Three days ago, the news of Whitney Houston’s untimely death spread all over the Internet. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it in Twitter. She was my very first idol; her CD was the first I have ever owned and bought. She was the reason why I love R&B songs. Why do talented people die young? Can it be caused by society’s pressure for perfection or the inability to live and accept a non-celebrity life once their careers go downhill?
Two days ago, I found out from Facebook that one of my ex-colleagues’ 29-year old brother passed away in an accident. Their relationship was very close. Way back, whenever we asked about her family, she always spoke very fondly about him. They were the perfect family.
I couldn’t help but to feel a lot for her. I know exactly how it feels like to lose someone close to your heart, to a car crash. My husband’s family experienced a similar fate in May 2008. And it has taken me close to four years to finally share this.
Until today, I could still remember the day very clearly: Hubby was driving, got a call from a stranger, we panicked and started losing control of our emotions. Stranger said in Malay “Your father in an accident…somewhere near Johor” They were on their way to visit their grandkids there. What to do next? How are his parents doing? Nobody could give us an answer.
With disoriented minds, we packed our bags, sent Odee to the pet hotel and made our way to Johor. We got more calls on the way…from heartless caretakers who couldn’t wait to earn our money. That was how we first found out about his mother’s passing. We refused to believe these people. As I called to inform my parents, I broke into tears. We were to meet at the state interchange where they would go to Johor with us. Hubby came in and out of silence and tears throughout the way.
Upon reaching the hospital near Johor, we saw some relatives waiting for us. The expressions painted on their faces confirmed the news; my mother-in-law was gone forever. Seeing her lifeless body in the mortuary was probably the hardest thing we had to do. I couldn’t stop asking, why did such a fate befall a noble and kind-hearted person like her? Why was she taken away from the family so soon? Only years later were these questions finally answered.
My father-in-law was badly injured and warded in another hospital. That night, we drove back to Melaka and stayed up overnight to prepare for MIL’s mass. My heart shattered into pieces when my Hubby’s aging grandparents (MIL’s parents) cried uncontrollably upon seeing their daughter being wheeled out from the caretaker’s van.
Although I have only officially joined the family barely seven months ago, MIL and I have gotten along really well. I will never ever forget her delicious, made-from-scratch popiah, also dubbed the world’s most delicious popiah. She was a wonderful cook and had admirable traits of patience, understanding and tolerance. She was the reason why I embraced gratefulness and simplicity in life. She taught me what pure family warmth and love was all about. I will be forever grateful to her for leaving behind such legacy for us to continue.
The next few months were spent bringing FIL back to good health. He wasn’t himself for almost a year – drifting in and out of sadness and loneliness – but being a strong Buddhist and with great support from friends, he quickly recovered and embraced the life that he’s being blessed with. Ewan’s arrival made him a lot happier. Today, he still talks very fondly about his wife in every possible way.
Life is uncertain, but death is – how, when and why are something nobody can predict but we can be sure that one day, our physical form will stop functioning but our soul will continue to live on in the next rebirth, if you believe in it. All of us were born for a reason – whether it’s to save the world or mankind; to ‘make up’ for what we have done in the past lives or to reconnect with someone we love – only time will tell. For my MIL, she lived 59 fruitful years, contributed to the society, impacted so many lives in a positive way before she left us in a way some people deemed ‘tragic’, but it was probably just a mean for her to clear up the karma from her past life. There’s one thing we are very sure of is, she’s in the state of eternal bliss now.
We have come to peace with her passing although at times, I can’t help but to wonder how much Ewan would love his grandma if she’s still around.