It’s really when you’re alone and when your mind’s clear that you start thinking and reflecting on the past. Regretting at times, cherishing memories when they come, and most importantly of all, knowing that you’re still sane and you’ve got a long way to go in life.

My maternal grandfather passed away when I was in Primary 4. I received the news after I got my report book, I topped my class and was so excited about it, until my dad told me in the car that Ah Gong passed away. Strangely enough, I don’t recall feeling extremely sad by it, probably because I didn’t have a strong bond with my Ah Gong. I can remember comforting my cousin during the funeral, and how everybody was crying during the cremation itself, but that’s about it. I’ve not had a single dream with him in it, and I can’t recall the last time I visited his niche, or for that matter, where it is at now.

My paternal grandfather passed away before I enlisted into Army, while I was at work. I remember visiting him before I headed to work, seeing him in the ICU with tubes all over, bloated due to water retention, and in a coma. I remember trying to talk to him a few times, but being unable to talk much because he couldn’t reply me (obviously), and I didn’t know what to say. Fast forward to the day of his death. I remember not sleeping for 2 days, staying with his coffin to talk to him, and buying him coffee on the day of his cremation. I remember telling him that I let him down as the eldest grandson because I had never gotten coffee for him before, and the first time I did it was only after his death. I remember being an emo wreck, and my legs giving way during the cremation, and blacking out after that.

My maternal grandmother passed away on the 3rd day of FWOC last year. My parents didn’t really give me details about her condition, though I knew it was serious. I never expected her to pass away so soon. I kinda visited her only twice during the entire FWOC period with Fabian, and I remember her struggling to sit up to see us when we arrived. I remember waking up at 8am, receiving an SMS from my dad that simply said, “Ah Ma passed away this morning peacefully.”, and I remember thinking in my heart, “How the fuck can anybody pass away peacefully?” I remember sitting in my room, chain smoking until I was composed enough to shower, change up and cab down straight away. The next couple of days flew by quickly, and I had to rush to and fro from Tampines to Kent Ridge Hall to do my biddings, attend various matriculation fairs etc etc. I remember my cousin calling me after I left the wake, and asking me to “slow down”, because he was going at 120kmph and he couldn’t keep up with me. I delivered the eulogy in both English and Chinese prior to her cremation at Mandai Crematorium, and I remember choking over words and struggling to find my compusure as I spoke. I remember heading back to hall right after that, sleeping and refusing to wake up for at least a whole day. Everything else was a blur, as I chain smoked 1-2 packs a day, and binge drinking – the last thing I remembered before waking up in my room with a fucking awesome hangover was downing Chivas from the bottle, along with countless shots of JD and cans of beer.

In a way, I’m glad that I had a chance to experience everything. I’ve lost loved ones, but I’ve gained valuable lessons, and I’ve learnt to cherish what I have around me. My paternal grandmother’s still around, and I’ve made the effort to spare at least one day to visit her, and to have lunch with her. I can tell that she’s happy that I’m visiting her, and though I can’t speak fantastic Cantonese, she’s too happy that I’m visiting to bother that I’m speaking in Chinese/English.

I did lose some, but at the same time, I’ve gained some too.