Death Gave Me Front Row Seats This Year

Sometime between this holiday last year...



... and this holiday this year...



... Death gave me front row seats to his interactive theater play.

I have always referred to my holidays overseas as "my motivation to live". Whatever upset me in real life, I would tell myself that it's okay, because I would soon be going to *insert country here*, to get away from it all.

I am a huge fan of getting away from it all, of escaping somewhere, of not having to think of anything beyond "where should I go next" or "what should I eat next". It's the best. It's what I always dream about, write about, and fantasize about.

Yet this year there was - and still is - no getting away from thinking about Death this year, even when I was in the midst of my motivation to live.

Everyone ceases to exist one day.

While all my life I know this fact on some level, Death is not something I constantly think about.

At my age, I have attended several funerals and lost loved ones. Yet, while I have grieved and cried and mourned the ones I have lost, my role was more of a side spectator, or at most, supporting cast, in Death's play.

This year, though, I have had two prominent positions in one of Death's interactive theater play:

a) a reluctant front-row spectator, and
b) an unwilling lead cast performer.

The main star of this play was someone who did his best to give the world to me, once he had given me life:



My father.

My father was one of the main stars of Death's many plays this year. It's not a play that anyone wants to be the main star of, but inevitably, Death will cast you as one someday.

Along with the help of cancer, this year, Death decided my father would be a main star.

Sudden.

Quick.

Brief.

We began the year noticing that my father had become more frail and thin in the past month, but still capable of talking and walking by himself, and going out to malls and restaurants.

We ended the first quarter of the year by saying goodbye to him...

... forever. 


In Death's interactive theater play, Death only directs the main star's fate, and when to end it all.

The rest of the cast and spectators are people in the main star's life - how everyone else reacts in this play is up to them.

When Death visits and makes your life a stage, drama is inevitable.

From the process of informing people that the main star does not have long to live, to deciding how to make the main star as comfortable as possible while the disease eats away at him, to dealing with the aftermath of death, there was tension, tragedy, and of course, theatrics.

There were stage hands who tried to make our lives easier, who were kind.

There were saboteurs who pretended to be helpful - perhaps, they did think they were helpful - to the main star.

There were critics who had plenty to say - especially about the "proper" way to care for a cancer patient, and the "proper" way to hold funerals - but did not spend much time on stage with the main star, or even lifted a finger to help.

It's been 11 weeks since the main star has left, but the thoughts and feelings begotten from being a participant in Death's play still lingers on in my mind and heart. Sometimes, I think I only have 3 main emotions these days.

Sorrow. 

Rage. 

Desire. 

There is sadness over the loss of someone who has played a huge part in my life. There is anger, directed at Death, other people, and myself over the whole affair. There is desire for the impossible, preposterous dreams that will never come true no matter how much I prayed.

Every day still, Death remains on my mind, though I have talked about it less and less to others.

I fantasize still about getting away from it all.

Yet, my recent trip to Australia has shown me that the death of a close loved one will always have its effects, no matter where you go in the world.


As I watched the sun set on this balcony by myself, my tears could not stop falling down my cheeks for an hour or so. It was cathartic to let myself grieve, but it was also painful to remember what I had lost.

"He will never..."

"I will never..."

"Never again will we..."

Cue, another cycle of tears.

I am a ship, and the sea has wrenched one of my anchors away from me. I am drifting aimlessly now that that anchor is gone, and I simply want to drift away. Luckily for me (and I should say, for others), there are still anchors that are keeping me in place, though my drifting area has widened.

I am someone who is easily prone to tears, but this year, my crying has surpassed itself. Even pictures of food can set me off nowadays.

"I did not get to bring him to try this."

"This was one of his favourite dishes."



"This was our last outside meal together."

Honestly, I hate being told that I have to be strong.

I want a place where I can get away, break down, and... just stay that way, for a bit. Every day, I am drawing upon my last reserves to be "strong".

I may not have front row seats or the stage anymore, but this is a powerful play indeed. 11 weeks later, I am still reliving the worst moments, re-imagining what I could have done differently. My emotions have remained stagnant and limited to the aforementioned three.

Right now, I am trying to put this play behind. I want to throw myself even more into Life's plays, knowing how precious they are, ESPECIALLY after knowing the impact of Death's plays.

Yet, I know, the effects of this powerful 2018 play will stick around, most likely for life.

I guess I can only try to remind myself that:

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." - Winnie the Pooh

...

So I am, indeed. I am so lucky, I am still stuck in the saying goodbye stage.

...

Goodbye.

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