I don’t usually do “emotional” but this is an exception.
This post is dedicated to my mom’s uncle-in-law. (I met him 4 years ago while visiting my mom’s aunt in Jakarta.) I still remember what he looked like – white-haired, kind-looking, wearing glasses and dressed in a striped button-up shirt. He always carried around with him his camera and an iPad (he loved taking photographs and editing; I remember him showing my family some stills of a dance festival – with a graceful performer wearing a fiery orange dress in front of a black backdrop. My granduncle-in-law added some visual effects to enhance the whole picture, it was phenomenal). So this granduncle behaved exactly the way he looked, he was a friendly, gentle creature. But he was also a little sarcastic and had a slightly know-it-all attitude. While we were waiting for the van to pick us up at the airport, he told me to drink more water because my skin was dry (and because I looked downright unpleasant. I was scowling – owing to the scorching, tourist-unfriendly weather and the unfamiliar touch of Indonesia.) My, my attitude was awfully immature. I transferred my glare from some innocent local onto him and just reacted badly to his statement, all because of my foul mood. That was the first regretful moment I had about him. Honestly, the next few days were a blur. I stayed at his house for a week and went with him to Bali and Borobudur. I was glued to The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series for the whole journey and barely paid attention to him. Even during the four-hour-long car rides I used them to drown in Up All Night and other songs from the same album. My whole vibe was so indifferent and not-there that I still feel ashamed of myself. I can’t really remember how the remaining days passed but soon enough I had to leave Jakarta for Hong Kong. I remember saying goodbye to this granduncle (he was editing photos on his computer). I thanked him for his hospitality while feeling guilt gnawing at my bones on the inside for my spoilt, bratty demeanour. (I was also guilty because he had been so nice throughout my stay.) My regret of not knowing him better and making the most out of the trip unsettled me for the rest of my journey home. But of course as time progresses, we tend to forget our guilt. Days, months and years passed – I just hear about this granduncle every now and then from my mom, who hears from my grandaunt. It was okay because I have decided once I finished my public examination this year, I would visit Indonesia in summer and patch things up with him. But fate had other plans. Early this month, I heard from my mom that my granduncle had cancer. It worsened quickly, right now it’s either at stage three or has even developed to stage four (because mom said he is going to leave soon). The worst thing is that my granduncle’s son was set to be married this May, yet his father is probably going to pass away in April. I keep questioning why fate can be so cruel, because I know my granduncle is (or was) a good man. Call me selfish, but I feel worse because I couldn’t repair my relationship with him before his demise (sorry I know he is still alive but you get what I mean). This is my greatest regret in life. I typed this out not just to get my feelings out of my system, but also to remind you all that treasuring the people around you, especially family, is so important. You may not always see eye to eye with them, you may have conflicts, but nothing is worse than missing the opportunity to reconcile with them before it is too late. So go figure things out, reflect. Don’t let yourself regret not knowing a relative well, or let the chance slip through your fingers. If you had made things right earlier, then you wouldn’t have to ask yourself the “what-if”s or say the “I would have if I had known”s. Granduncle-in-law, I just want you to know that I am sorry. And if you are given a second chance at life, I would be there to be your friend and your family.