The Hardest Goodbyes Are Those You Never Get To Say

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I always saw myself as an efficient writer. Not particularly fast, but always fast enough. This however, took days to put together, and came out in bits and pieces. Sometimes it would be a blurb filled with anger, blaming life for slicing you away from me like hot knife to butter, other times an iteration of certain memories we shared—as though penning them down served to keep them alive a little while longer. But finally, it’s written. Shoddily so, but written and uploaded into the depths of the Internet so if Wi-Fi and Google translate exist in heaven, you’ll get to hear it in Hokkien and know for a fact that beyond the scolding, the shushing and the strict dietary restrictions imposed, we love you and miss you. So very much.

I used to think that death was scary. That the feel of cold lifeless flesh against warm skin would be blood chilling and make your hair stand. But in the moment I was atop you, foolishly compressing your chest while life faded away, I wasn’t afraid. Not of you at least. I used to think that we shun death because we’re afraid of the dead coming back alive or bad luck hopping off a limp lifeless body in search of healthy living host. But in reality, we run away because the mind cannot comprehend a sudden lack of constant in life. It is the embodiment of change and a permanent loss that cannot be replaced.

I won’t forget the way you never failed to sort the post when it came, making it a point to personally hand us every letter, no matter the time of the day. Neither will I forget the way you would playfully tickle the soles of our feet when the sun rose and shone through cracks in the window, to which I wished I had responded with smiles and not annoyed groans. They said you were born a little less because you behaved a certain way, but what they didn’t know was that the less made you more, and it is a more that I will cherish every single day. I will miss the way your laughter sounds and the way your your grey hair curled. I will miss your crooked right leg and the way it made you hobble. I will miss all the lesses the world saw and the mores they didn’t.

I’m sorry we didn’t get to say goodbye. That while your kidneys failed and your b.p. soared, we were so caught up in keeping you a little longer, we didn’t realise you were already slipping away. I’m sorry we never let you have whatever you want, thinking that there would be a time for that. A time for that and a time for us to properly tell you how much we love you and have you say it back. You left our lives so suddenly it feels as though any moment now, we could actually have you back.

I’m not ready to let you go. Walking into your room deals me a huge punch in the gut and seeing your favourite dialysis pillow reminds me of the many times you asked if I could send you for treatment, but I was too slow to comply. We still had countless chances to watch the TV together. We had thousands of dining table dinners and millions of hair perming sessions for the Lunar New Year. We had a whole life together. Then suddenly, we didn’t.

I never understood death, our only encounters happened too early and to people too far away. Not until I found you lying on your bedroom floor did I come up close and personal to the concept of dying. I will probably never fully grasp the idea of losing something I’ve been so used to having and it’d probably take the full course of my life for it to sink in and fade away. But thank you for the amazing memories, and I am glad and extremely thankful that during your final moments, I was there beside you to hold your hand.

My aunt collapsed on Monday night and was pronounced dead when the paramedics brought her to the hospital 20 minutes later. She was found lying on the floor beside her bed in severe distress while we tried to resuscitate her. My aunt was born with an IQ lower than the normal standard and required the care of my mother and her other siblings to get through every day life. She lived with me for as long as I could remember and was part of my life in a significant way.

She suffered from renal failure and required dialysis 3 times a week—which gave her the chance to meet all her siblings as they ferried and picked her from the dialysis centre on rotation. She remained jovial, upbeat and led a happy life throughout the treatment and never once complained, lamented or refused treatment. No matter where she is now, I’m sure God (or whoever is up) there has a special place for special people like her and that she is no longer suffering. We love you, Swee Yi, and don’t worry about the letters now, CY’s got it covered.

Sleeping Death

I never knew that sleeping on the same bed could make us feel so far apart. That even as your warmth passes over in waves under the white sheets, we are cold inside. Then again, we’re both dead. At least you are at this very instant.

You’re not the person I fell in love with. Not now. This person that lays beside me motionless on this bed we should actually call a coffin. Save for the light snores that come in a satanic rhythm and the rising and falling of your chest, I am confident you’re already dead. You do not respond to my feather light touches, nor remember I once called out your name. You do not seek out my warmth the way you so feverently do when you’re awake. This thing we call sleep, it beckons you, whines for you. And when you give in, you leave the living behind to mourn for the dead.

Its not as poetic as propaganded. The light fluttering of lashes like butterfly wings preparing for flight, the curling of lips into a smile from a dream too surreal to be etched into memory, the twitching of facial muscles like ballerinas doing a dainty dance on his face. These, these are a lie. Watching someone sleep is like having to bear the uncertainty of life, the weight of losing someone to unconsciousness. Watching someone sleep and then regain life is like walking into a morgue and recognizing an old friend.

Every night, I sleep next to someone already dead. Maybe your heart is still beating, maybe your breaths are still strong, but your consciousness, your love, your memory, its all lost when you succumb to fatigue and the pull of unconsciousness. I lose you to a dream, I lose recognition of you in a thick haze. I cannot recognize you when you’re asleep.

Hungry For More

I’m starving. Logically I know I am. I can feel my stomach clawing for food, I can hear my head telling me to fucking eat something, but I can’t.

The empty space has become my best friend. Everywhere I go, I know I have company. It fills up the voids between our conversations and it plants itself in the gaps between us on the couch. Sometimes, when I feel like I am truly alone, it creeps along the edges of my feet, tickling the very tip of my toes like a salutation from a friend that never leaves, a compellation from an enemy that never goes.

