Troy & Kenisha believe in Forever I Do
For better or for worse. Those vows may sound simple in the scheme of life but when challenges arise that seem insurmountable, how do you keep going? How do you hold the family together? In Troy and Kenisha Brathwaite’s case, communication and a deeply rooted love for each other were their answer.
March 18 2016 will mark ten years of marriage for the couple but their courtship began almost five years earlier.
It started when Troy, then 20, caught a glimpse of, and was impressed by, the slim and timid 17-year-old Kenisha Payne walking through their Ivy, St Michael neighbourhood. Admittedly nervous, Troy recounted that at first he wasn’t sure how to approach Kenisha or for that matter, if she would be interested in what she saw when he did.
As fate would have it she was intrigued.
The pair hit it off so well that their friendship continued for several years before they won the Nation Publishing company’s annual Forever I Do contest in 2005. Months later the two jumped the broom at the United Pentecostal Assemblies of God Tabernacle in Bridge Gap, Goodland.
Reminiscing about their special day and laughing loudly, Kenisha recalled Troy being overjoyed and sweating while she was really excited.
“I was so fussy. I was telling my step-father, ‘Hurry up, hurry-up, let we get down there [the aisle]’ and he was pulling me back telling me I walking too fast,” Kenisha said with a smile.
A decade later, the couple has added two little ones to their bunch. Takara, born in 2013, and Ketroya, who turns two in November. They have had many good periods, but also their fair share of obstacles. So much so that both said they never expected the union to last so long.
“A lot of people said we were too young to make that commitment,” said Kenisha. Her husband added: “I believe if it was up to people we won’t be together but when you know, you know.”
Troy explained that he and Kenisha “almost broke up because of people”.
“I was in Canada (’cause I went looking for better for us) and she was here because she didn’t want to go and it was hard. First people used to torment her because we didn’t have any children yet and then when I went abroad it became worse because they thought I had run off and left her. But they didn’t know that for that short time away I don’t know how to put it but I couldn’t go to sleep without her – it was rough.
“It [talk] would bother Kenisha but they would never come around me with that because I would deal with them.”
Those little waves would all seem miniscule when compared to the toughest hurdle they were about to face.
In 2011, the year before she got pregnant with their first daughter, Kenisha became ill.
She admitted that since she was working all the time and not eating or taking care of her body properly, she became a regular visitor to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Her health deteriorated so badly that she was forced to choose between it and her job.
In an interview with the Brathwaites from their St Michael home, Kenisha recalled that it was a difficult decision for her to make.
That’s because, after four years working at the same establishment just the week prior she was placed on staff.
“The doctor was telling me that my body so run down I can’t have kids. So I make up in my mind that I have to do what I have to do. Then the next year Takara came along.”
During this pregnancy Kenisha was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She went from weighing a healthy 95 pounds for her 5’ 2” frame, to 215 pounds. She was admitted to the hospital for observation during the entire pregnancy to reduce the weight as well as her increasing blood sugar.
The baby came with no further hiccups but things were not so good, relatively speaking, during her second pregnancy in 2014. In the early stages of that pregnancy Kenisha’s walking started to become off-balanced, her speech was slurred and her vision was hazy.
“The right eye was a little stronger than the left so I was thinking that I wasn’t building up myself good. I thought I needed to eat more, drink some tonics and stuff,” she recalled.
The signs continued so Kenisha then visited her doctor and was diagnosed with anaemia.
Even after Ketroya was born on November 4, Kenisha still experienced the symptoms so she returned to the doctor for what she thought would have been a routine check-up.
After many tests, last January she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which, according to a medical definition, is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the body and brain. The cause of MS is still unknown but scientists believe the disease is triggered by as-yet-unidentified environmental factor(s) in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond.
“People were saying because I had two C-sections that is why I get MS. So now I am legally blind and can’t read or write anymore. They do all the tests and there is nothing more they can do – no glasses, no injections, nothing. The left eye completely shut down (no sight at all) and the right one is greyish. I am homebound . . . so basically I am dependent on people, which I wasn’t before.
“Apparently it was the MS that caused the off-balance when I tried to walk, so the doctor is giving me steroid injections for the walking and off-balancing. They say my bones will get brittle over time so the injections are suppose to slow it down and it is suppose to help me walk properly and bring back the speech but nothing as yet,” she stated solemnly.
Some days are better than others for Kenisha as she copes with depression.
“One day I would get up and I want to clean and pick down the house the next day I laying down and tired all the time,” she cried.
Life for Troy has changed drastically as he is the sole breadwinner and also has to play the role of home-maker. But he is doing his best to help Kenisha cope while his own mechanism to manage is reciting the Serenity Prayer which is erected at the entrance of their home.
“It is real hard but . . . it don’t make sense complaining. I got to deal with it. There is nothing that I can really do, so I do what I can do and that is to take care of my children and Kenisha. I love Kenisha with all my heart, and look at my children, they are the whole of her so it is my situation . . . my new normal, it is hard but I try,” he declared.
There are some things that Troy may regret in his life but when it comes to Kenisha and the children he was clear that they were the best things that ever happened to him. He was adamant that had he known his wife would have gone blind, unable to walk properly without assistance and needed his care more, he would have still wed her.
Clutching Takara and Ketroya as he embraced Kenisha, Troy said he questioned though if there was more he could have done for her had he known the outcome.
“For years she had been complaining about her eyes. Even before all of this happen she was saying her eyes hurting and she needed glasses because she couldn’t see that good. I ask myself had I known in the early if there is something I could have done to prevent this from happening? If only I knew the symptoms for the MS could I have done something earlier and she won’t have to be going through this? I love my wife so MS is here but my love for Kenisha is all up there. We had plenty wonderful times together so I would never regret anything. But it does hurt me the mere fact she is unable to see certain things like when Takara of Ketroya do something special or just smile but once we together I believe we will get it through,” Troy said.
“I put myself in her shoes – sometimes I close my eyes and it is hard on me and I got my eyesight, so I know how it is on her so don’t care what she does, once I alive I will be here. When I made those vows to Kenisha we were young but I took forever I do seriously. It might sound weird but before we even got married our love was like inseparable, our love was strong. She got that small people syndrome, she is full ‘surwarrior’ and that is what I love most about her.
“It [the relationship] has had its ups and downs but we love each other so we work it out together. There is no one I would rather spend the rest of my life with. We can laugh together, we can cry together, we will be good once we together,” he said emphatically. (SDB Media)