Today is my first day back at work. “Work” as in academic work work, “work” as in boy am I supposed to be churning out some pretty amazing and mind-blowing words FOR SCIENCE work. It is now 1036hrs and all I have done is gotten out of bed and showered.
My life will never be the same again. And I keep telling everyone who loves me and cares for me that my life will never be the same again. I feel like a stroke patient learning to do all the simple things in life again. I cannot eat. I cannot sleep. I cannot hold your gaze while we chat. I don’t want you to hug me. I don’t want you to touch me. I don’t want you to look at me with pity eyes and tear up and tell me you’re praying for me.
I want you to know that I am okay. I keep telling everyone who loves me and cares for me that my life will never be the same again. And this is true. But deep inside, away from all the static, my stasis is a very calm, stable, and assuring peace. I have peace in my heart. I’ve had this peace since seven days before my sister passed away, because she prepared me for it, because I prepared myself for it, because God prepared me for it.
I have peace like a river, washing over me. I feel one big wave crashing down on me, sweeping away all the bad feelings I have and hold, and many smaller waves peaking and troughing to take away all the residual doubts and angst and pain that surface every now and then. I sound like a Christian cliche. I sound like a Murakami cliche. But I feel refreshed, I feel calm, I feel peace.
It may make no sense to the people who are still grieving dramatically, mourning loudly, sorrowfully telling me how many hours they cried last night thinking of my sister. It may make no sense to the people who chastised me for flying back to Perth to resume my life as usual, for not grieving “long enough”, for not loving my sister enough. It may make no sense to the people who are astonished that I am going ahead with our wedding this year, because “how can you be so selfish and focusing on yourself” and because “omg ah girl pantang you know”. But all this matters little to me because I know, my sister knows, and our God knows.
Since November 2014, I’ve been preparing my sister for the day she will have to submit to God and go home to heaven despite all her desires and wants, despite all her efforts and her good fight. I know she was ready to go home; she told me. I know she was ready to go home; God told me. I am grieving deeply and am convinced that no loss in life is as profound as losing a sibling who has spent all their lives with you, a sibling who has lived through a very difficult upbringing and household with you, a sibling who loves you and knows you and speaks your language.
When people tell me they see my sister and I haven’t posted on each other’s Facebook in a while, we report such adult policing to each other and laugh to ourselves. When people “encourage” me to text my sister “at least once a week”, we look at them with super judgy Abidin Sister Eyes then passive aggressively hug each other and nauseate them with our public display of affection. When people tell me I must know very little about anything because I moved to Perth, we lock down each other’s gaze, exchange eyerolls in stealth mode, then smile and nod politely to these adults until they go away. Very little of this matters to us, because we know between ourselves that we have each other and we have God.
I don’t want to throw a pity party. I want to throw a Christmas party. Can? I know it’s only May, but I don’t care. When we experience hardship and loss and grief, even the most pious Christians start to question God, judge each other, and have their faith shaken. But I feel nothing but peace because I see God’s hand in everything. I want to tell you that I am okay, that I am okay with you not being okay, that I am okay with you not being okay that I am okay. I just want to celebrate God’s love.
I feel gross when I hear people say I “lost” my sister, or that my sister “lost” to cancer. I mean, dude, I cannot even begin to tell you how much my precious sister has surrendered to God, how she has been a living testimony, and how God has used her in her circumstance to speak to many people. I consider my sister’s death Christ’s victory. Guys, she has gone to heaven, surely there is no better place on earth than that! For now, Carissa will just have to wait for all of us while we slowly make our way there la.
This is me admitting that I am more resilient than fragile, and me realising that I am actually secretly proud of myself for being more resilient than I’d thought I was. It is now 1109hrs and all I have done is gotten out of bed and showered and written a long, sappy, Facebook post. I think I should get milk for breakfast.
PS: Cmm, I love you and shit.