Monday, August 13, 2007


As the nation celebrated its 42nd birthday last week, a tinge of grey enfolded the family with the passing of a kin.

A phonecall from an aunt brought the dismal news - that my cousin-in-law had succumbed to the dreaded year-old battle with final stage cancer which she was diagnosed with last year.

Quietly, most of the family turned up at the wake to offer our condolences. The uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. This is a rare time that the entire extended family gathered. And while it gave us the chance to update one another on our lives, the reason behind it was one never welcomed.

The cousin was one of my favourites, this tall, lanky kor kor who doted on lil me whenever I visited or stayed over during primary school times. However, while I used to play with the cousins quite frequently in kiddy years, we have grown quite apart as they all get married and started their own families.

I had to think hard to recall the cousin-in-law's looks, but the sight of the photograph immediately unleashed a flood of memories - of how we used to marvel at the resemblence between husband and wife, that gentle soft-spoken lady I saw during Chinese New Year and other festivities.

My eyes stung as my uncle related her final days, of how her condition had improved immensely, only to take an abrupt turn for the worse as her body rejected the chemotherapy she was subjected to. I heard the pain in his voice, the grief at the loss of a daughter-in-law who, in the midst of immense discomfort, still struggled to greet him whenever he visited.

My heart broke when I saw my cousin, valiantly holding himself together during the funeral proceedings, his sad smile of appreciation at our attendance, softly announcing our presence to his departed wife as we made our offerings at the altar. I ached when I saw his sunken cheeks, his haggard body, that haunting look in his eyes.

As I paid my final respects to this cousin-in-law I never got to know better, I offered a heartfelt, fervent prayer. May the departed find peace, and the survived find strength. The sole responsibility of bringing up their two young children will now weigh heavily on him, and it will be a rough journey ahead. So strength, loads of it, he will need.

No comments: