As we settled down waiting for the devotion to start, a woman walked up to us, pointing at Ziim she said; what is her name so that I can join you in praying for her? I smiled, what do you want to pray for her for? She looked back with surprise. I knew she meant well, so I said, Chizimuzondu. But I know what she may be praying for is not that which I have come to pray for. Next, came another woman; are you a Nwosuh? Yes. She introduced herself. Then she went ahead to give me her testimony, how her daughter was completely healed from injuries sustained in an accident. So I should not loose hope. I was too happy to be upset, she meant well. I already received a miracle.
The first time I came here was 2008, Ziim was 2 years. I was still “mourning”. Yes, one of the periods most parents (if not all) of children with disabilities go through is the mourning period. You mourn the loss of a baby that would have been. I was filled with grief. So this day, I remember, it was a Saturday; I wanted to go somewhere, like going on a pilgrimage. Since I could not afford to visit the holy land in Jerusalem, Maryland, here in Lagos would do. The Mariam shrine is serenely situated there and it’s a perfect place for one to go and pray, more like pour out one’s heart. I wanted needed a miracle; my daughter should be healed of this strange condition called Cerebral Palsy. After breakfast, I packed lunch for Ziim and we went to the Mariam shrine.
The atmosphere was very serene; people walked in, said their prayers quietly and left. Some came in small groups, still as quietly as they could, mindful of other “pilgrims”, said their prayers. I am not sure I was doing much of praying though, I remember I would clutch onto Ziim and sob myself to tiredness. This became a weekly habit. I would wake up early every Saturday, feed her, pack her lunch and race to the shrine. One day, I think it was on our 3rd visit or so, shortly after we settled down, I noticed an unusual large number of people, chairs were being arranged, a sign that an event was going to take place. In a short while, the place was filled up. I recognized some faces from my parish St. Dominic’s. I was not happy with this invasion to my quiet time. Curiously, I approached a lady and ask what was happening here today. With this look of “are you the only stranger in Galilee” she said, “today is first Saturday of the month ke, it’s a day with Mary”. This was how we joined the monthly devotion tagged A Day with Mary. Every first Saturday of the month, I would along with Ziim join the devotion.
As Ziim grew older, her disabilities became more visible thus making not just my “problem” everybody’s business, but me a receiver of unsolicited advice. Ha, madam, just place her at the foot of the alter, ha aunti remember to raise her up when the priest lifts up the host, my sister, you made a good decision by bringing her here, if you hear testimonies from here, make sure the holy water touches her, blab bla bla and more bla. I took all that with suppressed anger. They meant well, but it did not stop me from getting angry.
With time, I realized that I enjoy the Stations of the Cross more, so I would attend early morning mass in St. Anthony’s before going to the shrine, thus after the rosary and Station’s of the Cross I left. Aunty, you are not staying for mass? Yes. Why now? Na now miracles go happen, when father preach, he go prophesy, you no go wait collect holy water? Blab, bla, la again. No comment, the intentions were good.
The year 2008 gave way to 2009. I am not sure if it was my imagination, but I started getting the message of “repent of your sins so that your child will be healed”. It started with a “bold” sister walking up to me as I sat quietly with Ziim sitting on her chair. By this time I used to carry her CP chair along with us as she was becoming heavy such that I could not carry her for the whole length of devotion. This of course made her more obvious, if you like more “out sanding”, as a CP chair is not what you see every day. So this lady came to me, sister, confessions are going on o. I know. You no wan go? I stare at her blankly. On another occasion, a man came to us, after we exchanged pleasantries, he wanted to know about the condition my baby has. As much as I could, explained CP to him, how it has defied medical cure. Ha, sisiter, every sickness gets healed here, I have seen many, I saw a man who was almost dead get healed before my eyes. He went on, but you know, we have to help ourselves. How?? So many things stop miracles from happening, like sin. He quoted Isaiah 59: 1..Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save nor His ears too dull to hear…… I was rooted to the ground. My mouth opened but no word came out. I wanted to ask him what sins Ziim committed for she it is who needs healing. The devotion started.
By the end of the year 2009, I knew I had received a miracle.
In the year 2010, I started the CpCenter. I started also to look at other therapies apart from the conventional physiotherapy that are used to manage CP. By 2011 started travelling often to explore some of these therapies as they are offered only abroad. We started visiting the shrine less often. By 2011, we were not visiting the shrine. Three years went by, without our going for the devotion.
Saturday the 7th of June was my birthday, 10th will be Ziim’s. We both have come a long way. The road has been difficult. But standing from where we are, it calls for a thanksgiving. I said that I enjoyed more the Stations of the Cross; actually, it should be that the circumstances of my life made me appreciate that more. The format used for the devotion is slightly different from the traditional one used in the churches. In this format, our mother Mary speaks. So we are made to “hear” her feelings as a mother at every station, in spite of how much she wished for her son not to go through the pains and agony He was going through, always, she knew that the will of God had to be done for there is a purpose and she followed. It helped me to begin to ask and look for a purpose for Zimuzo in my life. Was I looking for the wrong miracle??
By the end of 2009, I knew I had received a miracle! That was when I decided to shut down Delicate’ the restaurant business I was operating then and start CpCenter. In 2010, CpCenter came to be. The satisfaction and inner peace I get from running the center seem to assure me that I have found the purpose for Ziim in my life. Added to this is that which I have come to become. Ziim has made me to see life differently, to appreciate things that I otherwise would have not. Could this be the purpose? Could it be me who needed healing??
It was in thanksgiving to God that we went to the Mariam shrine on Saturday; it was the perfect place to be, to spend a day with Mary, the woman through whom our Lord was born. I have stopped asking and looking for a cure for Ziim. All I do daily is to ask for strength and courage to do the things that I need to do to improve the quality of her life along with other children that come to the center. I have received a miracle what of you?