2016 in Review

When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here. They are not accidents, and those moments weren’t in vain. You are not the same. You have grown and you are growing. You are breathing, you are living, you are wrapped in endless, boundless grace.

And things will get better. There is more to you than yesterday.

~ Morgan Harper Nichols

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The Passing

How do we measure loss?

Do we measure the time that they have gone, the way once we measured their birthdays? Do we calculate the times when it gets too hard to breathe or quantify the hollowness between each heartbeat?

We don’t talk about death. It isn’t the morbidity of death itself, but the rawest and purest of emotions that cuts deep within. When someone we know dies, we grief. We cope. We pay our condolences to the living and our last respects to the departed.

But what happens to the people who are left behind? How do we come to terms the emptiness that lingers within the air?

On the same day I celebrated the joyous union of two people, I lost someone I know. I will always remember him as a simple man who was never short of smiles. The little head that popped across the fence and simple pleasantries we exchanged. But for his heartbroken family, they lost more than a neighbour; they lost a lifetime partner, a sibling, a father, a grandfather,  a friend.

So tell me, what happens to the people who are left to pick up the pieces? For the inconsolable widow who sobbed uncontrollably as she retold the happenings leading to his final moments. For the strongest of men that let their tears fall so naturally. For the people who knew him well.

Death brings life into perspective, much like the appreciation of light in presence of darkness. It is in death, we remember the living. Look around us, who matters most? What if the last time you talk a person will be the last? What will your last memories be?

Grief is unexpected; it catches you by surprise, like a gush of wind or a wave that crash onto the shore. At the end of the day, death is inevitably part of life; so, allow yourself to grief.

With each breath you take, allow yourself to heal.

This is Home

As I sat on the worn-out seats at the airport waiting for my flight, the feeling of nostalgia slowly creeps in.

Coming back always feels like entering into a time wrap. Nothing seems to change but it does.

I love this town, before it becomes a city; before the timed traffic lights, new establishments, high rise buildings and concrete highways.

I love this city for its simplicity; for the familiar creaks on the wooden stairways, chipped paints on statues, serene environment in the park, and the sunset view by the beach.

I love this city for the friends I have made and lost; the simple conversations, the laughters that echoed, the memories inked in photographs.

I love this city for my family and relatives; for the people that love me and teach me invaluable life lessons. The people that watch me grow up and forgive me for my shortcomings.

I will always love this city. Even when I spread my wings and learn to fly, this is where I will always belong. This is home. 

Till we meet again. 

[Photo] Narrow

“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”
― Tom Hiddleston

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Cameron Highlands, 2016

 

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In response to Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

I Lost You in Croatia

I don’t know you well, but I lost you anyway.

I lost you on the way from Zadar, three years ago. After I received the unexpected notification, I remembered looking out of the van down the scenic road, and nothing much after. It was as though as I ate an ice cream too fast, except that the brain-freeze lasted longer than a few seconds. The world then felt as though it simultaneously sped up and slowed down, like a broken record player.

That day, I walked into a tiny church, while the rest of my friends were enjoying the scenic view of Croatia. I sat at the pew alone as I mourned for you. I lit a candle and prayed for your safe journey. And once again, I struggled to cope with the brutality of loss. You were a difficult person to know, with your barrier up and ego high, but you were family. Despite that, given the circumstances of how you left, it pained me to know that you may be alone in your final moments.

I hardly looked at the photographs taken during the trip since, knowing that behind posed smile that looked natural were seemingly forced. As days turned into weeks and months into years, I learn to cope with grief, one of the many inevitable life lessons that shape and define us.

But once in a while, I look up at the sky sometimes, and hope that wherever you are, you finally found peace.

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Croatia, 2013

Closure

I don’t understand the things you did,
But I wished you know,
I loved you nevertheless

I can’t take your tiredness away,
But with every dish I scrubbed,
I wanted to ease your burden

I can’t take your anger away,
But with every floor I mopped,
I showed you I cared

I can’t take your bitterness away,
But with every cake I baked,
I hoped to sweeten your day

I can’t take your remorse away,
But with my last breath,
I forgave you

I can’t take your grief away
I can only hope
you find peace within.