Death and carrying on

Birth and death is the natural course of a human life yet while the West rejoice in birth and mourn death, the few funerals I attended as naive child felt more like a celebration. I was shielded by my parents from death as they’ve encountered too closely the meaning of death. It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I had come face-to-face with it. I always thought it would be like it has been where an elderly parent would pass away and a child would pay respect by becoming a monk or nun for a time being. Instead, you begin to understand mortality and the mean of “end” when a close friend the same age as you pass away.

As a healthy youth in a country where you will never see hunger, you don’t fear the end. You don’t know the meaning of the end.

When my friend was diagnosed with cancer, it still didn’t strike me that she was in any mortal danger. Instead, I had this naive belief that youth would be the cure. There was no way life would be taken from someone so young. It wasn’t until the day her mother pulled me aside, in tears, and told, “you have to be strong. I have bad news.” I still clung on and thought,”no, no! It’s not true.” I had visited her bedside every other night talking and laughing and suddenly, I was faced with a ghost of her, delirious on drugs and pain.

A year has passed since her death. I used to think it would be easy to let go and let the dead pass and the living move on. It’s not that easy. I have dreamt of her and when I talk about her, my voice still breaks and a part of me still weeps silently. They say you should move on and think of happy moments. I always ask, how do you move on from something that once meant something?

I dwelled on it for a long time and have accepted that it’ll always hurt to think about a lost one. The pain doesn’t dull in a matter of a few months or years. It might take much longer. And I don’t believe moving on as quick as people may say. I carry a memory of her and instead of moving on, I carry those painful memories laced with wonderful and happy moments, especially seeing her pass on surrounded by family and friends. Her life and her memory reminds me of my own mortality. They encourage me to live my life to its fullest and they continue to light up a spark in me when I am at my darkest.