Written by Sheryl Reid
It’s crazy how things happen…July 29, 2009…I am a friend who seldom forgets birthdays. Sending a personalized song to my friends has become my trademark gift of sorts. This year, however, I was busy preparing for a business trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a personal trip to Atlanta, Georgia, and unbeknownst to me, to be a support to a friend like no other time in my life. In the midst of all that, I had forgotten to wish my former college roommate, Niyat Tewelde Mogos Sebhatu, a happy birthday. Niyat, a very vocal friend, didn’t let me off the hook easy in the days following, she sent me a text message that in essence said, “Hey girl, did you forget something?” At that moment, my memory rushed to remind me; I had forgotten her birthday. I tried to make it up by telling her right then, but I knew it wasn’t the same. So when my birthday came around a few days later of course I heard from Niyat. That was the last time we communicated. We have an awesome friendship and although we don’t talk every day, we could pick up right where we left off, whether it has been a day or two, a few weeks, or a couple of months. Toward the end of August, I received text messages from friends from our undergrad days at Kentucky State University that said things like: “Did you hear about Niyat?” “Have you heard an update on Niyat?” Of course my response was, “Heard what?” “Update on what?” So many emotions went through me. So many thoughts crossed my mind in an instant. I had no way to know what was happening, so I began an investigation of sorts to find out what in the world was going on. In this day and age, it’s common to discover a plethora of things on the widely used social networking site, Facebook. I knew which pages to check. First, I checked Niyat’s page–no updates; and then I checked her sister’s pages–no updates. Then I checked her cousin Bethel’s page. That’s when I read:
AUGUST 27 AT 7:39AM …today is the day. Please keep sending up your prayers for Niyat!!! That’s when I decided to backtrack and see if I could find out any details on Bethel’s status updates. The previous night, this was the posting:
AUGUST 26 AT 10:07PM …as everyone goes to bed please say a prayer for my sister Niyat as she will go through surgery tomorrow. Life is too short and to my true friends I mean this from the bottom of my heart, I love you and I’ll do anything for you! At this point, I began to check Bethel’s page for any sort of update on a very consistent basis. I sent a text to Bethel and one to a college friend, Alicia, and found out that Niyat had a tumor on her brain and it had to be removed. At that moment, it became real to me. At twenty-seven years old, Niyat was about to undergo brain surgery. So being the ride-or-die friend that I am, I decided that I was going to cancel any school visits, take off from work, and drive 188 miles to Columbus, Ohio, only to find out I wouldn’t be able to see Niyat as the hospital had a “family only” policy.
AUGUST 27 AT 1:37PM …WE HAVE A SUCCESSFUL SURGERY!!! Now we must all take help in her road to recovery! God is good y’all, you cant say He isn’t!!!
AUGUST 27 AT 9:34PM …there was mix communication earlier in the day. Niyat is still having surgery and will not be done ’til 12:30…but the nurse said she is doing fine!
AUGUST 27 AT 12:33PM ..OK FINALLY SHE IS OUT! Vitals are good and 80- 90% of the tumor is out!!! Now, the very least I could do, was call the hospital and speak to her parents. I had to say I was her cousin to even get through to the waiting room where they were. Over the years I have spent time with Niyat’s family, so they knew me as her friend, and adopted me into their rich Eritrean culture. With all that had taken place, I was eager to go to Columbus, but when I spoke to Niyat’s Dad, he told me to just wait until I could actually see her in about two weeks, so I did. On Friday, September 11, 2009, I called the hospital expecting to talk to either of her parents, Auntie Ellen, or Uncle Tewelde. To my surprise, I spoke to Niyat. I asked her if she wanted me to come up there, and in a faint voice, she said, “Yes.” That day, Friday, September 11, 2009, was the day that I decided to do something that I would want a friend to do with/for me. I decided to cut off my hair. Of course along with brain surgery comes the shaving of one’s head. So I walked into the salon for what my stylist thought was a regular appointment. I sat down in the chair, and my stylist MaChon asked, “What are we doing today?” I replied, “I want to cut it. For my friend.” I had already told her the two preceding Friday’s about Niyat and her surgery, but when I heard Niyat’s voice that day, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. That day is one that I will never forget. I have no regrets and am happy to report that Niyat was released from the hospital on October 7, 2009, and is doing physical, speech, and occupational therapy to regain her full strength! When I spoke with her on November 5, she was out shopping with Bethel. I hope that my story inspires someone who reads it. Count your blessings, don’t take friends for granted. Live.Laugh.Love~Sheryl