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Monday, April 18, 2016

A week

And it's been a week. The days rolled by, filled with work, children and shopping. And I came to wonder if it was all a bad dream and that I'll still hear you when I call your number. I hear your voice in my head "Hey, how are you?" in that slow drawl when I pick up my office phone. And I still look at whatsapp as I habitually did when you were still alive, to make sure you were alive (from the timestamps). The last time someone looked at your whatsapp was last Tuesday. Again, another piece of you that is frozen in time forever. Like your blog.

Digital footprints frozen in time before we move to another age. Dinosaur age to Digital age. You aren't around to see the next era and neither will I. I don't know what lies beyond death although I know what I am supposed to believe. A lot of things that I thought mattered, after your death, didn't seem so important. I hear you say "doesn't matter, doesn't matter" impatiently which is what you used to say to cut off my whining. And truly it doesn't after some time, although it did matter terribly at some point. Such, is life, and the passage of time.

I read through my entire blog the days after your death. There was a post which was a summary of a book (Tuesdays with Morries). I had (bothered to) type that the purpose of life is to give and to enjoy/part take of the pleasures off the world. I have also heard it said that the point of life is to make the world a better place than before we came.

You did enjoy life, that's for sure. If I look back from the time we met, you certainly had a knack of enjoying the best of life. I think you died without regrets - it was such a sunny day last Monday morning. I'm just hoping, hoping against hope, that you aren't dead still. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Somewhere over the rainbow

Can't get you out of my mind. Why. Should have known this day would come since you were first diagnosed with Stage 4. Should have been better prepared, should have tried harder to meet you, should have called you or Shu the moment you stopped looking at whatsapp.

Didn't do any of that. Was too busy with life and the whole routine of living which consists of kids, work, household stuff and CEB. Your death has made me question what life is about, and it should be no surprise that my productivity at work these two days has been shite. Thankfully it is somewhat of a lull period but it's ironical that as I prepare for the first trial in over 10 years, you, the first person I worked on a trial with, are gone. You, the person who would have enjoyed the fight and high of this trial, are at rest.

When I was driving home yesterday after a most unproductive afternoon at work (I was writing the previous entry, reading your blog and my blog which refers to yours), this song "Somewhere over the rainbow" came on the radio. It's the first time I have heard it on the radio. I thought you might be trying to say something. It also rained this morning as I drove to work, but it was bright and sunny yesterday morning when you were cremated. There is a belief that when it doesn't rain at the time of burial/cremation, the person is happy to go. And you must have been. No more tests, discomfort, pacing, struggles. You really must have wanted to go in the end, and so you did. You proved even in your final moments, what you had always believed in and lived by "Gotta hit it with your mind".

Used to say that to me all the time to encourage me. No matter what my struggles were. You called me your muse, diamond eyes and a capybara. But you were always there. You see, I'm having a real problem with you being gone because you aren't there anymore. We had this agreement, that if we were both unmarried at 40, we would marry each other. You turned 40 a month ago unmarried and then you died. Not that we could have been married anyway but my point is that you aren't there. And friends are supposed to be. Even with your diagnosis, it seemed impossible that you would actually just die so quickly and leave all the living who loved you behind. Though we didn't meet so very much in the last 2 years, I was safe in the knowledge that you would always be there. And when we met you didn't want to talk so much about the cancer. You didn't want pity, you wanted to live. Celebrate life. Life to you (and me, before marriage) was a great adventure.

With that amount of brilliance, your mind yearned for more and sometimes it seemed to me you were inextricably bound to your struggles because without the struggles, your mind would be just too restless to tame and you would just implode. We were good together, so good as friends - I could count on you to be there, when I needed you. And now you are gone. I won't ever dial your hp number again, I won't message or whatsapp you ever again. I'll tell you what - I'm going to print together a file of pictures of our times together - pictures, texts, whatsapp and that's going to be something I grow old with. One of the little treasures that I hoard through the years and that's how you are going to stay with me. I can't lose you like that. I can't accept the fact I'm not going to get another text from you saying meow, or you pulling me close to ruffle my hair and demanding a hug. Or accept the fact that the phone won't ring any longer - you used to call me so often on my office phone. It's all quiet and this silence is deafening and pounding,

Can you come visit me sometimes in my dreams? I always thought that there would be plenty of time for us. For friendships. For when the kids grow up and become more independent. Or after our last phone call, that you would still be hanging on and going in and out of hospital. I even told you about the oxygen masks and all, and you said you didn't want that. Heck, you even had the strength in the last call to grouse about Shu and her Korean movies, and also about your mum. How would I know that less than a month later you would be dead.

We ran out of time so abruptly. So used to your melodrama, I never believed you meant it when you said you might just want to stay at home and wait till the end. Should have called you daily, should have gone to your house, should have reached out to Shu to find out where you were. But I know why I didn't - it wasn't what you wanted and you said so in such clear terms.

I will see you again at your niche but until then, come visit me in my dreams.

