The pain of no goodbye
JULY 9 — Two weeks ago my colleague passed by an accident in Nilai. It was a hit-and-run — there was only a wrecked motorcycle in sight. She didn’t see any other vehicle that looked like it might have been part of the accident. As she drove by, she caught a clear glimpse of the victim.
He looked young, barely an adult. His hair was soaked in blood. An older man, a passerby it seemed, cradled his head. She saw the man whispering something into the victim’s right ear. Amid the blood streaming out of his mouth, she could see the victim trying to say something.
Listening to her story, I knew the victim was trying to recite the syahadah. The stranger whispering into his ear was trying to help him do so before life leaves him completely. And I felt a profound sadness picturing the young man dying by the roadside, surrounded by strangers.
That man had parents, I imagine, parents who loved him. They were once young as he was, who maybe fell in love at the same age he was that day. Like any love story I can see them finally getting married after overcoming untold ups and downs, and their love brought forth the young man they call their son.
Perhaps their love brought forth more than just one son. Perhaps that young man had brothers and sisters, whom he loved and who loved him too. They grew up together, played with each other, perhaps even fought with each other like siblings do. I can imagine that young man having a wonderful childhood, one filled with laughter and fond memories.
I can see still how that young man grew from childhood to adolescence. He must have gone to school, where he must have met many friends. I reckon he counted some of those his closest, people with whom he shared secrets — dark, even embarrassing perhaps — as they shared adventures no one else would ever know about.
And perhaps in school he loved, too, or at least thought he did. Maybe there was a girl he liked, that he thought was the one for him. Maybe he had his heart broken. I can imagine him growing up, physically, emotionally and mentally, as he grew into early adulthood. Maybe like many of us he went on to university after school.
In university I can see how he might have felt his future was wide open. He was where he might learn invaluable life lessons, where he was on the brink of discovering his life’s passion before starting on his life’s work. Maybe there was another girl, too, who was to be part of the happiness that he would have sought in his life.
He grew up surrounded by love, family and friendship, now a young man ready to pursue his dreams and make something of his life. Yet there he was, lying by the roadside covered in his own blood. He was dying.
It made me profoundly sad to think of all this, to think how this young man’s life ended so early, so abruptly. I imagine he never expected that day to be his last. Maybe he was careless that day; maybe he was but a victim of someone else’s recklessness. In any case he lay there alone, surrounded by the strangers who didn’t know who he was, where he came from.
He was alone as he died, with no one to call father or mother or brother or sister by his side. There were no cousins or uncles or aunts watching as he let out his last breath. As life left his eyes forever, he was alone. And his family, his friends, the people who mattered to him and to whom he mattered, would only know he’s gone much, much later.
Death comes to all of us, in time. Yet that young man met his death without ever saying goodbye to those he loved. I imagine that fact made it all the more painful for his family. Wouldn’t it be so for us too, if someone we care deeply for is suddenly, unexpectedly gone forever?
So let’s keep that in mind as we go about our lives from now on. Don’t let your family, your friends, your husband or wife or children feel that extra pain of never having said goodbye. They’ll feel sad enough when our time comes.
Be careful and be safe, you, for the people you care about. What hurts the most about the last goodbye is never having the chance to say it.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.