‘To be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith to you.’
The quote above has for many years given hope and strength to people who want to stay in love. After promises are made following a walk down the aisle, leaving becomes a breach of love’s contract. So, people stay in love to make it all work out.
What if, there is no promise, there is no blessing, no in sickness and in health, just an assurance? What if?
In a world where love is wicked, Josh and Sozo are redefining the concept and living a life worth emulating.
A romantic song did not play in the background, neither did flowers start falling when Josh met Sozo.
It was a normal meet.
Actually, Josh tells how Sozo was not his ‘kind of girl’ when they saw each other for the first time.
Josh’s cousin had come visiting at Zaria from Abuja and came along with Sozo and another friend. On first sight, Sozo looked annoying according to Josh, she looked too serious.
“It's love at first smell,” Josh sarcastically told Pulse.com.gh.
“At first, she was annoying. I came out to my sitting room wearing a boxer and vest. She had a stern look and playing scrabble on her phone, so I sensed her type to be nerdy and overly serious. As a fine man, I expected attention, but she didn't even look or budge, so I walked past her to my cousin's other friend who had come with them.
“Within the few days they spent in Zaria at my cousin's, I gradually started to see other sides of her. She was simply real and sincere. So there was simply a sincere connection between us. But I still never saw a relationship there."
“I had a lady I was seeing working towards a relationship so technically, it was a displacement."
“For Sozo, a week before we met, she had just come out of a relationship of four years that was set for marriage. But they broke it off on mutual grounds. It was a heartbreaking process for her because she was sure that was it. But God guided her off it for some reason she didn't know, and she simply obeyed.”
When he later visited Abuja, a friendship started.
“I came back to Abuja at a later time and met her again, and we became friends,” Josh says.
“We built a real friendship from there. I thought it was time I got serious with my relationship, so I took out time to pray about my life partner. The truth is, I had other ladies but didn't seem like what I needed so, I had to pray,” he continued.
He would later ask Sozo to be his girlfriend on Christmas Day in 2015. She laughed and the two flowed with the vibe.
The two grew in friendship even after asking her to be his girlfriend before they fell in love. As a couple, the learned, unlearned and are still learning.
Josh proposal to Sozo is not your usual romantic flamboyance you see in the movies. The couple were not entirely in a happy mood, but he felt it was the right time to do it.
Sozo’s mother had been battling with cancer and the two spent a lot of time with her at the hospital. On one of their visits to the hospital, Josh went on his knees to propose to Sozo in front of her mother.
Josh narrates how Sozo’s mother had seen the nervousness in his act prior to the proposal saying:
“I went on my knees in the hospital ward and asked her to marry me in front of her mother after her mother had finished teasing me that I was behaving like an expecting hen when she saw my restlessness before proposing,” Josh told Pulse.com.gh.
“I saw the right opportunity to respectfully ask her, so I dared and did it. I had the ring with me for the perfect moment and I got one. Her acceptance, smile, and excitement made me feel like an achieved man. I felt grown, fulfilled and happy to have this lady.”
They were happy though they didn't know what the future held. In simple terms, this is a sad story, but the courage Josh and Sozo have had through it all is an inspiration to the world.
Josh and Sozo had to travel back to Abuja for an exam to catch up with some programmes. The couple got into an 8-seater vehicle. A pastor steps into the vehicle to pray for travellers, an act Josh had not been comfortable with prior to the day. However, on this day, Josh gave the pastor something.
An hour into the Abuja trip along Kagarko road, a village in Kaduna state, Josh, Sozo and his cousin Eka who were seated at the back of the vehicle were involved in an accident.
"In the bid of trying to avoid collision to an oncoming truck overtaking another truck against our lane at the same speed, the car swerved off the road and attempting to stabilize back on the road," Josh talks an emotional moment in his life and the life of Sozo to Pulse.com.gh.
The car tumbled several times and that was it. I remember the first thing I said was "it's not unto death but unto life."
I couldn't breathe well but started speaking in tongues, Sozo and Eka were in serious pain I was even more concerned about them than myself.
Hospital experience for Josh and Sozo was another trauma the couple had to endure. On what their diagnosis was, Josh explains to Pulse Ghana.
“Sozo sustained multiple hip fractures which kept her in bed for three months. She is now better,” he said.
“My cousin Eka had a femur fracture, and she's now better and married."
“The diagnosis for me was a C5 C6 spinal compression. I was paralysed from the chest down. I underwent a surgery and subsequently sustained a bed sore of 7 cm deep and 5 cm wide and 7 cm long on my sacral region (my butt)."
