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  • Life and Death

    Life and Death

    “What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?”

    I came across this question when I was reading When Breath Becomes Air. I have been asking myself this question since.

    3 months ago, my best friend took her own life. It scarred me, but also scared me. Realising anyone can simply kill themselves if they choose to is a difficult concept to accept. Human beings are powerful. At any second of the day, they are capable of making a significant impact, through both living and dying.

    I am not sure if I have fully accepted that she is gone. But I have started asking myself all kinds of questions. At the worst of the days, I felt hopeless and overwhelmed by the sorrow. During those days, I didn’t pray for a meaningful life, but a less painful one.

    Every now and then, the pain is less suffocating. I start wondering what makes life meaningful. What gives me the desire to wake up each day when I have a choice to leave?

    Today I went for a walk with my husband. The park was peaceful. We sat on a bench drinking tea. The temperature was perfect – not cold or warm. Yesterday, I didn’t know today would look like this. But I am glad I am here today.

    Slowly, I want to retrieve my desire to wake up each day, not just because I have to, but because I want to. Otherwise, life loses meanings quickly, and without knowing, it will go in a blink.

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  • Looking For You

    Looking For You

    My eyes were confused when they met the clock, “23:21” Huh…I have not reached tomorrow, but why am I already awake?

    The first thing I did was grab my phone and type my best friend’s name in an old email account. I found the invitation to my wedding and her RSVP. “Can’t wait!!!” I downloaded WhatsApp back and sent her a message. I waited to see if the tick would turn two. It didn’t. But I still wanted to try.

    The next thing I did was typing another friend Sam’s name into my email search bar. There was not much that showed up. But I went on to a list of names. Starting from the detective, the offenders, the address, the prosecutor, and then onto the intern at criminal court. Interestingly, the most humanely email was from the intern, Cathy. Everyone else’s email was so brief, but hers. She seemed to care about me, in a way that was not part of her work protocol. Perhaps she has not been desensitised by the extent of crimes and loss.

    I am not sure why I did all that the moment I woke up in the middle of the night. It happened so naturally that I didn’t question myself. Names, details, dates and places brought me closer to them. I didn’t stop at emails. I went onto Google search bar. The night with Sam unfolded as I retrieved a news article. Bits and pieces I “forgot”. Critical moments that changed my life forever unraveled themselves on my screen.

    My distance to death got lost in the details of living from time to time. I am almost ashamed I let the mundane in life take over my second shot at life. Maybe that was why I got led to the article. I needed the reminder: Sam fought to his last moment so I could have a second chance.

    If Sam were around, he would be disappointed I nearly gave up at times.

    I miss my friends. I want to be with them again, so bad. I want to have late night conversations where we talk about absolutely anything and everything. I cannot have the time back. But when I close my eyes again tonight, I will dream hard about them.

  • Euphoria

    Two seasons of Euphoria brought back flashbacks. The show depicts the impact of opiates in a raw and emotional way. I have experience with opiates through prescriptions. When I had my spinal surgery, I was given Oxycodone injections in the hospital. The first night was nothing like what people had described – I felt “well” and “happy.” I couldn’t believe I was in HDU monitored by a nurse constantly. I thought to myself: if this is what spinal surgery is, why haven’t I done it sooner?

    The power of opiates scarred me. After the first few days, I started to feel emotionless. What scared me the most was I could tell I wasn’t myself, but I felt powerless and helpless to change. The dilemma lied in the fact that they were the only drugs powerful enough to take away my pain. At the same time, I felt the stigma Oxycodone associated with. Some days I felt ashamed about myself. Some family warned me about its addictiveness and urged me to wean off. On the other hand, the doctor and nurses believed I needed them to get past the initial recovery. It was a confusing time. I didn’t know who to listen to. I just wanted to forget about everything and sleep, and opiates did just that for me.

    The side effects from the drugs were intense, but they were not nearly as hurtful as people’s comments. Later I realised the people who made comments about these drugs were those who never had to take them. Why did I let them control my life? I had no idea. But I was ashamed. I wish I had not taken them to heart. But the truth is I did, all the time. I lived in the shadows of what they thought of me. The stigma kills faster than the pain.

    Two years ago, I lost a close friend to opiates. I didn’t tell most people because I dreaded people’s responses. Someone said they were glad I was no longer with him when it happened. Often times people judge those who do drugs, but they cannot comprehend how difficult it is to exit from the cycle. I had a hard time getting over his death. He was my first long term boyfriend. We reconnected a few years ago and stayed friends since. I don’t really talk about it, because how do you explain to the world you’re still grieving your ex?

    These experiences were not ones I chose to go through, but they gave me better understanding and empathy towards opiates addiction. If you know someone struggling with drugs, please understand it will take tremendous effort to stop and please be patient with them. Ultimately, the willingness to quit has to come from within. But if you are there for them, at least they don’t have to do it alone, and that’s often times the most you can do.

  • Anticipating You

    Anticipating You

    It was early Sunday morning in Leeds, England. I was walking down the street with my camera capturing any sign of life. When I spot him, I thought the light on the buildings was epic. He was approaching the road with his briefcase. Was he waiting for someone important? Was he going to work? As I was wondering what he was up to dressed so formally on a Sunday morning, a cab pulled up and off he went.

    Everything happened in the span of a few seconds, but somehow it felt like a moment of eternity. Life often looked like slow motion at dawn. Playbacks of people and memories gracefully unfolded.

    The anticipation of someone long gone was a bittersweet feeling. For a long time, I felt unsettled about lost friends or relationships. I needed some explanations. But that morning, I felt rather at peace. Maybe the why, the who, and the what no longer matter. What matters is we once shared a memory together so pure and precious that I can recall a decade later, and for that, I’m grateful.

    The bitter part of the bittersweet slowly fades in the background when the sweet takes over. Eventually, you will no longer taste it anymore. Life is a sweet ride, don’t you think?