I cannot feed myself, because I am feeding it too-this emptiness that seems to grow every single day. In good moments, it cowers away in fear, its normal composed disposition undulated by the positivity of my laughter, the warmth of my toothy grin. In others, it consumes me from the inside out, like a fetus trying to break free from the restrains of what used to keep it alive, like a predator discarding its carcass after a full meal. I am its full meal. My good thoughts, my better thoughts, my sanity, they have all fallen prey, willingly. But there is beauty in this distress, not unlike how there is always beauty in death, in burial. There is beauty in this course of putrefaction because there is weightlessness in being empty. Hate rushes past you, jealousy walks through you, anger dissolves within you and sadness evaporates around you. And love, love leaves you. The love we spend our whole life seeking and hating leaves you, because it can no longer manifest within your warm body of soul. You are barren land, and love happens to be the crop. Dearth and famine replace the empty space as your new best friend and you will be hungry. You will always be hungry.

I am starving. Every piece of my soul is breaking from the hunger and I want to eat. I want to feed myself until the throbbing goes away, until the hole in my chest is filled. But this is a hunger you can never quell, this is a hunger that will never wane. Because it only grows stronger with every bite.

Death Shall Not Part Us

“You know I’ll always love you right my unicorn? I have to go now, but I will always love you.” Your warmth was leaving me, as was your scent. I clawed at you desperately, my fists making little balled clenches around the fabric of your shirt. “But I don’t want you to go. I want you to stay here with me. Please?” I felt hope, joy and happiness slowly crawl their way out of my life. You were leaving me, and they were bent on guiding your course. Despair seeped out from the corners of my eyes, stained my cheeks and soothed my burning skin, as though mocking my naivety for trying to bridge the distance between life and death. “Baby please. Baby please don’t go. I won’t make it without you. Baby please please please stay here with me. Please.” What was a well formed argument aimed at trying to keep you here had become nothing but a string of hopeless pleas. My thighs were next to yours, my hands on your shoulders around your neck and I, the entirety of I was placed upon you. The weight of me, placed upon the firmness of yours. Just like we had been this morning.

You looked so calm, so serene. On your face was the same smile I loved so much, on your cheeks the dimples in which I lost myself. Nothing had changed. You were here with me. Everything that happened was nothing but a bad dream. You were here with me. So was your touch, your breath, your scent and your heartbeat. “I have to go now baby. But I will always be here for you. Always and forever remember?” You reached across the little distance between us and placed a warm palm firmly against my chest. “I have to return you this for the time being. I ‘ll see you soon alright? Keep it safe for me? I’m sorry I couldn’t let you keep mine for longer. But I promise to let you steal it back when I see you again. For now, take this.” Then, I realized my heart was beating again. “But I don’t want my heart, I want yours! Don’t go please. Stay with me.” This was a battle I couldn’t lose. When it came to you, I never settled for less. I never gave in. “I have to go now dear, but I’ll see you soon. I will always love you. Always and forever right?”

Dealing with loss is never easy. Your lingering scent on my pillowcase, your clothes in that little compartment I gave you in my closet. Trying to remove you from my life was like trying to remove a sticky price label from a clear surface. No matter how hard you tried, some of it remained. You had grown and manifested yourself in my life like a parasitic organism. You left yourself in my milk cartons, in my candy jars and breakfast toasts. You left yourself in my thoughts, my words, my memories and my love. You were always with me-in the air I learnt to grasp thinking it was your hands, in the corners of pillows where I would leave kisses, thinking it were your cheeks, in the clothes I learnt to wear, thinking it were your hands around my waist. Every day, I miss you. So much more than I can bear. But I have also been enlightened to the fact that every day, you are there with me, that you will always love me, even if death separates us. Always and forever.

Inspired by a dream I can now only vaguely remember, in which words uttered hit me like a particularly harsh November rain-painful but oddly comforting. I hope you never die, but everyone does. I hope you never die, and live on infinitely.

Maybe This Time I’ll Stay

“Is it impossible for me to win this fight?

Keep you a little longer in my life.”

Its been quite a long time since I’ve done a cover. Since the occasion calls for it, and I happened to chance upon a really apt song, I thought I’d christen the blog with a virgin video upload of Kina Grannis’ Stay Just A Little. So much has happened during this short period of time, that sometimes, you feel like you’re being forced under water, unable to breathe.

There’s a chronic ache in my lower back, and the pessimist in me thinks kidney failure. Doesn’t help that a close friend of mine who happens to excel in the field of biology finds it amusing to keep me updated with several illnesses that show such a symptom. Also, it seems as though the wait for a job has finally paid off, because a potential employer called this evening and beckoned me down to her quaint little cafe right opposite my house for an interview tomorrow morning at an ungodly timing of 930am. As usual, my mother has repeatedly urged me to stay at home and not to take up the job, yet at the same time not providing me with a source of income and expecting me to remain at home like a child that entertains herself with her own fingers. The princess in me has been forced out of her castle and into the streets to make a living. Growing up sucks.

I am honestly rather nervous about the job interview tomorrow, because the pleasant sounding female on the other line happened to let leak that she wants to “observe the way you work”, of which “you” refers to me and “work” seems rather ambiguous considering the fact that I have yet to know how much I am paid, the working hours and my job scope. Put me in an office and I can confidently say I rock at attending to complaints and queries as well as transcribing certain lectures, but waitressing? I can’t say the same. I envision myself balancing 7 cups on a tray on one hand and then immediately witnessing them crash to the floor, taking with them my pay for the day. Also considering the fact that I am usually the one filing for complaints and criticising the abhorrent behaviour of the service crew, I’m pretty sure karma will come biting me in the back and give me customers from hell.

If you’re reading this, wish me good luck tomorrow. Who knows, maybe I’ll discover my sudden flair for balancing trays of food and memorizing table orders and soon take over the Food&Beverage industry by storm. I mean afterall, the Chows 不是省油的灯.