Sunday, October 09, 2011

Goodbye Aunty Kook

There are times when only weeks or months later do you only realise the importance of that little impromptu act/step taken. Today's post will be about just such an event.

Three weekends ago, on the 17th of September 2011, we received a call from an ex-neighbour Aunty Molly inviting us to visit Aunty Kook (our ex-neighbour) in Hospital Sungai Buloh. We had heard a week before that that Aunty Kook had been admitted into hospital for about a month. Nobody knew she was in hospital until another ex-neighbour tried contacting her to pass a wedding invitation card to her family. We had been delaying the visit for many days because we had no idea how to get the the hospital.

Anyway, we visited Aunty Kook on that Sunday, thanks to Aunty Molly's son - who drove us there. When we reached the ward, Uncle Michael (Aunty Kook's husband) was there and he briefly took us through the history of events. She had fainted while grocery shopping and was admitted to a private hospital before being transferred to Hospital Sungai Buloh. The doctors had said that she had a liver infection, which had spread to her kidneys and lungs. He told us that she was scheduled for an operation later that week and that there was nothing to worry about if the procedure went well.

We did not get to talk to Aunty Kook that day because she was in a drug-induced unconscious state, due to the insertion of a feeding tube through her oral cavity into her gastrointestinal tract. If she was conscious, she would've been constantly agitated from the discomfort of the foreign object. So we left without knowing whether she knew we were there or not.

Yesterday, after coming back from helping out at BioKids, mum told me that Aunty Kook had passed away in the morning. I was shocked. Uncle Michael had been so sure she was going to be alright, that I had preconditioned my mind to think only of the best scenario too. The news could not sink into my mind.

Aunty Kook had been a family friend even before I was born. I remember following mum to her house many times, even years after we had moved away to Shah Alam. And although we met her less often in later years, we would definitely meet her during Chinese New Year.

Unfortunately in the past two years, the ex-neighbours Chinese New Year gatherings had petered away. Aunty Kook had also moved to Subang Permai, which caused a sort of "disconnection" due to the distance and unfamiliarity of the area. The last time that I recall we had met her was during Mr & Mrs Chow's wedding anniversary late last year. Aunty Kook had been perfectly well and constantly smiling then. That was the happy occasion when everyone was around.

Today we attended Aunty Kook's wake. Initially, I was not included into the transport arrangement to attend the wake, but at the last minute LK and I decided we should go, because we SHOULD. We abstained from lighting the joss sticks but walked around the casket to pay respect to the dead. I must admit that I didn't look into the coffin, as I already had my last image of her in the hospital in my mind. I know it's a cowardly act but I don't know why I did it. This thought and the afterlife had been turning in my mind eversince.

Death always seems to take me by surprise. I guess this applied to almost everyone else too. But it really brings into perspective the reality of life - that one day each of us will face the same fate. When? That can only be found in the Book of Life. Aunty Kook's passing has taught us to look up our old friends from time to time. Don't postpone a long-overdue meetup because you'd never know what's going to happen in the near future. This applies for both the young and old. Because when someone is gone, there is nothing else that we can do but regret. And regret will not get us anywhere. Then, only time will fade the regret that we hold on to.

Dear Aunty Kook, RIP.

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