At 7 pm, my mother was pronounced dead. I asked to pass sometime with my mother’s body, before it had to be removed from the bed, to make way for the next patient. Some of my relatives and my mother’s friends had come to visit my mother that afternoon and they too witnessed the last hours of my mother’s life. Everyone in the room was filled with emotions of their own. What were their thoughts of her death?
It was impossible, at that time, for me to apprehend the suddenness of her passing. I was confronted with relentless questioning (in silence). What is the meaning of life when one has also to die? Does this paradox of life make life meaningless? How am I going to deal with the void that she has left me? What is the meaning of absence in one’s daily life? Who will look out for me now? Who will remember me as I was? Who will know what happens to me now? Where will I be from? Who can I go home to tonight? Et cetera, et cetera.
That night, I held on to my mother’s cold right hand, for as long as I could. Later, the nurses unplugged all the medical attachments on her; cleaned her body and then wrapped her up in white cloth, crisscrossed with white strings. When the job was done, we had a last look at my mother’s pale, wounded and warned out face. She appeared to have had enough of her last existence and cannot bear to suffer it for one more moment and was happy to depart. But, where will she be going to pass time tonight?
Before I went into the hospital for my heart surgery, I wrote down some of my thoughts and my last wishes. I got my son and daughter to sit down with me, a few days before, and told them what I had written for them. Painfully, and hardly able to hold back my tears, I read it to them in Chinese hakka.
I have been a tailor for 80 years and it had feed me and my children. I do not have many worldly possessions but whatever I have, will go to the both of you. If I die, give me a simple funeral. My coffin should not exceed RM2000; have two nights of Buddhist prayers; then cremate my body, and later, sprinkle my ashes into the Klang River.
With what ever money that remains, after my medical and funeral expenditure, I have a list of several places (temples, orphanages, old folk’s homes and schools) which I would like to continue to give donations to, for the next few years.
I came into this world empty handed and will leave in the same manner. I thank God for giving me two wonderful children and their family and their children. I am happily fulfilled. If it is God’s will that I have to depart, I will go in peace. All along, I have been praying to the Goddess of Mercy, thanking her for her compassion and benevolence. When I pass away, please do not grief; just remember that I have gone to a place nearer to Kuan Yin. Continue to remember me and that would be my consolation.
I wish all my relatives and friends, good health and a fulfilling life. Farewell forever.