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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. 

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