“But with rigorous physiotherapy, my trunk muscle, arm and my legs started to recover but the 8 months of treating bedsore caused a relapse. So, it was like starting afresh especially for my legs.
“I was transferred from National hospital to a physiotherapy clinic and then to ABU teaching hospital Zaria teaching hospital Kaduna State, where they started treatment for the bed sore,” Josh recounted.
The Challenge & The Support
The story of Josh and Sozo was not as easy as it reads. There were moments when both team members had to psychologically make up their minds to pull through.
There were spiritual battles to be fought, something Josh believes he and Sozo triumphed with God on their side.
Tears were not out of this love equation and understandably so. But Sozo was strong and kind at heart with a sense of hopefulness. And so was Josh.
Support from family and friends also played a key role in everything that happened. From a praying source, a friend, to a dietician; Josh’s mother was there every step of the way being his first doctor.
Despite having to deal with her own health issue of breast cancer, Sozo’s mother never changed from the love she had for her son-in-law to be. Nothing had changed with ‘Bobo’ as she affectionately liked to call Josh.
When the pain cuts you deep;
When the night keeps you from sleeping;
Just look and you will see;
That I will be your remedy;
When the world seems so cruel;
And your heart makes you feel like a fool;
I promise you will see;
That I will be, I will be your remedy!
Lyrics to the song ‘Remedy’ written by Adele Adkins and Ryan Tedder on the November 2015 album, 25.
The words to the song is the life Sozo lived when the pain caught Josh deep. It was the comfort she gave when the night kept him from sleeping. It was a sure promise that he should look and see that she was actually his remedy even when no vows had been said on the aisle.
Sozo’s decision to stay was not just a walk in the park as Josh recounts the extent she had to go. This, shows in all manner of analysis that love was willing to stay.
“Sozo is a strong being. As soon as she stepped into my hospital room, tears began to pour out her eyes,” Josh recounts the emotional story.
"But she had a smile on in excitement to see me again after being separated for two months recovering. She simply said "You'd be fine, we'd make it through".
“And she had just a sling bag on with one dress in it. She practically built her life after with me in the hospital letting go of everything that made up her life. Sozo had every chance to go, but she said she will stay here because I am her best friend. She never had a second thought except that I would walk again, and she worked towards it.”
Josh tells the extent Sozo will go as her commitment to see him feel good, remain as healthy as possible and quicken the healing process.
“I remember when she first saw me that day, she wondered why I had bloated tummy. Seeing I hadn't pooped in days, she pressed my belly, then turned me, placed tissue around and used her bare hands into my anus to induce me to poop,” Josh tells Pulse.com.gh in appreciative mood.
"She excavated poop the size of what I can't explain which blocked the toilet and kept at it till my relief."
“My tummy went down and she kept doing this almost throughout my hospital days. Amongst many other crazy instinctive things, she did to keep me healthy and stronger and to stay in a good condition for a faster healing process, she remained strong, supportive so the process felt easy and fast.
“She loves me like God loves. That's the only explanation to her kind of love. She is not even partial about it. She simply loves,” Josh says.
The Two Shall Be One
Amidst the advice from people that Sozo should not waste her life on a man in a wheelchair as most men would swoon over such a beautiful lady, Sozo stayed and loved ‘Wheelchair Josh’ believing that #JoshWillWalkAgain.
Josh and Sozo defied all odds to get married.
“With God being our energy, He saw us through till date. We finally took the step of faith to tie the knot,” Josh talks about their marriage.
"We know one thing 'it is not what happens to you that matters, but what you do with what happens to you'.
"Here we are, defying all norms to become the formidable duo we have become. We want to share our story with the world to give hope and courage to anyone out there,” he ended.
“I really don't have a literal description of why I stayed other than the will to love Joshua and see him through till the end. This will came from my relationship with Jesus.
“I had no one who could understand me and how I felt by each blow that came, the process, the patience, the courage, the pains, the reality shift, the mind wars, the dawning moments, the heartaches, the joys, the simplicity, the confidence and hope that came with this journey.
“I had just one place for succour and that is God. If not for Him, I could have burst. Jesus was my sanity,” Sozo ends the story on why she stayed.
Joshua has written a book titled "30" (Thirty).
It's a book about principles he applied and lessons he learnt that energized him, words of power that pushed him beyond limits and he is sharing it with the world to keep us encouraged.