I’ve often wondered, what would you’ve done if I had been the one to say goodbye first. Would you miss me the way I do now? Would you be able to hold a smile despite the hollow feeling clawing at your heart? Would you have been able to tell yourself that things would get better as your eyes get wetter and your spirits sink lower? Would you detach from reality the way I do, when the feelings overwhelms you? Would you feel empty and forsaken even when you have company around you?
You would not. For Nik, I’m sorry that I’m not as strong as you are. They say I’m strong. I’m not. For the love of God, I’m not. I’m clinging on to your memory. I’m grasping for breath on most days when the absence of your presence defeats and conquers me. I’ve always depend on words. Words.. They’ve never failed me. But when it comes to you, when it comes to the subject of you, words mean nothing. Zip. Nada.
3 words. I miss you. The world has massacred those three words so much it means shit. But do you fully understand what it means to be missing someone you hold dear? Do you apprehend this? Are you fully conscious of the impact of those three words? Do you? Do you know how much I pine for you? How much exactly it is that I yearn for you? To have you around for the simplest of all things? To just have you staring at me, not agreeing with the latest bastard I want to give my heart away to? To have your eyes on me as you encourage me to go through Life? To have the warmth of presence against me as you hug me and tell me that, “Che, everything is going to be allright.”
3 words. I love you. And those aren’t even enough to fully illustrate just how much I adore you. How do you fully express in words the admiration, the devotion, and the sentiment a sister holds for her only baby brother? You can’t. Because some things are bigger than mere words. Some feelings cannot be articulated in definition, in speech or in voice. Some feelings cannot be emphasised enough, however powerful that declaration may be. Some words just falls short when it comes to loving you.
All these times, and nothing has changed much. I feel like as if I cannot miss you any more than I am already. I don’t know how to progress beyond where I’m currently standing. Some things I keep repeating to myself, to keep me going is starting to lose its effect and the soreness of not having you around is starting to engulf me in flames. But, tonight as I sit here, writing this to you, I want to celebrate you.
A couple of Chinese New Year back, I remember we went to the night market in SS2. There was a stall selling these huge paper lanterns- Kun Ming lanterns, the kind that floats up into the sky. Man, I thought you struck gold. You looked like a kid again, albeit one whose Christmases came all at once. I remembered going on an eye-rolling frenzy as you bought a few and can’t stop talking about it. Boys, I thought, will always be boys. And girls, girls like me will always be girls. We don’t give a shit.
Naturally when we arrived home for Chinese New Year, you set on about your favourite day of the year. Chinese New Year eve has and always will be your enfant gate, one that you guarded quite ferociously. You insisted we go to the park behind the house, your eyes just gleaming with excitement. You needed to test the lantern. I went with you, playing along with the fuss. I was there when you lighted it up. I was there when the lantern floated into the darkened sky. I was there, but I didn’t quite understand, couldn’t quite put my fingers on what it was that you were on about. I was there but I wasn’t present. I had other things on my mind, which I have nothing but contrite for now. Things that seem almost sycophantic now if you asked me. Worthless maybe. Wretched even. Shameless? Definitely. But that’s another story, a different letter ey?
On this quiet night, I sit and I ponder. A sky full of lighters. “What did that meant to you?” I used to ask myself. Why were you always so fascinated by the idea of it? Really, baby. Those are just paper lanterns. Charming, yes..but the giddiness you reserve for it? You’ll only ever see me fall over myself like that if you buy me a pair of Loboutin.
But after what we’ve been through, I can only think of one. One word. Hope.
See those lanterns, man, they’re tricky. At least to me, they were. Watching your friends light the two lanterns up, I was one great colossal ball of nerves. I was anything but calm. I was in a tizzy. I fear that the lantern will not fly and how in the World am I going to console Mummy, if it flopped down and goes out in flames? So as you can imagine, we were all quite antsy. I call it sheer engineering..We had quite a few holding on to the lantern on all ends, and amidst shouts of ,’Ok. OK..it’s floating.’..followed by, ‘No! No Shaun! Hold on to it! It’s coming down!!’..and then seconds later came ,’Guys, let go. Let go. How is it gonna go up if you keep holding on to it?’..and then ultimately, ‘Arghhh!!! No no!! It’s coming down!! Go get it!! Go get ittttttttttttt!!!’
I’m not sure how the rest were feeling, but personally for me I was starting to feel slightly dampened and rather crestfallen. And those feelings are no stranger to me. I’d even go as far as calling ‘em my wingman. And naturally, I started questioning myself and chiding even, for having the audacity to come up with this idea. What in the World was I thinking?
It was during this merciless self cross-examination that someone started roaring. Aunty Julia. “Up! Dennis! Up!!”. And she continued so in the next few seconds as the rest of us watched in trepidation. All eyes on the lantern, which was swaying precariously, near the rocks. All hearts in our mouths. Time stood still for a moment. And then, just as it looks like it was gonna come crashing down, ever so slowly, and uncertainly, it started ascending. And then, as if it started having a mind on its own, as if it was defying all odds, it started to soar, resolutely, determinedly and zealously up into the sky amidst scores of cheers and delight. “I’ll show you lot what it feels like to fly! Up, up, here we go!!,” it seems to be saying. I released the breath I held on.
And just like that, after so many years of being cynical and quite morbid actually, I have hope restored back to where it belonged. I’m done being resigned to what I think I deserve just because it was dished out to me. I have every right to say, “No. This isn’t what I want.” I get it now. A sky full of lighters means to you a beam of hope, a ray of hope, a glimmer of hope and a flash of hope. And for that precious lesson that you’ve shown me, I will feel hope, entertain hope, harbour hope, indulge hope, cherish hope, feed hope, foster hope, encourage hope, cling to hope and ultimately live in hope. Because I’m worth it. It’s a birthright given to me from the start, which throughout the years has gotten lost buried under layers of failures, disappointments, misstep and manifested upon slabs of dejections. But today, I discovered that like a gleaming hope that fire still burns inside of me.
And I’d like to know that you were just watching from the heavens above the day we re-created your very own sky full of lighters. And I’d like to think that you’ve gotten all of our letters to you. I’ll keep this letter short today.. And just as the lanterns that burn brightly that night, I’d like you to know, that no matter how defeated I get in Life, when I feel as if I couldn’t take one single step..days when I just don’t wanna wake up, moments when I just feel like giving it all up, I’ll remember your fire for Life, and just for your sake, I’ll battle this on. For everyday, everyday that I survive, I’m just that closer to seeing you again.