joanne: in my own words

Let me sing a song for you,
Please sit and listen to the tune,
This ain't no song of greatness,
But only a voice of a girl,
Singing about her world.

So let me sing a song for you,
Please please please, do listen to the tune,
All I wish is for you to hear me,
As I sing about my days,
Now sing with me if you may.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Unspoken Words

When I was a little child, there were only three types of church occasions that always never failed to fascinate me: Christmas celebrations, weddings and funerals. Yes, you may think that it's normal for a child to get excited and goo-goo-gaa-gaa about attending Christmas masses and watching pretty brides walk down the aisle to be joined as one with their future husbands but FUNERALS... that's not normal, that's weird! But somehow, I liked attending funerals too.

I used to like to sit on the back-benches in the church hall, quietly watching the other funeral guests fill the front pews - all solemnly dressed in shades of grey, brown and black. Funerals fascinated me when I was a kiddo because they always seemed to carry a mysterious cloud of atmosphere with them which I somehow was determined to comprehend. This was the time when I could get the chance to see grown men and women - some of whom I called Auntie, Uncle, Jie Jie ("elder sister" in the Hokkien dialect) or Kor Kor ("elder brother" in the Hokkien dialect) cry. It was really very intriguing to me to watch these people whom I looked-up to, knew and recognized as "solid" adults before the funerals, shed their tears like children my age did at that time. And believe me, it could get ugly sometimes. I knew and understood that funerals meant somebody dearest had just passed away and thus, it was meant to be a very sad occasion.

But still, why must they cry? 

That was a question which kept on spinning in my head, desperate for an answer. I never got the chance to have somebody close to me die so I could experience what it was like to be the one crying. Like most children after a long time, I got bored of my unanswered question eventually. I left it hanging since then and never once revisited this state of mind until yesterday.

I was at an eye-specialist clinic yesterday morning to get my sore right eye checked-up. It was teary as if I just cried until my eye was red! So embarrassing! There were so many patients around, waiting for their turns, I was thankful I managed to find a place to sit, next to a smartly dressed elderly man who had the kindest and calmest smile ever. He inched to his right a little so that I could park my fat buttocks on the seat next to him nicely. What a gentleman!

As I was waiting for my turn which seemed to be eternity, the elderly man sitting next to me suddenly spoke up. Also wanting to kill the boredom that was eating into me, I chatted with him. He told me about himself and asked about me and the conversation went on into something so touching that I shall remember for the rest of my life. And the best part, my since-I-was-a-kid-unanswered-question was answered by him as well. Finally.

His wife died in a car accident about a two decades ago. Before the accident, the man was a successful businessman who owned a handful of major rice mills in the country. He admitted that the sole reason behind his success was his wife who understood him more than anyone else could and who supported him through thick and thin. But during the time when she was still alive, he never acknowledged this fact, nor did he credit his wife for his success. His wife was a quiet character but strong in nature and influential in her own ways. She was self-sacrificial; always putting him first in everything. Although he loved her dearly as much as she loved him, he never once professed his feelings for her, not even during their younger days when they were dating. He never once uttered the 3 words I Love You to her before - these are the words every woman would love to hear from her man's mouth. He found it really difficult to spit the words out even though he felt it deeply in his heart towards his wife.

Sadly, she never lived to hear him say those words. She never got the chance to know how much he loved her. During her funeral, he cried and cried and cried. And even after the funeral, he continued to cry his heart out. His heart ached with regret that he never found the courage to say I Love You to her when she was still alive; to show her how he truly felt all these years, how appreciative of him towards her support and help and unconditional love for him.

He cried because of regret - words that were never spoken when he still had the chance.



After listening to the old man, I felt a tear forming at the end of the lid of my right eye. No, the tear was not a result of my eye soreness! I was so touched by the old man's story, I started to cry. Yes, right in the middle of the clinic. And yes, in the middle of the clinic where there were still many patients waiting for their turns! But who would know if I was crying or not (except the old man)? I was having a sore eye, so my tears can be easily mistaken as a result of my eye soreness. WTH!

I left the clinic feeling like I discovered something so beautiful. It's not about the funerals and the tears people shed during the ceremony and it's certainly not about getting fascinated watching grown-ups cry like babies.

What I learned from the old man: while you still have the chance that is when you and your loved ones are still alive, tell them that you love them to show them how you truly feel inside and that you may never get the chance to say this to them again. It may sound stupid and crazy but love doesn't need a reason for someone to profess it. Say the words before it's too late. Otherwise, they would just be left as unspoken words.

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