Last December before leaving for Singapore for my usual annual birthday get away, me and my old good friend made a day trip to Klang. Our destination was Fairy Memorial Park. It was the anniversary of the demise of my late boyfriend, Patrick. I was there to do my yearly visit to see him at his resting place at the columbarium. It has been 5 years now and yet I still remember that very day.
It was 2003, my loving brother and few friends had organised a big surprise birthday bash for me. All of my friends were invited to it at a Turkish restaurant. Being Mr. Busybody myself, I knew all about it. I was all excited yet had to hide my excitement as it was a surprise.
The only problem was that my boyfriend, Patrick, was hospitalised then and no one knew about it. He was the type who did want to trouble anyone which, I respected his stand and understood him because if I was hospitalise myself I would have done the same thing.
On the day of my birthday, before I left for the hospital, he wanted me to bring the shaving kit. Rushing to the hospital that morning, I had totally forgotten to bring them to the hospital. He was so furious because this that we broke into an argument. I told him that it so irrelevant to shave because no one was going to visit him anyway. He was so insisting of a clean shave that day that I had to go down to the sundry shop at the hospital to buy them. When I went back up to him, I felt the guilt and helped to shave him.
After the argument, I told him of the surprise birthday party. He told me to enjoy myself that night and he asked me to create an excuse for him for not coming to the party and extend his love to everyone. That night, my birthday surprise bash turned out to more that I have expected. Almost all of my friends came but my thought was with Patrick who was in the hospital. I had to put up a happy façade for everyone that night.
At the party, my brother told me that one of the chefs at the restaurant knew how to do a reading from coffee residue. I was all excited about this and insisted that he was to do mine. The chef was called to our private party area and immediately after I ordered for my Turkish coffee. After following his instructions of how to drink the coffee, he read my future. Of many that he told me, one of the thing that I remembered was that he predicted that I had to go through a huge thing. I asked him if it was a bad or good thing and his answer was that it was not bad to me personally but it has a big effect on me. I don’t understand what that meant and I wanted him to clarify further but our communication was limited because of the language barrier and furthermore there were also others of my friends wanted their future read.
The following day, I was about to leave for the hospital around noon when I got a call from Patrick. He told me that he was being discharged and he sounded like he was full of life. His family was with him and he was going to stay with his family to recuperate. He told me not to come that day and to take a day rest because he knew that I had a late night the night before. I was fine with it and I told him that I will visit him at his family house the next day after my dim sum birthday brunch with my ex-collage mates from London.
Knowing that Patrick was discharged of the hospital, I managed to have a great time at my birthday dim sum brunch the next day. As we were leaving, I received a call from Patrick’s brother. He told me that Patrick was delirious and half conscious. Patrick was seeing vision of people waving at him across the river. His brother was explaining to me that that was a Chinese sign of near death vision. I obviously panicked and rushed straight away to Klang straight after.
Upon arriving to his family house, I found Patrick was indeed delirious. He was half conscious and was talking in Chinese to me. I had to shake him out of it and reminded him over and over again that he needed to speak to me in English or Malay. It took him a long while to gain conscious and to realise that I was actually there next him.
After he gained his conscious, I told him that he was delirious and he told me that he was feeling better. I then asked if he was hungry. He said yes and I called for his sister to bring out his food. The sister was in tears when she brought in the food. I had to take the tray from her and fed Patrick myself. After feeding him, Patrick wanted to go the toilet. With the help of his older brother, we carried him to the toilet and I cleaned him after because he was too weak to do it himself. I then gave him a body wipe and a change of clothing.
When we brought him back to his bed, with great effort he tried to be himself again. We chatted for a while and he then realised that it was already late at night. He told me that I should leave soon because it would be too late to travel as I was not driving. I did tell him earlier that I needed to go back home to get my change of clothing if I were to stay there until he was well. As usual he was more concerned about me than about himself. I told him that he needed his rest and was not to worry about me. I explained to him that I will leave soon after he has gone to sleep. He was nearly dozing off when I gave him a hug, kissed him and whispered to his ear that I love him. Immediately after that he closed his eyes and went to sleep with a smile. He looked so peaceful in his deep sleep.
His brother was sending me to the train station but decided to buy me dinner before I leave. We went to a stall not far away from the station. Just as we sat down and ordered our food, his brother received a call from his wife. She told us that Patrick was having problem breathing in his sleep and his youngest brother was on the other line calling for the ambulance. We immediately left the stall. Soon after we left, we received another call from the wife telling us to wait for the ambulance at the main road as they were not able to find the address. We waited and waited with anxiety. I was already panicking with a mix feeling of anger waiting for the bloody ambulance. Time did tick slowly when you have an anxiety attack. I even heard my heart beating so loudly because of that. We got another call from the house telling us that the ambulance had arrived. We rushed backed to the house. As soon as we arrived, I ran out of the car into the house. As I entered the room, the paramedic stood beside Patrick’s bed and he was slowly removing things from Patrick’s body while indicating through his body language that he was not able to do anything else for Patrick. A bust of anger came within me, I screaming at the Paramedic and blaming him for losing his way to the house was the cause of this. The paramedic did nothing and he only walked away. I was still not happy and was calling him names while running after him but thankfully Patrick’s family pulled me back. I then realised that I had left my poor Patrick alone. I ran back to his bedside with tears bursting from my eyes and there he was, my lifeless Patrick. My poor darling Patrick was dead.
In his open casket, Patrick had a smile and he looked serene with his clean shave. I still wonder if he knew that he was passing on that he had insisted on the shave on his last day at the hospital. Many of our friends who came told me that he looked peaceful. As for the crematory ceremony, the family was so thoughtful to include me as part of the family in the all the ceremony. They even asked me to choose his final resting place at the columbarium in the memorial park.
Back at home, where I had spent 5 wonderful years with Patrick, for many nights I had to cry to myself before I went to sleep. Every little thing reminded of Patrick. I felt alone even thought my friends were around me. Probably this was what the coffee fortune teller was trying to telling me about, a huge thing that I needed to go through was the passing of Patrick.
Today, I have managed to do a closure for this chapter of my life but not completely. Till today I felt the guilt of celebrating my birthday in a grand scale because it reminds me this chapter of my life. That was why I would prefer to run away to somewhere far on my birthday. I do pray that one day I can finally do a proper closure on this chapter and start another new wonderful chapter of my colourful life.