Monday, April 11, 2016

To Lihwei

Hey Lihwei,

Today I went to Mandai Crematorium for your memorial service. I went because I know if the positions were reversed, you would have gone for my funeral too. Nothing would have kept you away because you were always there for all the big moments in my life - when A1 triple-timed me and broke my heart, you took me under your wing and made me go to football matches (at Jurong even!), when A2 walked out on me at Novena Sq, you came all the way there with your book to comfort me, and when I married A3, you were there. You said marriage would change everything between us, but I told you it wouldn't. And it didn't. It was kids that did it. Having the twins meant that I no longer could just go on jaunts with you or meet you for dinner or movies And as bad luck would have it, the year I gave birth was the year you were diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. When you told me, the news just would not sink in. It seemed impossible and incredible. We talked about this, and I told you "yes, you have to go down fighting" and you said "no, I am not going down". That was then, Your family and loved ones told me towards the end when you were given less than a month to leave, you gave up. 

When we talked when you called me on 18 March at 3am UK time in a hospital toilet, telling me that the doctor said he would give you just a month's supply of medicine, I asked you what you would do. You said maybe you just wanted to stay at home and have your mum take care of you. You said you would call me if you felt like talking to pass time. I said "what, you mean just wait to die". You said you were tired. I wouldn't accept it and told you that you had to get a second opinion, get a liver transplant. And then you said you would give chemo a shot. I asked you if you had found God or religion and you said you hadn't but you hoped that you would be reincarnated in Singapore after you died. We talked for about an hour and then the line was disconnected. You called again a bit later but I was working and I didn't pick up. I tried to follow up with you in the weeks after but you refused to meet me despite my asking. You said you were not well. You talked about Shu and about your Mum. You said she was in denial and just wanted you to fight fight fight but you didn't want to anymore. You leave me with so much guilt that I should have tried harder to meet you or maybe as my sister said, turned up at your doorstep. I don't know why you refused to meet me, maybe you were just too tired and sick, maybe you wanted me, your muse as you so often call me, to remember you hale and  hearty before you got sick. Because I would be the only one in your life who would remember you this way. 

I have too many memories of us that time cannot erase. I can't count how many nights I have been to your house, lying on your bed while you sat at your computer doing what you enjoy best, punting. We even went to Vietnam together with your mum and watched greyhound racing and walked on the beach. And to the amazement and doubt of many, what we had was purely platonic. How could it be more when all the time I have known you you were stricken with your relationship woes, as I was with mine. You were perpetually struggling with the Shu-Amelia story and I was a mess after A1. You cried at my office, snot all over my tax files (light blue if you recall). You called me after your dad died and cried over the phone. And I have cried all over your jacket, your pillow on countless times. Tell me my friend, tell me how I am supposed to move on and pretend your passing was nothing. Do you know how my heart broke when I looked into your coffin and saw a figure that didn't look anything like you? Do you know how many times I have cried between the time you died and now? I hear your voice, you would be saying don't cry, I'm not suffering. What is there to cry about? I'm at peace, I'm gone. And it's true, you are gone, you are of no more. All those questions, all that pacing, some over death and existential questions (and you blamed me because we were at a book fair at Suntec and you picked up a book on death), that's over for you. Your life story in your blog is frozen in time, in your last post on miracles. Maybe the miracle was not an event, maybe the miracle was really, just you. Your living, your life. 

You know what's really strange? I haven't watched a movie or even you tube on my phone for months, usually because I am so tired or I would rather do is surf facebook or buy stuff online, but the night before you died, I actually stumbled across a film called "A fault in our stars". It wasn't my intent to watch it as I had been trying to watch The Walking Dead Season 6 and for some reason, all the episodes of TWD wouldn't load at all and the only one that did was black and white. So I looked at the movie session and there was that show amongst others. I clicked on it and it played beautifully, seamlessly. It was a show about cancer, and the lead actor dies. It made me think of you and I was debating whether to tell you about the show. I had been getting worried about you because when I looked at whatsapp, the last time you were on was on Monday. So I texted Shu on FB at 2.30pm on Friday and she responded at 430pm that you had just passed away, an hour ago. I was leaving the office then to get the twins and everything was a blur. I drove and cried along the PIE, dried my tears when I got them, and did what needed doing when one has kids (feeding, changing, putting to bed). And then I sat down and cried some more, a lot more in the night after getting back from dinner. 

You didn't have to touch many people, indeed the turn out at the memorial service was testimony to that. But you touched the lives of the people who mattered to you deeply. And we were all there to say Goodbye to you. Goodbye the slug, Goodbye Lihwei, Goodbye, my friend. You are at peace and as torn up as I am about the hole in my world, I am grateful your struggles belong to yesterday. I will never forget you, and as long as I remember, as someone remembers you, your memory will stay alive in this world. 

Friday, April 08, 2016

Goodbye and God Speed

I have so much to say but there is so much pain in my heart and my tears are overflowing.

I will write a tribute another time but before this day which you left the world is over (8 April), my friend, my dearest friend...my shoulder to cry on during my darkest days, my travel companion on all these short jaunts, my lifesaver during the  nastiest road accident,I cannot let this day go without making you a promise - you will be so deeply missed and remembered. Rest now, all your struggles are over and you had lived a life well lived. (theslugreviews.blogspot.com)