It was a sunny afternoon when Grace walked into the small office I shared with a friend. She had called two days earlier to inform me of her visit. I had never met her, she claimed she got my contact from one of my books and needed to talk to me on an urgent issue.
Her appearance looked funny. She had a pair of thick brown trousers, a black long sleeves cardigan with the hood covering her head to most parts of her face. she had on a pair of dark large glasses. She was obviously hiding something.
Quickly she reintroduced herself with a very sad tone as I motioned her to take a seat. As she did, a terrible stench enveloped the room. I paused for a moment trying to figure out the sudden change in the air. I assured myself that it would go away so I ignored it.
“Would you like something to drink?” I said struggling to smile through the smell that had become very uncomfortable.
“Yes. Water will be fine.” She didn’t look happy and I was not surprised. Most of the people who come for counseling are usually that sad until we are done talking. I was not also bothered about her glasses as I assumed she may also have been crying from whatever the issue could be.
I gave her a glass of water and used the opportunity to open the windows and pulled away the blinds for some fresh air. I paused at the window pretending to be looking at something of interest. My nose needed the air. I heard her emptied the glass in one gulp.
“Do you want more water?” I said without turning to look at her.
“I know of how terrible I smell and that is why I am here…to end it all! Today, I plan to die and I came to tell you.” Her speech was fast. I turned around slowly, surprised and confused. I fixed my gazed on the dark glasses hoping to be able to see through into her eyes. Did she say die? Could her problem be bigger than mine? I was the one who shouldn’t be living.
I was living BROKE. I was job hunting and trying out anything that could legally fetch me money. The only thing I relied on was counseling and it was voluntary. I couldn’t even feed let alone afford other necessities. Around this time my younger sister whose school fees I was struggling to pay was killed by a strayed bullet. Everything did not seem to be working well with me. The only thing I was conscious of was the opportunity to counsel. Yet I did not kill myself. So why should she!
“You do not need my permission to kill yourself,” I chuckled. “I do not even know you…die if you want!” I said as I sat sucking the stench I was no longer conscious of. I sat back waiting for her to respond but she said nothing. How hard could her life have been? Harder than mine? I queried within me.
Then she took off the glasses and pulled back the hood almost at the same time. “Jesus!” I screamed as I stood and motioned towards the door then stopped. I was frightened out of my skin. My heart beat increased and goose bumps grew all over my body. I could not take my eyes off her. This cannot possibly be a human! I was SCARED!
One of her eyes was gone and the spot was very deep into the socket. Half of her head was dented giving it a triangular shape, the ear on that part of the head was also gone. Part of the neck skin was grafted to her left jaw preventing her to look behind without turning her who body. Who or what is this? I couldn’t query to her hearing.
Tears rolled down the one eye. “I really want to die…and I want it today. I can’t go on anymore.” I sat back without taking my eyes off the ‘horrible figure’. I didn’t know what to say to her. It was to be my first time counseling someone contemplating suicide. “God, what do I say to her?” I expected God for any answer. Fright and confusion did not let me know if God answered that prayer.
“You came here to talk about it, so let’s talk.” I calmed, receptive and interested in whatever she was going to say.
“It was a kerosene explosion, I do not know why or how I survived. I wish I didn’t. I can no longer use my right hand. My right thigh is not healing. I still need more corrective surgeries but my aunt says she can no longer afford it. She has asked me to move out of the house since I have become a ‘liability’to her. My fiance called off our engagement when this happened. He doesn’t even talk to me anymore. Life is no longer worth living.” She was no longer crying. Her story was like a rehearsed script and I would have doubted her if not because she showed me pictures of her and her fiance. She was really pretty. Then pictures while in the hospital after the explosion and those of her family when she was much younger.
I did not know when tears welled up in my eyes and I allowed them flowed freely. This was also my first time crying with someone I counseled.
Here I was getting all so selfish and worked up about how big my problems were but here was someone whose problems I would never wish to be in their situation. Quickly, I forgot about mine! I focused on how Grace can be better instead of killing herself. Mine was like a pebble, hers was a rock!
It took months of counseling, follow-up, praying and encouraging and in doing so Grace helped me draw strength from within me I never knew existed. As she made the determination to live, she made me understand, how easy we can handle challenges if we do not allow them overwhelm us or concentrate on them.
Today after 14 corrective surgeries, Grace is prettier than ever! Married with 2 children and reaching out to depressed people.
Do not allow THAT situation get the BEST of YOU!
*Grace is not her real name, just a name we called her during the struggle. Thank you Grace for letting me share this!