Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A matter of life and death

I'm fortunate enough to still have close friends from my childhood and teens. We have grown up together, grown apart at some point and grown closer again at another point. And now as we are all firmly labelled to be "in our 30s", we're growing old together.

Our conversation topics, our life focus, our interactions - they change with the passage of time. I can still vaguely remember kiddish things we talked about years ago. And sharing our love stories, both bitter and sweet. And talking about the intricacies of making babies. And taking the cue from an old TV ad, I once mentioned that at some point, we'll be discussing how to prevent breast cancer. But before that last bit, there is just one more thing.

This morning, I woke up to some bad news. A good friend just lost his mum after a long battle.

I guess it's inevitable. At some point, we'll have to talk about death.

Somehow, death doesn't seem very near when grandparents pass away. Sure, we're sad, but at 80 plus, many of them would have had a full life and enjoyed the company of bouncy grandkids. And at that kind of age, even if we don't say it, we expect them to go any time and we're at peace so long as they go peacefully.

The reality may be much harder to grasp when our parents pass away prematurely before they reach a ripe old age like their parents before them. Many of them may still be working or barely retired. With so many of us youngsters getting married and having kids later, many of them parents are still waiting for their first grandkid. Yet, some of them never live to enjoy life after retirement, life with grandkids running about them. We can only hope that they don't suffer in their last hours.

At some point, we ourselves will also be confronted with our own mortality.

Life can so fragile. One moment, I'm fine; the next? I don't know. We can only treasure it and live it well, treasure our loved ones and leave no regrets.

I have no idea what happens after death. Maybe nothing. But I'm not afraid of dying. I'm just afraid of dying suddenly and painfully. I need to make sure my dependents will be well taken care of after I'm gone. I need to make sure I don't burden them with medical bills. I first thought about this last year, when I had that abnormal PAP smear result. That wouldn't result in sudden death but it jolted me into thinking about what would happen if I were to go suddenly and prematurely. I don't know why but I thought about this again a couple of weeks ago. I think I should do a stock-take of my stuff and, despite not having a lot, make sure I have both a last will and a living will that spell out my wishes clearly.

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