The first anniversary of my brother’s death is coming in about a week’s time and I am feeling the grief again already. I walked home from the bus in tears, just remembering about him and wanting to tell my brother that I’ve been missing him. I was transported back to the moments when I saw him lying in his coffin – he looked so peaceful, free of the pain that had haunted him. I even remembered the tie that he was wearing – an old floral tie that looked so worn-out. Oh, how I wish I had bought a beautiful tie for his burial. I wish I had brought my best tie with me that day. Oh God, I miss him. I really do …
I still picture him in his little shop, the last few times that I saw him before he passed away. In the last couple of years, he was thinner and was quieter – no doubt struggling with his pain and heart condition, and the stress of supporting a young family. Noone can deny that he tried his hardest – he would open his shop until late at night, and then get up early in the morning to drive his daughters to kindergarten, and then return to his house/shop where he managed his shop again.
While I have to deal with the side-effects of aging, my brother Handy will always be a 34-year old in my mind. All of his siblings will have to continue dealing with life’s challenges – God knows that he’s better off with him …
It’s true that we really don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone. We take things for granted and realise the true value a little too late. If only I had known how valuable my last few encounters with my brother were, I would’ve wanted to savour each second by appreciating him, rather than involving myself in petty little matters. Maybe today is a day for me to reminisce and to discover the true values in my life. This evening I went to Glenelg with my friends from church, and as I looked towards the sea and the jetty, a thought crossed over my mind: What if this were my last day in Adelaide and that I would be returning back to Indonesia for good. Would I see things differently? Would I appreciate the colours of the sky and the see more? Would I see the people differently?
When I was in Bratislava, Slovakia during my European trip in July last year, I thought to myself that I could actually live there. I would’ve enjoyed it. However, I realised as well, that perhaps after a while – after seeing the same cobbled streets, the same old houses and castles, I would start to get bored again and want to have a new adventure: Somewhere different, somewhere “more exciting”. When we visit a city or a country as a tourist, we come to soak in the atmosphere, in wide-eyed wonderment, trying to capture and appreciate everything. As a resident, we take things for granted – we put lesser value in the things that visitors appreciate more.
We tend to appreciate things after the experiences are long gone – writers would write about their years in Umbria, Prague, Hungary, Indonesia after they leave the area. People write about memoirs after they pass their youth or the significant stage of their life. We think that our life is too boring and mundane – well, tell the people who lost their “boring and mundane” life after the bushfire or flood or earthquake – they would’ve rejected millions of dollars if they could get their old life back.
I guess what I’m trying to say is for us to savour and be thankful for whatever that we are experiencing at the moment. Be thankful for the friends and the families that we have. The moments that we have with our friends and family and our so-called boring existence may pass soon and before too long, you wish that you could turn back the clock and relive the moments again.
Go and call your brother and tell him that you love him. Say hello to your parents. Call your grandparents. Hug your friends.
Value your life because it’s priceless.