‘After all her sacrifice, she didn’t witness me graduate’
Years after dad’s murder, cancer claims Camese’s mom with UTech studies nearing end
Twenty-three-year-old Camese Wright’s childhood dream blossomed into reality on November 11 when she graduated from the University of Technology, Jamaica with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree – a path she took with her mother’s encouragement.
It was a bittersweet moment, however, as the two most important people in her life did not get to witness her success. Her father, Jack Wright, was gunned down when she was 13 years old, and her mother, Janice Williams, died of cancer in May 2021.
Wright told The Gleaner that on the night on March 23, 2013, she was anxiously awaiting her father’s routine visit, but he never showed up. A call later that night would reveal the tragic reason.
“I was in a state of shock and was wondering why someone would shoot my father. He was humble and had a great relationship with people. I started to wonder how I would complete school and how I would survive. At times, I would lie on my desk at school and cry whenever I had thoughts of him. Even though I did not live with him, he was very active in my life and supported me financially or in whatever way possible,” she reflected.
“The autopsy revealed that he had a laceration to the heart. I remember saying to my mother that my dad died of a broken heart,” Wright said.
The Clarendon native, who had graduated from Glenmuir High School with 17 subjects, including 14 grades ones, lauded her relatives, who combined their efforts to ensure her well-being following her father’s passing.
The only child for her mother, Wright said that after her father died, her mom became an even stronger tower of strength.
But in early 2021, her mother received some life-changing news regarding her health. She was diagnosed with cancer and hid it from the family for some time.
“She never wanted me or my grandmother to know how ill she was. When my family found out, they decided to keep it from me until after my final examinations for third year. My aunt informed me of my mother’s diagnosis the day after my birthday. When she told me everything and I read the doctors’ reports, I cried,” she told The Gleaner.
“I remembered saying, ‘I begged God to keep my mother because my father is already gone, and I need to repay one of them,’’’ she added.
“My mother died nine days after I was informed [of her illness], but I was mentally prepared for her death. After finding out the severity of her illness, I wanted God to take her because it wouldn’t make sense for her to suffer in pain.
“On the day of her passing, I was at a pharmacy completing some hours when my cousin came for me. I was told that my mother was discharged and wanted to see me. I was very excited to hear this news, even though I told my grandmother just the day before that I didn’t think my mother would return home from the hospital,” Wright said.
ADVISED TO TAKE THE YEAR OFF
She presumed something was wrong when she arrived home and saw that a crowd had gathered in her yard.
“My grandmother received me with open arms and started crying, and before she even said anything to me, I said, ‘Mommy dead. Don’t it?’ and she confirmed. I immediately went to lay down with a blank mind.”
With one year left to complete her university studies, Wright was advised to take a year off, but she was adamant to press on in spite of the grief.
“It was never easy during my final year, because sometimes I would break down and cry. My family and friends truly supported me during this time, and they made sure I was comfortable and my needs were met,” she said.
Her mother had been planning to see her graduate – with ideas ranging from the outfit to what they would do while staying over in Kingston for the anticipated event.
“The day before my graduation, I sat on her grave and cried because after all her excitement and sacrifice, she would not witness me graduating,” Wright reflected solemnly.
“I just want to thank my family members and friends who stood by my side through everything. Even though I’m strong, we all need somebody to lean on, and I could not have done it without them. I’m very grateful for the Lord’s mercy because even though I went through this, it could have been worse, and I owe it all to Him,” she added.
To honour her parents’ legacy, Wright is hoping she will be able to offer financial assistance some time in the future to children who have lost their parents.