In the last few days, something has been bothering me a lot. I picked up the phone a few times to call this person and yet, did not have the courage to do so. Yet, the heart keeps bugging me to do it. When I see Deepavali hampers, I thought of getting one and maybe give them what I can afford.
We Christians call it the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit. And I know in the heart that it is. I am not sure where courage has gone. Then, there is strength. I cannot find Mr. Courage and Mr. Strength so I never got around to do it. Yet, I feel rotten. And I feel empty.
Now that I am living in Hillside area, I passed by the old route a lot. After I dropped my son, I usually drive home. And that’s when I recalled the time I spent with the family.
Initially, I saw this tall, handsome Indian man around the hospital. I know he was undergoing chemotherapy because he was bald. He was rather sickly but he could go from counter to counter still. In the beginning, I always wondered why the family are so heartless to let their loved ones going to face chemotherapy alone. Later on, I realised they have no choice. The patients need to make many trips. Sometimes, daily. They cannot stop their lives and just concentrate on treatment because of small children going to school or babies at home. So, as long as the patients are still able to drive, take public transport, walk etc, they will do it themselves. It is also a good choice because cancer patients do not feel so helpless that way, as they didn’t lose all their mobility yet.
Later on, he was warded. He told me his story. He had a perfect family life, two small kids, a wife at home, their own house, job in a factory and he was a state basketball player. Because he was handsome and charming, the nurses too treat him very well.
He had pancreatic cancer which is a very serious one. He knew he is not going to make it. He told me about the worries he had for the wife because she doesn’t work and doesn’t have much qualification. Last year, during the cancer hospital interfaith memorial, I met the wife. At that time, the priests and seminarians were there to chat with the guy. So, I pulled the wife to the corridor and I told her about her husband worries.
I was like the intermediator. Usually, spouses have problem being too truthful with their feelings because they do not want the other spouse to worry too much. So, it is left to us (the pastoral care giver, i.e. the emotion pillars and cushions) to gently gauge the other’s feelings and try to pass on their feelings.
The wife was terribly brave and strong. She took up driving to help care for the husband. I told her about my late son and she felt comfortable with me because she know I could relate to her fears.
Much later, in the following weeks and months, I still meet them on and off. But when they are together, we usually talk about positive cheerful stuffs, her kids’ antics etc. When one is alone, we talk about the preparations. I reminded him to get his paper works ready like his EPF beneficiary, his bank account and even his car mortgage.
He died on Christmas day last year. I met the wife a few times after that. But later on, I stopped because usually, we just had casual chat as I was afraid of her breaking down. Or maybe I was afraid of myself breaking down in public. I don’t know, I just sort of try to forget everything.
However, these few days, with Deepavali coming, my heart is so restless. It is going to be the first Deepavali without the husband. The kids don’t have the father. I don’t want to feel. I don’t want to know. I just want to pretend that she had moved on. They used to live in a nice home in Kedah but now, she had to cope squeezing in with the mother in a tiny flat.
Mr. Courage and Mr. Braveheart had cabut lari. I don’t have the strength to face her. I feel too much. I hate it. I had cried a few times thinking of her predicament. But I just cannot do it. I wanted to. But I cannot. And no, Mr. Courage is not a person. It is the faith I had in me. My faith has weaken lately. When I was working as a volunteer in the cancer hospital, I prayed every morning in the chapel. This morning, I wanted to drop by my church chapel to pray but I forgot to make a turn. And I forgot several more turns and ended up driving aimlessly instead.
This is what we Christians call the Holy Spirit kacau-ing. And I shall take comfort with Jesus’s words in the Beatitudes.
“Blessed are they who mourned, for they shall be comforted”
May I be comforted and strengthened enough to call her, cheer her children during Deepavali and bring her to the interfaith memorial on October 31st. Brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for me. I haven’t felt so restless for a long time already. I haven’t felt so sad about others even when I was working there for seven months. Why do I feel so now? I know it is the Lord’s urging me to be there for her. I know it is him (from up there) worrying about his family. I know it is her coping hard to be the mother and father to her two children.
In fact, I felt so broken, I couldn’t even face my favourite priest. I think he phoned (after seeing me missing, no I did not ponteng, I only change parish hehehe) but I couldn’t talk. Sorry, Father. You know I am not the superficial person so I cannot pretend to be ok when I am not. I know this is the price of volunteering in a cancer hospital and I am not regretting or hating this burden. I just need to share with others so that maybe, just maybe, some of you will better understand about death and life. Treasure your life, give your fullest. Don’t take the good life for granted and do something for others, no matter how small it is.
**NOW…where is my happy pills? Lemme pop some now** (I have disabled comment because I don’t need to hear anything)