Monday, January 28, 2008

the unexpected farewells

I've been thinking about this for the longest time and I'm still not sure what I have to say about it so it's going to be very random.

Death is a funny thing in it's own special way. It's part and parcel of life and yet when it comes to such a sensitive topic we don't talk enough about it. Just like any part of life like birth or a birthday or even marriage we talk about it since young and always look forward to the better things in life and those happy moments.

As a child no one ever talked bout it and when someone passes on it was a solemn event with friends and relatives in tears and having a sudden beautiful memory of the person which forces a smile on your face will certainly raise a few eyebrows from other friends and family members and would be thought as being downright disrespectful.

To a certain extent I was spared this low point in life where you loose someone you love and care about until I hit puberty and then suddenly it hit me like a one tonne anvil and I was overwhelmed with feelings of fear, anger, and hurt. It's so often you hear about someone dying because of something on the news and even papers and that one morning during assembly in school it was announced that one of students was ill and soon after he passed away. Though I knew him by name and we often wished each other a good day as we walked by in school but his reputation precedes him, he was one of the brighter students in school and often did the school proud as he brings glory to the school. At that moment all I can think about is how unfair it was to have someone with such a bright promising future taken away just like that from the people who love him.

After that was just one news after another about people passing away due to gang fights or a motorcycle accident. Being in an all boys school also ensured that the testerones level was always at a high point. It was not until one day where someone I know passed away where for the first time I was thrown into a situation which I was never prepared for and I didn't know how to react in such a situation. I pushed those feelings and fears aside and moved on with my life praying that he's in a better place.

As you get older and the male pride gets larger and the courage to do anything gets bolder, you get even more bad news of people around you getting involved in accidents and not making it out alive.

One incident that left a very large scar and to some point increased my sense of paranoia that until today still haunts me was one that involved a friend and his girlfriend. We were having drinks after work at a coffee stall near office. As we sat down sipping our tea or coffee's he came out the car and was just loitering around nearby as he was on the phone screaming and shouting probably having an argument of some sort we reckoned. So we continued on with our talking ignoring him when we suddenly realised that it was quiet and there was no more shouting or screaming and as we turned our heads to look for him all we found was this guy with the phone on his ear shaking and trembling with a look of confusion on his face that seems to look paler than usual.

We made our way to him and asked him what's wrong and he did not respond for what seemed like forever and as he spoke in a voice that was full of fear all we could hear were incoherent words as he tried to tell us that he thinks his gf might have been involved in an accident. We tried to get as much info as possible and rushed looking for her which was luckily not too far from where we were. By the time we got there there were already a group of people gathered and as we pushed our way through the crowed I saw something that just sent goosebumps all over my body.

We tried to calm him down before he reaches the car but he managed to break loose and see for himself the damage to the car. The fire department was already on the way along with the ambulance. Being a car enthusiast and seeing many accidents some of us can already judge the condition she was in by the damage done to the car. It was a direct hit to the driver door against a tree. My friend was practically on his knees and couldn't do anything but sit there and cry and say sorry.

The rest of us tried to see if we could get her out but it was pretty obvious that she was trapped in the car and it involves some major removing of car parts before anyone could get her out. As we waited for the ambulance and fire department to get there all we could do is try comforting her and him and as she went in and out of consciousness. She practically almost died in front of our eyes and by the time the fire department got there and got her out almost 1/2 hour or more has passed. She passed away on the way to the hospital.

He was a wreck after that incident and in some way or another it changed each and everyone of us and somehow after that incident we drifted apart as it was something that would haunt each one of us till the day we die. Ever since then I sometimes call people or msg them when they are driving late at night or alone cause I can't forget that image that still lingers around from that day. More often than not people think I'm weird and little bit psycho when I demand that they msg me when they get back hahaahahah I guess certain situations made me the way I am now.

The thought of death has always lingered around in my mind and being through so many of it has left an impact to the way I see the world and life and even death. When my dad was admitted in the hospital for cancer it was one of the lowest moments in my life. There were times were it was all too much to handle and I wanted to talk to someone who understood what I was going through but all I got was life goes on, be strong for now you might be the man of the house, don't be unhappy or sad as the rest of the family members need you to be strong for they need your help, death is part and parcel of life bla bla bla yada yada yada. All I wanted to hear was someone saying that they know how I feel and let me break down emotionally and accept the fact that it might be the last time I might see my dad. Instead I was forced to become this person who kept his feelings all in and be the example I needed to be. People often say they know how it feels like to be in your shoes but in a situation like this unless you've actually been through it personally you can never understand how it feels like, the fear of loosing the person that is dear to you, the strong dependable person who was like a role model to you is now helplessly lying in bed looking so weak and helpless. Thank god all that prayers helped and he was cured after going through chemo.

