"And then I realized: with death, came strength." An idea still a little far fetched for my parents.
Searching for closure.
At the very beginning, I already knew the pressure would be on me to take care of just about everybody in the family. The first reaction I got from friends is that "oh, you should let your sadness run and don't take too much pressure." The first reaction I got from family friends is that "you should never be sad in front of your parents. YOU are the the one who will take care of them." The first reaction I got from relatives is that "you need to take care of James." Subsequent reactions usually consist of this: take care of you mom, your dad, and especially your brother. Anybody thought of taking care of ME!? Hardly.
Who said life would be fair? It isn't. So shut up and suck it up.
For a long while, I could not forgive myself for not talking to Alan more. I spoke with him the night before. He told me he was going to take his own life. I asked him why, he said he wasn't happy. I suggested many things for him to do, to see if that would make him happy. He said no to all of it. I told him, Alan, you know I love you very much, but this is your life and you must make your choices and live with the consequences. I will support everything you do. What I meant was choices IN life. Not choices BETWEEN life and death. The thought that I had encouraged him to make a choice and die (live) with the consequences just haunted me over and over.
I did not seemingly have enough time to grief when I got back to Hong Kong. The next morning (I arrived Friday night) we went to the funeral home to get the procedures done. And then I met with a family friend who would be in charge of some of the things we wanted to do in the funeral. That's when the idea for a booklet came out. And so with my mind still rumbling through chaos and body tired, I launched into editing this whole booklet thing while taking care of business in the funeral home. Just super tired.
My first break. I met up with Sharon, my ex-girlfriend from New York city. She's heading to Stanford at night and it would be sort of my last chance to see her for the next year or so. The booklet was almost set (or so I thought) and I've settled everything for the funeral home. Anyway, I finally got a chance to organize my thoughts and then talk to her about it. I have to say that while all my girlfriends have understood me exceptionally well, Sharon was the best cus she's the most mature. Anyway, after organizing my mind and talking to her, I think I found a solution for myself. Some call it "cheating oneself"... I don't know, maybe I am, maybe I am not. I am trying to find out, for my own sake, why Alan chose this course. I fancied that by understanding why, I could find a solution for my family and myself, as we are all filled with guilty feelings. On top of that, I wish that my 'solution' is not 'cheating oneself.' I cannot elaborate here. Words cannot do justice. Sorry.
I was with Alan before anyone else saw him. I stood there and looked. Tears staying in. There is a sense of relief. It's difficult to describe, but I truly believe that he is now a happier person, wherever he is (or is not). The night went on. I don't like this 3 hour gather. It is merely a way to numb people's minds. You feel very sad when you bow, very sad when you see Alan, very sad when you INITIALLY sit down. Then you are in the room for a few more minutes, and you start chatting with others. Either about Alan or among friends. And the feeling of normal life begins to fade IN. Your feelings are numb and you forget that you are here because of somebody's death. At the same time, you do remember you are there for somebody. But the feeling is numbed. I don't like this process. On the other hand, I agree with the process. In this way, many can move on with life. I cannot.
After everybody left, I stayed for another few minutes. Went to take a look at Alan and talk to him a bit. Cried hard and silently, Kwun, thanks for waiting for me. I know you are worried. But that was really the moment where I spoke my mind to Alan and got a response from him. And then I know I will be okay and I can take all the pressure and take care of my family and myself. I got closure and I said goodbye. =) I once asked a friend this question: if you wonder whether you will burst or not, does that mean you will NOT because you are already calculating the effects? For the last few days, I always wondered when whether I will burst or not. I wondered if I will burst after all is settled and then I have this moment where I have nothing to do but to think about Alan. That night, after saying goodbye, I know I will NEVER burst. I will not. I will take care of everybody as long as I am physically able.