Loss and Grief

I almost forgot how it feels to lose someone I love to death until my uncle’s untimely demise last December. It was all too sudden. He was still physically fit at 78 and was even able to drive around although he was probably already feeling sick but kept it hidden from the family. It would have been so typical of him, someone who doesn’t wanna waste time in a hospital bed. Whenever we had a family outing, he was notable for hurrying all of us to go home right after we finished eating even though some of us haven’t started swimming yet. He just wanted to be home.

The day before he died I was happy to see a video uploaded by my cousin on Facebook of him opening his eyes for the first time after several days. We all took it as a positive sign. I thought I would still be able to see him well and kicking with all his jokes. Past midnight I woke up and checked Facebook only to find he was gone. I would never see him with his toothless smile ever again.

My cousin suggested we make a slideshow of his photos. Being the one with the technical know-how, I was tasked to produce the video. I checked all the photo folders in my external drive, searched for his photos in all my cousins’ Facebook posts only to realise all of us don’t have much photos of him. We don’t have even a single proper solo photo to frame and place above his casket. We ended up framing a photo when he was younger, probably 40 years old. It was because he didn’t want to be pictured so all we have are photos of him sandwiched in a crowd, many of which he wasn’t even looking at the camera. Now I don’t dread people who post too much selfies that much anymore.

“Come stop your crying it will be alright,” I was unto the first few slides but my tears couldn’t stop falling. “You’ll be in my heart, from this day on now and forevermore…” I looked back on those opportunities I missed when I could have visited him. I realised we didn’t really have that much memories spent together but that doesn’t mean I loved him less. He was always in my heart, I was always fond of him, I just don’t know why I didn’t exert that much effort to spend more time with him. The last time I saw him he asked for a Christmas gift and I just answered him, “Yong it’s too early. Christmas is still far away”. Had I known that I won’t see him ever again, I would have given him all the cash I had at hand then.

You see, regrets are futile. It will never bring back missed chances. It will never bring back our loved ones. I remember about 5 years ago, I was struck with the thought that our elders are getting too old and that they may leave us soon. So I began to take lots of photos of them with my DSLR. The sad thing is my uncle, being himself, evaded my camera so much that I never found the right timing or angle. I thought there will be many more chances to capture him but I failed. And I also failed at making sure he felt how much I cared about him.

Since high school, I tried to live by the saying “never leave words unsaid and things undone” and “roses mean nothing at deathbed”. Somehow, I was good at executing these words to my friends maybe because I knew they are in my life only temporarily; our paths will cross and then they will move on with their career or marriage and I may not see them for years. On the contrary my family is always there no matter what happens, or so I thought.

Christmas 2015 was a very sad moment for our family but as the new year begin, my uncle left us with a valuable lesson and that is to always make the most of the time we have with our loved ones. We are a united family but my uncle’s death bound us even more. It’s still difficult to move past this grief but I will make sure that it doesn’t cripple me from appreciating those that are still alive.

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