank kneeling in front of me. Then he said and I’ll never forget ‘ If I have to lose function in both kidneys and lay in a bed for a month and pay and five hundred dollars and have needles pushed through every inch of me to find the love I’ve found in you; I’ll do it a million times over just so I laugh at your bad cooking and watch you smile. Zainab Mallory Malik, I love and will always love you. Will you marry me?’ I must have said yes ten times in two seconds. It was everything I had ever dreamed of and then some. My mum screamed louder than I did when she heard; it was her nature so that wasn’t surprising. His family thought it was a long time coming, to them I had been his wife from the start. I’d never been more in love.
Two weeks to our wedding, we were driving and laughing in the snow and I was making a video for instagram with the ipad while Frank drove. Suddenly; this trailer swerved off its lane and into ours, everything went blank.
I got out with a few cuts, Zay had a collision with the ipad she was holding and the windscreen as well; her body was halfway in the car and halfway out. We were both taken to the hospital. When I came to, no one wanted to tell me how Zay was doing or if she made it at all. I had never been so scared in my life. I cried for the first time since I could remember.
Days later, I was finally allowed to see her; she was in a coma and wasn’t responding to the drugs she was taking. I remember how she just lay there and all I could do was pray and hope and beg with my heart that she would come back to me.
Days turned to weeks and weeks to months. Money was accumulating on the life support machine. Everyone was gradually losing hope that she would ever wake up. My head told me to pull away to realise that it was hopeless but my heart held on for dear life. How could the person that had given me life and sustained it be taken away from me and I could do absolutely nothing about it? How could God have loved me enough to send her to save me but not use me to save her? How could I live and move knowing that I would never see that smile again? I had been telling my mum to only postpone the wedding and not call it off for months and she must have been getting tired of answering people’s questions when they asked about a specific date. I had come to sit by Zay everyday since the accident hoping that somehow our love would be strong enough to bring her back.
Finally; the doctors came, after about 5 months of life support with the form for me to sign so they could take her off the machine. My hand shook at the very sight of the pen; I couldn’t even bring myself to hold it. The doctors decided to let me say my goodbyes. I couldn’t think of what to say to the person I’d thought I would sit in rocking chairs with in old age and take long walks with just for the sake of them. I couldn’t say goodbye to Zay. Then I remembered the promise I made to her the day I asked her to be my girlfriend; years back in college and how she smiled that perfect smile and with tears I said ‘ All my life, no one has ever made me look forward to tomorrow as much as you have or appreciate today as much and you may never understand how, Zay, but I promise to show you one day how you’ve changed my life just by being in it. Zay, please, allow me to keep my promise to you, wake up so I can love you and protect you like you deserve’. I was crying like crazy so I decided it was over. I kissed her cold, dark lips for the last time and made towards the door.
Then I heard it; I heard a cough, I thought I might have been imagining something so I took a step back and she coughed again! I gave Usain Bolt a run for his money when I flew down the halls to announce to the doctors that Zay coughed. They taught I was only saying it to make sure the machine was left on longer but indeed, after almost 6 months, she had awoken from the coma. My eyes filled with tears. She heard me and came back to me.
After she woke up from the coma; she recovered quickly and perfectly and in a week she was itching to go home. She was finally discharged and I carried her all the way to the car.
Every now and again, I look at her and thank God that he let me save her just as she saved me. He led me to my perfect half. Zay and I have a son now, we are expecting another baby in July. Zay says it’s a girl; she doesn’t know I could make a last minute change to that too *wink*