So today the inevitable happened and my grandfather passed away. Here are my thoughts and activities in no specific order:
- It wasn’t a surprise because he’s been sick since December but what was shocking for me was how soon it happened. I never imagined that i’d be letting go of him so suddenly. I guess because my family has always been of the dramatic kind, i just assumed that they were creating some false sense of urgency to get the rest of us all stirred up in case we weren’t already.
- He passed away this afternoon around 2pm after slipping in and out of consciousness since 1am the night before.
- Apparently, he died when none of us were by his side. My aunt and my cousins were downstairs having lunch, my grandmother was waiting outside because the nurses were changing his bed, my mum was picking up the children and my dad went out for a while. And so during the few minutes that he was left alone, he decided to leave for good.
- I didn’t get to say goodbye to him at all. Not when i left for Jakarta, not when i got here, not when he was on his deathbed, nothing. When i was leaving, he’d already gone to sleep because he was getting weaker and weaker. And i’ve tried calling home a few times but everyone told me it was no use because he couldn’t hear or respond to me anyway.
- He got baptized a few weeks before he passed away which is great and i wrote about it here.
- The biggest dilemma is whether i should go back or not in which most people, including my parents, aunts and grandmother and friends, told me i didn’t have to because well, i’m kinda broke, it would involve having to go to the immigration to make a new visa all over again, taking more time off my internship in which i only have one month left of anyway. Anyway…it wouldn’t make a difference…he’s already gone.
- But then again, it’s not like i or any of my family members thought to get me back home while he was still sick in the hospital. I guess we were all pushing the envelope in a way. Selfishly hoping that he’d hold on a little bit longer.
- My auntie texted the family group chat and told us that she found my grandmother crying in the room facing my grandfather’s side of the bed and that she can’t sleep.
- I called my grandmother this evening and it was probably the first time i ever heard her crying. It made her seem so young and fragile all of a sudden. But then again she’s always been energetic and feisty. She told me she was scared that she would be left on her own if my auntie ever left to get married because it always used to be her, my auntie and my grandfather. I told her she had her grandchildren and that we’d all do our best to always be by her side.
- My father has been crying himself to sleep according to my mum who has been trying to soothe him. He thinks that he didn’t do enough for his father while he was alive but i fucking beg to differ. My father has done all that he can and still is, while all everyone else is doing is giving shitty excuses about how they’re all suddenly poor as fuck. Fuck them.
- My dad has been shivering and telling my mum that he feels cold and he believes that it’s because my grandfather is feeling cold as well. My superstitious theory is that it’s because my grandfather hasn’t been buried yet and he’s stuck in the morgue probably in a freezer of some sort. My mum thinks that it’s a good sign that he’s feeling cold instead of hot because in the afterlife, the last thing you want to feel is hot. Do you get what i’m getting at-
- My boyfriend has been active all day everyday, in charge of making the slideshow for the funeral, buying food and drinks, distracting my younger siblings and whatnot. He’s the best. He makes a better grandson-in-law than i ever was as a granddaughter. I was Skyping with him just an hour ago and he kept tearing up and getting emotional. My grandfather liked him a lot and vice versa. What’s there not to like? He’s a model boyfriend.
- The caption on my instagram post says,
“It’s a weird thing when someone you love passes away when you’re overseas. You don’t know to stay or to go. To cry happy tears bcs they’re finally put out of their pain or to cry sad tears bcs you’ll never come home to them watering the plants or washing all the cars in the garage again. But either way tears are unavoidable. I wasn’t the best granddaughter growing up but i will never forget my kind, patient and generous ahkong who never scolded me, not once not even when i “ran away” from home at 13 and decided to camp out on their couch (f.y.i. they live downstairs), not when i came back at 3am and forgot to lock the doors, not even when i wasn’t in Brunei to take care of him when he first got sick in December. I’ll never forget how he used to surprise me by washing my car, how i could count on him to be sitting downstairs in his favourite seat watching his tv shows, how he used to try and wait for me to come home every night. Thank you for being the silent stable presence in my life. I hope you’re free of pain up there and may you be shown the kindness and gentleness you always showed to everyone when you were still here. I love you. Be assured that your future generations will remember you and love you as you were.”
- I wish i was back for his funeral and that i could read my eulogy for him. But i’m not. And i don’t know what to do.
- My biggest regret is not being nice enough to my grandfather. I was always polite but i always found way to show my displeasure at something. Small yet distinct ways to make it clear. I wish i had been a better granddaughter to him and that i had hugged him more and said i love you to him. I wish that i had been more comfortable with him and allowed myself to love him more. I wish i had thought about him more. I wish that he knew how much i actually loved him. He’s probably my favourite grandparent out of all.
I was on the phone all day and i had sobbed and howled for hours because my mum told me to leave him a voice message that she could play to him but she never got the chance to anyway. But i decided to pull myself together and to go to work anyway because what the hell else was i supposed to do at home? What good would i be doing for myself and my grandfather by moping around in my room and sobbing in bed, feeling sorry for myself and my family? So i went anyway and by evening i was practically back to myself and laughing at jokes, running around looking for scripts and collecting walkie talkies and handing out programme rundowns. And then i asked myself, am i really feeling that much better already? Shouldn’t i be feeling sadder than this? Shouldn’t i still be grieving? And yet if i’m really that okay, why do i feel such a literal heaviness in my chest? Such a weighty rock just pulling down in my middle, unlike any lump in throat that i’ve ever had.
And that’s when i realized that while i was conditioned with an impeccable coping mechanism which enables/forces me to get back up and running as soon as humanly possible, it also very much conflicted with my feelings that told me that i needed much more time than that. And conflicted i definitely was. A part of me had convinced myself that i was feeling so much better that i had actually begun to believe it. And yet another part was telling me that i was being disrespectful and not caring enough by moving on so fast. I was and am sad but it seems like my mind just won’t let me be. I’m not sure to be grateful or not.
Rest in peace, ah kong. Always and forever yours