Soon it will be the holidays
To many it’s the best days
Of their lives.
However, many are trying to survive
The dreaded holiday season
And grief is the main reason
Nobody knows how much we are hurting deep inside
We try our best to push these emotions aside
But yet we still end up crying
Because the bond we shared with our loved ones is undying
Tis the season to be jolly
So let’s try our best to be happy
24 December 2017.
With a crutch in one hand, I hopped my way to church as early as 10.30pm; to ensure that we will be able to secure a seat for the highly anticipated Midnight Christmas Mass. Soon, the pews were filled with people that including those “once a year Christmas Catholic” and “Sunday Catholics”.
After mass, as we met several other parishioners and exchanged Christmas greetings, several of them were curious to find out why I was walking around with a crutch in hand. But during this time, nobody asked anything about my sister. My sister looks perfectly fine. At that point of time, nobody would have guessed that she was battling stage 4 colon cancer.
And with that said, that was her last Christmas.
It was the last time that I pestered my sister nonstop; demanding her to let me know what she wants for Christmas presents. For several years, my sister had been eyeing on the Kindle Paperwhite. She always wanted an E-book, but at the same time she contemplated for the longest time ever. She knew that with the existence of an E-book, she would not read the books that were sitting happily on our bookshelves. Since amazon was having a promotion for free delivery to Singapore, I decided to be the best sister (I believe I was the best sister) and bought her the Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas.
That holiday season, was a special season for the two of us. As I was still on hospitalization leave, and she was on medical leave. We spent the bulk of the holiday season being couch potatoes and binge watching on drama. It was and will always be one of the most memorable holiday season. It was a simple but yet special Christmas for us.
I used to love Christmas.
As soon as I understood the meaning of Christmas, and that Christmas meant exchanging and receiving presents, I fell in love with the season of giving. Christmas was my favourite season; as a kid I remembered asking my parents to drive through Orchard road just to look and admire all the different mall decorations. I am that person that loves Christmas so much that my Christmas countdown would start in June.
With it being said that it’s my favourite season, I used to send Christmas cards by mail to my own family members. (You may think that I’m weird for doing that. haha).
Back in 2016, my sister’s panel of doctors felt that she was fit enough to return to work as the cancer cells were in remission. During the festive period, she was one of the few staff left in the office as several of her colleagues were on vacations. As such, I mailed out a Christmas card and sent it to her office. When the office mailman passed her the letter, she immediately texted me.
Recently while clearing her stuff, I found the card. She kept the card even though she had labelled me as “lame” for sending a Christmas card to her office and yet pretending it isn’t me.
It was a bittersweet moment as despite labelling me as “lame”, she couldn’t bear to throw the card away and kept it nicely.
It’s Christmas but yet it’s different
Malls were decorated, Christmas songs were being played everywhere; shops were filled with signages about Christmas sales. But yet the mood was different. Somehow, I didn’t had the mood to go Christmas shopping; my Christmas countdown only started the week before Christmas.
With the passing of my sister, it was just different. In the past, we would “threaten” each other that if the other party does not have a wish list, we would end up buying each other ridiculous items such as underwear.
2018: the first Christmas without my sister.
That year, I didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas. Everything about Christmas felt different. Within a year, my Christmas expenditure increased by doubled because we could no longer share presents for our parents. Within a year, the festive holidays ( including Chinese New Year) was never the same. It’s the second year without my sister; and up till today I would look back and watched the stupid and goofy videos we took back during Christmas 2017. As much as I wish I could avoid the emptiness during festive periods, life has to go on.
Life has to go on.
When my sister defeated cancer the first time, she got herself a commemorative tattoo to remind herself about the fragility of life
A year later when the relapse happened, we ended up getting matching tattoos. We did not plan nor did we had it done together. Somehow or rather, maybe it’s the sisters’ telepathy that we shared that we ended up with matching tattoos.
It was a symbol – a semi colon tattoo.
That’s right, a semi colon tattoo. A semi colon represents a sentence that the author could have ended, but chose not to. It is symbolic to that of our lives, and how we have chosen to not give up and to remember that life has to go on.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not encouraging anybody to get inked. Instead I wanted to share that even though festive seasons have become a dreaded season; life has to go on.
Festivities are the most painful part of the grieving process, as we embrace the emptiness and silence during this period.
As much as we struggle to go on with life; we need to constantly remind ourselves that our we are not alone in this. Perhaps our deceased loved ones do misses us too.
“If you get there before I do, don’t give up on me. I’ll meet you when my chores are through
I don’t know how long I’ll be. But I’m not gonna let you down, darling wait and see
And between now and then, ’til I see you again
I’ll be loving you, Love, me”
It’s a season of giving
Sometimes the best gift, is just being there for your loved ones and friends.
During this holiday season, let’s take a step back from all the festivities and start caring more for our loved ones and friends.
We might not be able to understand what our friends are going through, but let’s not be too quick to judge if we see someone bursting out in tears during Christmas dinners or Christmas services.
Let’s try to show some tender loving care towards them and help them get through this festive period. Life is short, so be nice to everyone (not only to those that are grieving); as you never know when it’ll be their last Christmas.
Trust me, they (people that are grieving) are really trying their best to not behave like “The Grinch that stole Christmas”.
And the countdown to Christmas begins now, less than 10 days to Christmas