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. []