The Farewell

I saw you lying there, helpless. Your hair was white. You were awfully way smaller than you used to be: only bones wrapped in a thin layer of wrinkled skin. You had never been fat despite a hint of beer tummy (you never drank beer, though, as far as I remember). At times you made gestures, uncontrollably. The doctor said you were unconscious, yet you let out a cry of pain. It hurts me to see you like that. I softly stroked your arm, your leg, while whispering words of encouragement. I wasn’t sure you heard me. I didn’t even have tears by then, unlike some of the other girls. But I was torn apart inside.

You don’t know how much I cursed myself for not calling you when I heard you had been ill. My (un)famed ignorance took the best of me as usual, taking it for granted that you were “just too tired of work”.

But it was work indeed that consumed you. Your doctors apparently had warned you to take things slowly since your body – your liver, in particular – had not functioned properly. Some say you hated going to doctors (and you didn’t exactly trust them). So of course you didn’t get the regular general check up as strongly advised by your American physician. I must say I admire your wife greatly, for her strength all this time.

The last time we hung out together in a group lunch was exactly the last time we met prior to this. You looked very normal. It was only a few months ago. Surely at that time the cancer had been spreading throughout your body, and YOU.KNEW.THAT.

Damn you for not even hinting about that! Damn you for hiding it! What was wrong with you???? You were not supposed to work even slightly hard (and YOU.KNEW.THAT) yet you stayed at the office until very late, traveled a lot, attended all those meetings! Were you trying to get the posthumous promotion aka kenaikan pangkat anumerta? Did you think our big boss care about that? I’m not sure he even knows your name!

Funny, being a workaholic, you actually like outdoor activities. I envied you once for being able to explore those cute East Coast towns during weekends, since I felt my days off had been practically robbed by the series of events I had to attend thanks to my line of work. But you and your wife took me to one of your ‘Civil War pilgrimage’ (you were crazy about the Civil War period) and I had a great time. Oh, and if it hadn’t been you, I wouldn’t have visited the first colony across the Harper’s Ferry. Thank you for sharing that with me. You would enthusiastically show off your Civil War scrapbook to anyone who would listen to you. (Well, we had to as we were served lunch in your apartment! :)).

Remember when you, Renata, Wawan, and I went to the Wolf Barn for Jewel’s show straightly from the office? That was our first time going there, none of us made a research before, so it shouldn’t have been surprising that we were salah kostum. Everyone else but us wore casual outfit, shorts and T-shirts and jeans, and carried blankets or folding chairs and baskets with sandwiches and wine. We were quite lucky that I (ahem) happened to bring a sheet of plastic tablecloth. I’m sure we looked like morons: working suit clad people sitting on a plastic sheet, watching Jewel performing on an outdoor stage.

I had to thank you too, in particular, for helping me finding a right place for the ASEAN picnic. That was a perfect spot, at the bank of a small lake. ASEAN people had a great time together in DC, and disputes in their own respective territories. Can we call it the sweet irony?

A couple of years working together with you, in combination with genuine friendship all along, are irreplaceable. While praying for you, I’m thinking of those times. I pray that God release you from your pain, and I wish that it also means seeing you around for more years to come. Yes, your cancer is in stadium 4, but God is more powerful than those cells He creates.

But if He decides to call you home, I can only say goodbye, wish you a peaceful trip to Heaven, and thank Him for letting me know you and befriend you. Love you, buddy.

Addendum: I got the news that you left this morning. Zai jian, mon ami. May you rest in peace.