Have you ever questioned yourself about losing a loved one or even death itself? What if one day when you wake up, your loved ones are not by your side? How do you deal with that situation? Does death truly change you for the better or worse?
“You cannot stop time but death can” (Natherma Nafees). The meaning of life and time could be interpreted in one word: unpredictable. We make plans for the day and do not think twice about what could happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and everything can change in the blink of an eye or a snap of a finger. To be honest, I have never considered much about it myself until I was faced with the shock and undeniable truth of my grandma’s death. I do not believe anyone genuinely thinks about tragedy until they are confronted with the appalling news. No one is ever prepared to see a loved one pass away. It is astounding how in our society we take life for granted as if we live in a perfect world. Unfortunately, the tragedy never truly goes away. You just learn how to cope with it and keep moving on.
It was an ordinary day, August 27, 2018, during the summer break with my family of four. It was a scorching day at the beach, children running around in the moist sand. The clear blue sky is monotonous as I hear the sounds of families laughing and giggling while the sun is setting with the waves crashed along the shoreline. Never had I seen a breathtaking sight like this. Suddenly, my mom’s phone starts to vibrate and chime vigorously. Ring, ring, ring…The sounds of my mom's phone resonated through my head. I saw my mom, tears rolled down her cheek as she dropped her phone on the clammy sand. I asked her what was wrong but she did not respond. She opened her mouth to speak but the words could not come out.
A couple of days later, on August 30, 2018, I was all dressed up in a black suit and black glasses. I was surrounded by all these people that I have never seen before. I was completely bewildered and lost about what was going on. Wherever I looked, I saw people crying, tissues drenched with tears in their grasp and people embracing each other. As I went into the room, I saw my grandma lying in the coffin with a face brimming with make-up. At that moment, I felt as though I was paralyzed and if I was being crushed by the weight of the world. My eyes started to tear up uncontrollably and my head started to ache. I felt like if I were to move, a nightmare could become a reality. All I had was this bewildered look on my face. I kept saying to myself, ‘No this is not true, it is just a nightmare. How am I supposed to live without her?’.
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The best is yet to come” (Zig Ziglar). The most challenging period in anyone’s life is when a loved one passed away, particularly their family members and friends. Grief is the typical response with regards to death, people have a mixture of emotions such as denial and guilt. A segment of you wants to or/and need to cry your heart out and the other part wants to burst in hatred and resentment.
The passing of my grandma affected my cousin the most. She was raised by our grandma as her parents had to work in another country. My grandma was there for her since she was born. Growing up my grandma fed her, bathes her, and told her bedtime stories when her parents were not there to tell them. “I shut myself off to everyone around me. I bottled everything up. it took me a few weeks to actually talk to someone and let someone in” (Jessie Wu). She felt powerless and that she couldn't do anything about it.
As for me, I was not used to living without that particular person for quite a long time. My grandma was everything to me and my family. My grandma cared about us all and always make sure that we were happy. She inspired me to be who I am and taught me life lessons when no one was there to teach me. For example, I thought in that period of time that living without my mother would be near grief, remorse and despair are some of the central themes in ‘History Is All You Left Me’ by Adam Silvera. This poignant story is about a teenager (Griffin) who is going through the trauma of losing his best friend and his ex-boyfriend (Theo) in a drowning incident. “I’d give in to the grief but make sure I wasn’t loud enough to draw attention from those who think words will make me feel better” (Adam Silvera, ‘History Is All You Left Me’). Throughout the story, Griffin battles to open-up his emotions and regrets for leaving him (Theo) all alone. As if grieving was not hard enough, he also has OCD and severe depression. These actions are tearing him apart slowly. I can empathize and connect how Griffin is feeling about the death of his best friend and ex-boyfriend. Ever since I was a little boy, I have always been told, “Don’t have any regrets”. I truly believe it was misleading. We all make mistakes or do things in life that we regret. All of these things make up who we are, we are human, a creation bound to make mistakes. No one is perfect, we all are perfectly imperfect. However, if I were given the chance to take a different path in how I lived my life, I would want to change the amount of quality time I spend with my grandma. I hope to tell my grandma one day, “I am sorry”. “I am sorry for not keeping in touch. I am sorry for not visiting her. I am sorry for not playing mahjong with you, granny. I am sorry for not keeping my promises and all the lost time”.
From the death of my grandma, I have learned that life is not always fair. Everyone has a time in their life where they are not having a good day. Love is stronger than death even though it would not stop death from happening. No matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.