The thought of loosing someone I love and care left a bigger impact and thought me to appreciate life and I began to care about the happiness of people around me more than my own to the point that I became so good at hiding my true feelings and unhappiness that everyone thought I have a wonderful lovely life without worry or problems, if they only knew about the skeletons that were already overflowing the closet hahahahaha

With the loss of my grandmother last year it just made me think even more about death and what happens to the people who were left behind when the person they love finally met their maker. Once again I had to be the strong one holding back my feelings as we gave her a proper farewell. It lasted a few days and when the day came to finally say farewell to her I tried my best to hold it all in but as I carried her coffin over my shoulders together with my dad and uncles towards the vehicle that will bring her to the crematorium the tears just kept flowing and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Once at the crematorium we did a final prayer and as we took turns to say our final goodbyes only did I realise that I don't have a grandparent anymore and she's the only one that I have ever known growing up. By then it was too late to do any damage control and the floodgates broke loose and I was weeping and wailing like a newborn. Only then did it hit me that from now onwards there will just be photographs of her and the memories of her in my mind and heart. As the doors to the crematorium thingy closed and as the flames engulf her coffin my heart ached like it's never ever ached before and it was the last time I would ever see her face to face again.

In that few weeks and months after that I lost 3 or 4 relatives in total and an uncle that I never even knew existed or at least have heard of him like rarely. He was my mother's brother and he sort of disappeared a few years back. He was found one week later after his death and it took another week for the police to find his relatives and the only one around was my mother.

When I got to know the news all the ceremony was already over and done with. I was so stunned and shocked that I didn't know what to do or who to talk to and the only thing I knew to do was to push all those feeling aside and go out for a few rounds of drinks. As confused and angry and hurt I was, I was glad that there was someone who was so shocked when I told the news and was so concern about me and just that little gesture was more than I needed to know that things will be better and finally someone who understands what it is like to loose a family member even though I barely knew him. It was the first time I felt comfortable sharing bad news to someone who I knew wouldn't judge me and just sit together with me in silence and at the same time try to cheer me up.

I had to help my parents that weekend by going to his place to pack up some of the stuff and move them. As we cleaned and pack up the place I kept wondering to myself what happened to him and how did he end staying alone and only being found dead one week after. I took up the courage to ask my parents and as I learnt more about him I didn't know if I should be angry or should I be scared cause I could somehow understand his reason for doing so. He has a wive and few kids who are already grown up and working. He left home few years back and moved from Muar to KL, what I gathered was he was ill and had only a limited time to live.

He sold whatever he could back home and gave the money to the family member before disappearing for good out of their lives. Nobody knew why he left or where he went. The conclusion I came up with was he didn't want the people around him to see him suffer or to put a burden on them as he slowly waited for death and worst still is to have them take care of him as he's body got more sick. He argued with everyone and made everyone angry before leaving home in hopes that their anger will not make them want to find him and I guess he succeeded because no one obviously knew where he was and even in his dying minutes and seconds he went through it alone.

The scary part was that somehow I understood how he felt and why he did what he did. He accepted his fate and was finding peace on his own before he is once again reunited with his maker. He left the people he love and forced them to accept him as good as dead before he actually even was. The even scarier part that really got me thinking is that for all his time in KL his whole life was summed up in 2 or 3 boxes. That's the only memory and possession he left behind and nobody ever knew what he went through all those years and the amount of pain and misery he must have gone through. As selfish as he was for taking matters into his own hands without even discussing it with his family, he did what he thought was the best for his family.

Another incident that I never quite understood is how a person would be willing to take his own life. It was a friend who I was rather close with and as both of us struggle through life we would often meet up and joke about what a bitch life was and how sometimes it feels like it would easier to just put an end to it once and for all be able to remove the weight of the world from our shoulders. Little did I know those times he was talking about it he was actually serious and was thinking of it.

I met up with him that night and had a few drinks and he was rather quiet compared to normal days so I asked him how things were and if there was anything I could help with. He just smiled at me and told me that some things could never be explained by words and that you have to go through it yourself to truly understand. I thought nothing of it as he continued babbling about how he was so grateful for having people who genuinely cared about him around and all I could say to him was to stop thinking nonsense and go get some rest as he looked weary and tomorrow will be a start of a brand new day with a brand new hope. I was exhausted from work and didn't think further and got home and fell asleep on my bed only waking up to find a few missed calls and a message that said thank you from him. To only find out later in the day that he got involved in a car crash and never made it out alive.

I never quite recovered from that incident and nowdays I always ensure that the phone is just beside me in bed and making sure that ringer is at it's maximum volume. Ever since that any time the phone rang at odd hours my heart will just skip a beat as I answer the phone hoping and praying it was not bad news. It came to a point that even if my phone was on vibrate and was across my bedroom I could still hear it while I was sleeping and would rush out of bed to get it. Unless I'm so tired and haven't slept properly for days. Nowadays I'm a light sleeper and often lay awake after hearing the slightly noise in my bedroom.

