It has been an exhausting week for me because my grandfather passed away and my family had to be at the 5-day funeral everyday. Ahgong passed away last Sunday morning (around midnight) so we had to rush to the wake in the morning. My parents didn't wake Rui and me up because they wanted us to get more sleep. So... when I woke up the next morning, my mum came in and told us "Ah gong passed away during midnight... Get dressed" (in chinese). I was half shocked because we all knew this was coming... He was a strong man because he managed to live beyond the doctors' expectations... He lived more than 4 months longer than the doctors had predicted.
His death made me think a lot about life/and death. About a week before he passed away, my dad was talking to my mum in the car and I overhead their conversation. He was telling my mum how sad it was to see ahgong placed on a ventilator, getting the oxygen he needed but unable to move or speak much. I knew my uncles, including my dad, were trying to do all they could to prolong my grandfather's life. Looking at him breathing so hard on the hospital bed was not the hardest part for me. It was when he said he wanted to go home which broke my heart the most. If you know what it means, maybe you'll get how I'm feeling right now.
I'm starting to wonder whether being alive but having your quality of life severely damaged because of conditions such as breathlessness is worth it. You're barely alive. Having difficulties doing the simplest thing one can do- to breathe. And I wouldn't want to imagine having to face the dilemma that my dad and his siblings faced- Keep this life going? Or let it go?
A lot of friends asked me, "Were you very close to him?" In all honesty, no, I've never been close to him in these 16 years of my life. But I don't think that's a valid enough reason to not feel for someone who has given me a life. I'm naturally an emotional person so... I can't deny that this has been a great deal for me even though I've never felt a bond with him before he got diagnosed with cancer. I wouldn't try to challenge myself and ask myself "WHY ARE YOU FEELING SO SAD, JINGWEN?" and come up with stupid reasons like "he didn't make much of an impact in your life anyway" just to try to make myself feel better. I don't need to have clear reasons as to why I'm feeling sad. This time I won't try to seek ways to feel happy again. If I'm sad, I just am. I know happier days will come some day :) I'm still positive but I guess I can be positive yet sad at the same time. (i hope this makes sense)
And something relevant that was shared to us by Mrs Soh during LA:
(from the book "One Man's View of the World" by Lee Kuan Yew)
Life is better than death. But death comes eventually to everyone. It is something which many in their prime may prefer not to think about. But at 89, I see no point in avoiding the question. What concerns me is: How do I go? Will the end come swiftly, with a stroke in one of the coronary arteries? Or will it be a stroke in the mind that lays me out in bed for months, semi-comatose? Of the two, I prefer the quick one.
Some time back, I had an Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) done which says that if I have to be fed by a tube, and it is unlikely that I would ever be able to recover and walk about, my doctors are to remove the tube and allow me to make a quick exit. I had it signed by a lawyer friend and a doctor.
If you do not sign one, they do everything possible to prevent the inevitable. I have seen this in so many cases. My brother-in-law on my wife’s side, Yong Nyuk Lin, had a tube. He was at home, and his wife was lying in bed, also in a poor shape. His mind was becoming blank. He is dead now. But they kept him going for a few years. What is the point of that? Quite often, the doctors and relatives of the patient believe they should keep life going. I do not agree. There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach. In such cases, one is little more than a body.