I don't normally portray myself as an extraordinarily emotional person, but I am wildly emotive at times. It comes from processing words, actions and emotions and deconstructing them, both as a writer and an actor. Which is why I tend to take myself out from highly charged situations, because they affect me immensely. Internally, at least.
And so grief.
My uncles, non-emotional and stoic, on the outside at least. I do not know how they feel. One aunt, speaking pragmatically, but breaking into tears on occasion, especially grateful that God answered her prayer that she would be around for the end. Another aunt, cleaning compulsively to keep herself busy, I guess, whilst worrying that my late grandfather does not have socks and proper shoes to wear in the coffin. My dad, preaching until the end, and now arranging to come back as soon as he can. It's a long weekend. Flights are full, buses are filled, roads are clogged.
It is Merdeka Day. Freedom.
And what is death but freedom of the soul from the chains that bind it to an ailing, decaying body? What is death but the liberation of a life into the arms of a loving Father?
I do not know what I feel.
There has long been a disconnect between my head and my heart, in my constant effort to stay stable, strong, bold, dependable. My emotions are too strong and too easily swayed by the feelings of others so I have learnt to shunt them aside, lock them in privacy, until I need them for a piece, or to comfort someone. I do not know how to comfort myself because I do not know if I grieve.
I did not know my grandfather well. He was always aloof. Quiet. Stoic. Dependable. I remember oranges and chocolates, the staples of visits to his house. I remember his lovingly tended garden and his bonsais, and how his green thumb did not transfer to my father. I remember him growing old and worrying about my grandmother because of her dementia.
My grandmother smiled and said Kam sia Chu (thank you God) when my grandfather breathed his last, and again when my aunt told her the news repeatedly to make sure she understood. She understands. She told my aunt that he's gone home to heaven.
Funny. We once thought that she would go first.
I have now lost both my grandfathers. Apparently the women are the long-lived ones in my family. I suppose that is good, for me personally, that is. This is the first time I have been at a death bed. When my maternal grandfather died, I was at my aunt's in Kuala Lumpur, planning to take a flight home the next day after a two week conference and holiday in Hong Kong. Instead, I was woken up at 5am with the news and my uncle drove us all home.
I have written too much. I do that on occasion, trying to figure out what I feel and why.
I do not think I feel grief. I did not know him well enough.
I do not think I feel loss. I know we will meet again when God calls us all home and maybe then I will listen to the full story of his life and how he punctuated his silences with living.
I think what I feel is a sense of change. The feeling that one more thing that once anchored me to a community, my family, has changed in its nature and maybe the bonds that tie us may look different in the future. I don't know if it will be stronger or weaker, just that it will be different.
And maybe that is what I really feel.
Slightly more adrift than I usually am.