Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Miss You

"After all, that's what most of us do when we lose someone in our family - especially if the loss is unexpected.  We're shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward.  We reflect on the past.   Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder.  Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us?  Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?" -- Barack Obama, Tucson Speech



Sister: and there's a sad news... god mother just passed away
Me: WHAT? WHEN? WHAT HAPPENED? WTF?

God I wish my family can be a bit more sensitive when relaying sad news to me sometimes.

I slide from my sitting position into a lying position on my bed. Memories flood my mind. Good memories. Happy memories.

And so many fucking regrets.

I did not shed a tear, nor did I dwell in the grief. She lives in a tiny house made of the basic of bricks and cement. She couldn't afford to have a toilet that flushes - so you have to scoop water off a huge water container and flush the water down with a bucket. She became my god mother when I was young, and through her, I learned love, humility and I gained a loving god brother.

She was very poor, but whenever I visit her, she'd make sure that I have only the best. She did play favouritism, favouring me over my siblings but I'm not complaining. She'd buy me my favourite food, buy me toys or gifts and if she can't afford to buy anything, she'd make or bake me things. Her love was boundless and unconditional. And I lie in bed feeling a hole in my heart. If she have waited another 2 weeks, I'd have been back to see her for the last time, and to give her a kiss and a big hug, and to give her all the love, respect, admiration and appreciation that I have for her.

But alas, I am lying here in my bed, all by myself in a land 3000 miles away, feeling betrayed that she was stolen from my life. Another love gone. And I shed a tear writing this, feeling the cold, dark, deep hole left in me.


And as I write this, 75% of Queensland is under water. 15 lives lost and more than 50 still missing. That's 2x the size of Texas and 5x the size of UK. I've been waking early every morning co-ordinating volunteers for the peak volunteering organisation of the state and have been registering volunteers online. 10,000 volunteers registered and counting. I've set up an online database, liaised with the police and council and we're ready to roster and dispatch these volunteers once the water has subsided.

The sad news aren't helping though. Over 300 have died in Brazil's flood, and up to 40 lives claimed in the Philippines' flood. The flash flood in Toowoomba has claimed the life of a four year old, and a 13 year-old boy died after telling the rescuer to save his younger brother first, and he was swept away by the current.

Clinton is okay. Mr Crush is okay. So are most of my friends, except one. She's safe but her house went under, but I promised her I'll provide her meals for a week and wash, scrub and clean for her when the water recede.


"So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order." -- Barack Obama

But live goes on.

I went out for a walk, walking past some parts of the flood and the highway, but the entire city is closed down - police blocking people from entering the city. People walking about, some smiling, some laughing and some making the most of the situation, playing cricket in the middle of the highway. And I smiled. A stranger approached me and we chatted, and we both smiled. We smiled for the all those who were saved and are safe, we smiled for all those whose lives were inspired by the tragedy to be a better person, we smiled at all the unsung heroes, and we smiled at all those working around the clock looking for the missing, attending to those who lost their loved ones, making sure everyone's safe and I smiled because Clinton has evacuated and is very dry and safe. I grive for what I have lost, what we have lost, but I smile at what we could all do to turn this around, our potentials and capabilities to come out of these tragedies stronger and better than we were.

I smiled. And then I started heading home.

"We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others." -- Barack Obama

I love you, yes, you reading this. I love you each and everyone of you.

And I miss ... you.

Quotes taken from the Tucson speech, at the Arizona Memorial.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Heroic Act

We grabbed ice-cream and sat in a circle on King George Square. The wind was blowing and it was a cool 16 degrees or 61F for the Americans. These 2 girls sitting across me, speaking of their struggles and their past experiences. The pain and shame they are going through, the intimidating police reports they have to make. One's confronting her demon of being sexually assaulted by a trusted neighbour, and the other, a physical abuse by his stepdad.


As I listen to their stories and as they share with each other their experiences, I felt like the odd one out, but that's a good thing. A cold gust of wind hits my face and all that I could think of is the large amount of respect, admiration and love I have for these two girls. I cannot understand what they're going through but them sharing their stories and experiences, as I quietly witness and listen, gives me a sense of hope and humanity, a sense of pride and gratefulness.

I've known them for a year, and we met at an event organised by an organisation that we're all volunteering for. As we ended the night and before we parted ways, I went and gave them both each a tight hug and as I walked towards the bus stop at the end of the long hallway, I think about all the people in the world that's suffering in silence and pain, feeling alone and lonely because of their past. I count myself lucky.

I came home to a Facebook message from a name I find familiar. I clicked on his profile and its D, and the message read, "Hi Aaron, are you coming to BNO this week? Hope to see you there."


I beamed until I almost cried. D was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and finds it challenging to socialise. He comes to an event, BNO, organised by one of my best friends where I try to attend and help around when I can. BNO is a music/dance social event for all young people, and it consists of an almost equal mixture of children with mental and physical disabilities and those without dis/abilities. The idea is to create an event that removes all the barriers for everyone to participate equally regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, dis/abilities and religion. I met D about 7 months ago, and three months later, when I returned to the event, he remembered my name!

When the event is on, he usually hides behind a tree outside the hall. He tries really hard to say hi to people, and to mix around, albeit for only a few seconds every time. His speech impairment makes him self-conscious, and his ASD makes him protective of his personal space, but him making a contact although through Facebook makes me beam like a kid in a candy store. I wrote him a long reply, promising him that I'll be there, and when I got there, he was as usual, behind the tree. I asked permission to come to give him a hug, he took 5 seconds to say yes. We exchanged hug, a few words and then he looked away, not once did he gave me eye-contact, but I know that's a great achievement.

Sometimes, we travel through out lives admiring the big heroes who gets all the name, but we forget these heroic acts in every individual's lives who are trying their best to fight their struggles and the status quo. We forget that its these courageous acts that makes this world goes round, and what makes life so special. And I send my love, admiration and respect to you, for whatever that you're fighting for and against at the moment. Know that these fights, although difficult, is for a better, brighter future and that I am thinking of you and wishing you well.
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