Friends come and go. And sometimes, even the best ones go, never to return again. In this heartfelt story about the bonds of friendship, Benazir Japiril recounts the moments surrounding the loss of someone dear in memory of a love that has remained long after the body has decayed.
Edna Buchanan once said:
Friends are the family we choose for ourselves
And so it was on the 20th of August 2009 when I exactly understood the meaning of friendship. When I understood the importance of telling my friends how much I love them. When I understood the pain of losing a friend forever.
It was 9.21 am. My phone vibrated and I received a message from one of my best friends, Siti: “Si Yuo accident. Coma.” Then Kevin, another best friend, called and told me that Yuo was going through an emergency operation. Knowing that a friend of mine was involved in an accident – one close to me since childhood – was just too much. Tears rolled down my cheeks.
As Yuo was hospitalized at Hospital Tunku Fauziah in Perlis, my best friends and I decided to head to Kangar as fast as we could. At 7.00 pm that day, I arrived at KL Central and gathered there with five other of my childhood friends, all of them primary school buddies. We then made our way to Puduraya and bought six bus tickets.
While waiting for the bus to depart at 11.00 pm, we had our dinner at the nearest KFC outlet. Siti and I approached the counter to order some food and out of the blue, Nezza tapped my shoulder; she was weeping even as she attempted to utter the words, “Si You…” Two simple words that were enough for us to understand what had happened. Nezza then showed us the message from Kevin on her phone: “Sorry to tell you this…Si Yuo tiada sudah. Dia jalan 8.45pm tadi.”
I cried, my best friends cried. One of our very own had left us without saying goodbye. And it was too painful. It was too much.
At about 10.45 pm, all six of us went inside Puduraya, got up the platform, and boarded the bus to Kangar where Yuo awaited us. Sometime around 3.00 am on the 21st of August 2009, I awoke, realizing that we were still midway to reaching Yuo. I sighed, part of me hoping that he was still breathing, still waiting for us even though he had departed for good.
We arrived at Kangar at 6.30 am and made our way to the hospital to see Yuo for the last time.
Yuo, you were there, lying helplessly and not breathing. Your skin was cold, your cheeks, so stiff, and your lips, blue. And that white cloth that shrouded you didn’t seem enough to keep you warm. And then there was that huge stitch on your head from the operation, too.
All of us were speechless. Crying. But there was simply nothing we could do to bring you to life again.
I had hoped for you to awaken so that I could tease you again. So that I could hear you laugh again. So that I could tell you how much I love you because I did not do so when you were still alive. And, yes, I regret not doing so, my friend.
I love you, Yuo.
Forget about your lists and do what you can because that’s all you can do.
Phone up the people you miss and tell them you love them.
Hug those close to you as hard as you can.
Because you are always only a drunk driver’s stupidity,
a nervous shopkeeper’s mistake,
a doctor’s best attempts and an old age away from forever.
(It’s something I wrote in honour of you.)