It was supposed to be my first marriage, and I had never been that thrilled to lose my freedom. That week, I woke up with a smile and went to sleep with a laugh. My dreams were different, and the universe was definitely on my side, even a blind man could see it. 14th of February, 1995 was supposed to be the day my life would change forever. Well, it did change but not in the way you'd expect. Her name was Vivian, and I loved her with every fibre of my being.

We had been together for a while, and like most happy and worthwhile relationships, I started from the friend zone. Everything about our love was uncanny and pure. We met at her uncle's birthday celebration, I was a 21-year old and had taken up a job as a caterer so I could earn some money for business school. It was clear that we were from different worlds, her father was a billionaire hedge fund manager in upstate New York and my father, and well he was a Nigerian immigrant who had died in an accident while sweeping the floors of a factory. Maybe that's what attracted us to each other, the fact that we had different lives. I had nothing, and she had everything. I knew guys like me don't usually get girls like her time, I wanted to feel loved and she unquestionably defined love.

 It was a love tale as old as time, her parents didn't approve of our friendship, and they consequently objected to our relationship. "You can't be with that man," her father told her every other day. She was warned to stay away from the "Nigga", and I was threatened to only date someone from my income class and race. "What has the money or skin colour got to do with love?" she always asked me on our picnics. Even though I was consumed with love, I knew her parents were somewhat right, a beautiful lady like Vivian deserved a man that could take care of her and I wasn't that man, not by a long shot, at least not yet.

I remember the day I lost her like it was yesterday. The events leading up to her demise started on her 25th birthday, 11th July 1994. I had saved up some money from my menial jobs and I wanted to show her a good time. It wasn't enough to travel halfway around the world but I could afford to rent a small boat. As usual, she had to sneak out of their estate, but her father had noticed the late nights and frequent letters, and so he knew we were still together. I wasn't scared of some white guy with money, I was a black student in a predominantly racist society, I had faced worse. What I was afraid of was getting Vivian in any trouble, though she was daring, her father still had some control over her. Being a control freak, he ordered her for the umpteenth never to see me again or...well, I can't remember the other thing he said because it didn't matter, nothing was going to stop us from being together. Upset by his obsession with control, Vee said to me "Wole, I want to have your baby, I want us to have a child. Surely, he can't hate his own grandchild".

I couldn't say no to her. I mean, I wanted to, as a Christian and as a concerned boyfriend. I knew she wanted the best for us but getting pregnant out of wedlock and by a black man was one of the worst things that could happen to her and me. I always wanted to be with Vee, underneath my fear for my safety, I wanted to be with her, as a family. It wasn't our first time or last time but that was the one that counted. We felt everything, from the first touch to the last thrust, we knew it was meant to be. I didn't have the means to take care of a baby, but she convinced me that we'd figure it out, like everything else.

Two weeks after her birthday, she confirmed she was pregnant. Everything started to get real, we decided to tell her parents together, and as expected, her parents were distraught. What we didn't expect however were the words that came out of her father's mouth "You're going to have to kill that abomination". At first, I thought he was just upset, I felt that if he had his mind settled, he'd come to realise that every child is a blessing. On the other hand, I wasn't going to let another human dictate what I would do with my child. So, I fought back and we had our first standoff. My bravery made Vee proud, she said nobody had ever stood up for her the way I did, she called me her hero and I knew I couldn't back down now. I may have acted tough on the outside but inside, I knew this wasn't going to end peacefully. 

He was as stubborn as he was mischievous and being an influential figure, I was arrested and to be tried for kidnap and rape. The case would never make it to trial, being accused alone would be my end. I was ready to die for Vee, I knew I'd never survive 3 days once the charges were made public. I loved her so much I couldn't imagine a future without her. Stuck with the decision of abortion or my death, Vivian agreed to do the abortion on the condition that I will be set free. But she wasn't planning on destroying the one thing we shared together, and so we eloped after my release. With no plan, no connections and not enough money, we moved to Nigeria and decided to have our baby here. Everything was finally okay, I thought.

But I was wrong, getting Vee pregnant was the beginning of the darkest period of my life. A week to Valentine’s Day, Vivian started complaining of abdominal pains, but she ruled it as normal. We had planned to get married on the 14th of February, it only seemed befitting for our kind of love. I had managed to get a good job with my economics degree, turns out Nigeria treated foreign attained degrees like gold. On the morning of our wedding day, Vivian, in her white dress looking like a Queen that she was, said the pain was increasing and we'd need to see a doctor after the wedding. The ceremony was amazing, surrounded by our friends and well-wishers, it was better than what I always dreamed it would be, I had found my definition of joy. We went over to the hospital at about 4 pm that day and then it happened. After preliminary tests by the doctor, it appeared that things were more serious than we thought.

My wife had developed complications, and the baby needed to be delivered prematurely, in less than 8 hours, or we would lose it. I couldn't take it all in, everything was happening so fast. From a beautiful wedding to a life-threatening operation? This was supposed to be the day that the Lord had made, why was this happening? For 6 years, I had dreamt about raising a family with Vivian, and now that I eventually get the chance, this happens?

There was no time to think, and so I asked the doctor to go ahead with the caesarean section. My wife couldn't stop crying, and till today I don't know which was more painful, the abdominal pains or our misfortune. By 6 pm, they had proceeded to the surgery room. I spent the whole time praying and promising God a lot of things, I only needed my wife out and healthy. Three long hours after, the exhausted doctor comes out, and before he says anything, I asked: "Doctor, how is my family?” It would've felt good to say those words, but that day it felt horrible to ask, considering the circumstances. "I have good news and bad news, sir," the doctor said. My heart dropped.

"We were able to save your daughter but your wife, but ... we lost your wife, sir". The doctor said. I couldn't breathe for about 10 seconds, my vision went cloudy, I started sweating so much, my head was light and my feet couldn't keep me up, I passed out. I woke a few moments later hoping it was some bad dream, praying that my love was alive and smiling at our baby. I needed more time, she was the reason I woke up every day. I had loved her since the first day I set my eyes on her, I wasn't ready to let her go. We had been through so much, we were supposed to have the rest of our lives to figure this world out. My wife died on our wedding day, the same day our daughter was born. She didn't even get to see our daughter. I had already been through too much, everything was wrong. I didn't even get to say goodbye, I never get to say goodbye. "Why would God do this to us? We didn't deserve this". I asked.

The next two months took a downturn in my life, I had lost everything and I never really got over the guilt of Vee's death. My Vivian would be alive if I hadn't gotten her pregnant. Vee's death broke my spirit, undoubtedly. Life as I knew it was over. I couldn't look at the baby during the two months she spent in the incubator. I missed work often, and I knew my life had changed forever. I was only 27 and already a widower, with a newborn. What else could life do to me? I eventually picked up my daughter on the due date, and even though the love was beginning to come back, nothing could replace the emptiness my Vivian left. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to name my daughter Moradeke, which means "I have found the crown to pamper". She is the spitting image of my Vivian.

Till this day, I write a letter to her every valentine's day. I'll always love my Vee and if I were to do life again, I'd choose her, no matter the consequences. Though short-lived, she made me know what love is, she made me feel what love is. What my relationship with Vee taught me is that we never really have time and if you have someone you truly love, let them know today.

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    1. Wow!!!.... This is a very beautiful story. Well written and very unique. Thank you so much for this beautiful piece.

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