After so many years I finally sort of understand what he meant that nobody would understand what he was going through and no matter how he tried to explain it, people would think that he was crazy or even stupid for doing what he did. Somehow I understand what he was going through and as much as he wanted to reach out for help he didn't want people to think of him as a weak person who had mental issues. I always thought that no matter how bad the situation is or how low you get in life there's always a chance and hope but what if the very hope you were holding on to was taken away from you. Just like a lighter providing the flickering light in a dark cavern, it was never enough to light up the room but just enought to give you a glimpse of the immediate surrounding.

If even that little flicker of light was taken away there's nothing left except darkness and emptiness and to some I guess it's as good as not making the effort to make it through the night. Being the last person to see him or talk to him made things ever worst as people wanted to know what he said or if I knew about his issues. I wished I listened more closely and paid more attention to the signs of him trying his best to grab on to something or someone or anyone who cared to help him back into the light and all I had to give him was by telling him not to think about nonsense. I never quite really forgave myself and still carry the burden and guilt and though I know no matter what I do I will never make up for what happened in the past and just hope and pray that he finally found his way back to the light and is now being well taken care of.

Ever since that death has always been burning in my mind and thoughts. Seeing how taboo the word was, it was not something that can be just brought up during a cup of coffee. It involves a lot of emotions and feelings and some might even get offended by it or just run the other direction with even the mention of it. If we can plan and prepare for the better things in life then would it be weird if I was to say that death is something we should plan for also ? I mean not to the extend of choosing the date and time of your death or even how to die or god forbid to the extend of taking your own life.

The planning I was talking about was getting your business in order as in your financial issues, where you have money and how much money you owe the banks and what insurances you have etc etc, getting your epf in order and making sure to have named the beneficiaries so that there would be less hassle for the people who are still around and still have their own life to get on with.

I've been thinking about it for a while and have even thought about getting a will done. Not like I have millions of dollars hidden away somewhere but I just want to make if anything were to happen to me my parents will not have to suffer financially for the mistakes I might have done.

Death often leaves the people who cared about us lost and sad and angry and some even to the point of denial as they have trouble accepting the sudden loss. I want to say my final words before I take my last breath and not knowing when anybody's time is up I have decided to do something about it by leaving behind a part of me for the people I care about and love and tell them about the beauty of life and how beautiful mine was despite all the curve balls that were thrown my way.

I often have dreams about my death and most of the time it was from a 3rd person's perspective. I have no idea who is there or how many people are there but one thing for sure I could see the image of me looking at myself clearly. I've been jotting down my ideas and thoughts and life's journey and the path I have taken and how I ended up where I am and being the person I am today. Sort of a memoir of sort ??? Something that might help shed some light as to why I did some of the things I did in my past.

One thing for sure I want my wake to be filled with laughter and joy and non stop bubblies flowing as my friends talk about the happy times they had with me and what a joker I was hahahahah there shall be no tears as I want to see my friends and the people I care about fill with laughter and joy even on the day of my wake. The only tears I will stand for is the tears of joy as you remember the happy times we had. I will always be grateful for having had some of my friends who have stood by me through thick and thin and always believing in me and accepting me for the person I am, an emotional being with feelings who breaks down once in a while, a person who has needs and wants and craves for attention as any other normal person and sometimes can be moody and demanding but gives with all my heart. Thank you for accepting me completely with all my flaws and imperfection but that's what makes me unique right ?!?!? :P ahahahahah and non of that sad sappy songs that makes people wanna feel like crying. Play something lively that will make me boogey as I make my way to heaven ... hmmm on second thoughts there might be a place reserved for me down under in the fiery pits of hell already hahahahahhhaah

Whenever I say a prayer it has always been for the health and happiness of my friends and the people I care about. I pray to god that everyone be blessed with long life and don't need to go through the pain and suffering of loosing a loved one and even if they had to go through it, there's someone there to catch them when they fall and need guidance back into life. I wouldn't wish some of the things I've gone through to even my worst enemy as it's a torture that I want him to be spared from. Death is indeed part and parcel of life and some of us never get the chance to say proper goodbyes to the people we love before they are suddenly taken away from us.

I'm taking things into my own hands and am preparing myself as much as possible to ease the suffering of my loved ones if one day my maker says that my time has finally arrived. My words and thoughts would forever be immortalised in paper or hmmm in this sense a word document ?!?!? hahahahaha In any other world I might be perfect but for now I am just human with all the imperfections of a mortal. When the days come for me to leave my vessel and continue on with my journey I hope and wish that I have made some difference in the lives of the people around me and in someway or another I made even the most horrible day sound like an adventure and a journey that holds many possibilites. All that I ask from my friends and family is to speak of happy thoughts of me and tell the world of the bubbly cheerful person whose laughter could be heard a mile away. Tell them of the person who went through hell and back only to laugh out loud and ask the gatekeepers of hell if that's the best they can do to break my spirit down. Tell them all that you can remember about me because sometimes I myself forget who I am.