Posts tagged with "death"

August ending

August passed me by.

My Tai Chi stu­dio closed at the begin­ning of the month due to the new provin­cial tax pol­i­cy. I was going to look for anoth­er stu­dio, but I haven’t had a chance. Instead, I took up singing lessons. It did­n’t help that Starcraft 2 came out, and the fact that most of my friends pur­chased it too so there’s always at least one per­son online and ready to play with me.

greeting Audra

 

Continue read­ing “August end­ing”…

Grandma died

The details are scant, as I only found out sec­ond-hand through Darren. They say she was on painkillers and went peace­ful­ly in the hos­pi­tal. It was her pain that scared me most; bet­ter to pass on than live with suf­fer­ing through can­cer and chemother­a­py at her age, I always thought.

It brings me com­fort to know that Mina, her trusty and loy­al maid, was there with her when she died. Also, to know my aunt will be able to go back home to a nor­mal life, instead of dot­ing on my grand­moth­er indef­i­nite­ly after giv­ing up her law prac­tice and leav­ing her hus­band and daugh­ter in Canada.

I called my dad, and he seems to be tak­ing it as well as I am. I learned all my Chinese idioms for death by lis­ten­ing to what he’d say in these sit­u­a­tions. One is some­thing like, “She’s passed her body”, which always sound­ed very spir­i­tu­al to me and plays on the Chinese belief that our spir­its pass from this world into an ances­tral realm. Another has some­thing to do with becom­ing “fra­grant” or the smell of incense. But when he asked if I knew, he said, “Did you hear that grand­ma went?”

I just hope my cousin Priscilla is alright. She’s a pint-sized woman (even by Asian stan­dards) who more than makes up for her small stature with a razor sharp tongue and wit, but she was the most ador­ing grand­child I’d ever met when it came to our ma ma.

All of grand­ma’s kids were already in Hong Kong to be with her1 — many of them fly­ing in from dif­fer­ent parts of Canada — which is a tes­ta­ment to how impor­tant she was. She was the uni­fy­ing force who tied the fam­i­ly togeth­er. Siblings would make peace with each oth­er out of respect for her, and the peace has last­ed.

I’m not sad. I was already sad when I was in Hong Kong last year, on the day I left her. Back then, I made my peace, nev­er expect­ing to have the chance to see her again. Instead, I’m glad to have been able to let her know how much she meant to me (even though I was­n’t sure if she remem­bered, with the sever­i­ty of her Alzheimer’s), to hear her tell her sto­ry in her own words, and to cap­ture her voice and char­ac­ter on video.

When I see her smil­ing and hear her voice, I see an inno­cence about her I was­n’t used to see­ing. She was always a strong, classy lady.

  1. The excep­tions being my dad and Darren’s dad, who were fly­ing out yes­ter­day and next week respec­tive­ly, until they heard the news. They’re chang­ing flight plans for the funer­al. []

Graveyard of Aphids

Thumbnail: Flowering cabbage

At some point, the flow­er­ing cab­bage plant Heather G gave me start­ed to shed. The top leaves remained sup­ple and fresh, while the bot­tom leaves would dry up and fall off. I could­n’t fig­ure out why. I liked the look any­way, to see this plant grow­ing out of the decay it cast around itself, so I did­n’t wor­ry too much.

I was­n’t used to hav­ing a plant that was so alive. It had a pun­gent smell, and I noticed a few insects on it here and there. I thought the insects were a good thing, cause that meant the plant was healthy enough to sup­port oth­er life.

Continue read­ing “Graveyard of Aphids”…

Lye and Vinegar

(Just like old times, eh?)

Tyler licks his lips until they’re gleam­ing wet. He takes Jack’s hands and KISSES the back of it.

I fig­ured it out.

I had too much want.

The sali­va shines in the shape of the kiss. Tyler pours a bit of the flaked lye onto Jack’s hand.

I start­ed out self­less­ly — doing with­out expect­ing, giv­ing not to receive, work­ing not for reward1 — because all I want­ed was to live in the moment, to expe­ri­ence as much as I could while it last­ed. Eventually, that turned into a desire, a belief that I could­n’t live with­out what (or whom) I want­ed.

One could call it love.

The old me would have blamed myself for falling into that trap, but I’ve since rec­og­nized that I’m human. That I’m prone to falling, espe­cial­ly when I’m so amorous­ly intox­i­cat­ed.

Jack’s whole body JERKS. Tyler holds tight to Jack’s hand and arm. Tears well in Jack’s eyes; his face tight­ens.

Now that I’m able to stand back and rec­og­nize my long­ing, and I can also see how much that long­ing that was start­ing to tear me down.

It’s like in Fight Club, when Tyler Durden is about to pour lye on Jack’s hand. Jack already knows he’s going to die; it’s an unde­ni­able real­i­ty we all come to real­ize as we grow out of child­hood, yet are rarely forced to deal with (or even embrace). For Jack, that real­i­ty does­n’t tru­ly sink in until he’s faced with the chem­i­cal burn on his body.

Jack, snap­ping back, tries to jerk his hand away. Tyler keeps hold of it and their arms KNOCK UTENSILS off the table.

I was told it was over before it start­ed, but that real­i­ty did­n’t sink in until recent­ly. It’s tak­en this long because I dared to dream of some­thing greater, and a large part of me did­n’t want to give up the won­der­ful mem­o­ries. Unfortunately, those mem­o­ries are mixed and insep­a­ra­ble from every­thing else that’s been hold­ing me back. The fact that I think too much does­n’t help either.

At some point, I real­ized that I sim­ply had to let go. Truly let go.

Tyler final­ly says to Jack:

Listen, you can run water over your hand and make it worse or, look at me, or you can use vine­gar and neu­tral­ize the burn. First you have to give up, first you have to know — not fear — know — that some­day you’re gonna die.

I used to think I had lost some­thing spe­cial, but now I have no desires and noth­ing left to lose. It’s like I’m start­ing back where I was two years ago, which real­ly was­n’t a bad place to be. The world is final­ly lucid and clear.

Now I know, and it feels like hap­pi­ness.

Congratulations. You’re a step clos­er to hit­ting bot­tom.

  1. Readers of the Tao Te Ching will rec­og­nize this lan­guage. There’s so much of this Taoist idea of para­dox and con­tra­dic­tion in Fight Club. []