A Farewell Without Goodbyes

I attended my friend’s funeral last night. He’s not exactly a friend, more of an acquaintance, someone who I’ve known for many years but seldom met outside of a bar or club, or broad daylight. The last time I saw him was about two years ago when I bumped into him during a trip in Bangkok. We hung out briefly, did a drink, he told me he was there to visit a friend and to get stock for his online venture selling men’s clothing.

He wanted to get a personal accident insurance policy from me before but never found the time to meet up. I never heard from him since until last Monday when a common friend informed me about his wake. His name appeared surreal in the SMS I received. When I get news about eternal departures, it was usually of this friend’s parents or that person’s grandparents, but never someone I knew. My heart sank as much as I was in disbelief.

His name was Felix. He just past his 32nd birthday on 15 Oct 2009.

My image of him was always someone who’s cheerful, funny and ever ready to laugh at himself. In my terms, he’s a nice guy and I always felt comfortable in his presence. As I dug into my memories of him, the only recollection and image that came up was his smile. He’s well-liked by friends and always full of laughs. But apparently, that’s not the real him.

I had the chance of meeting one of his classmates who’s known him since age 13 and also Felix’s army reservist campmate at the funeral. Twenty years they’ve known each other. I could tell that Andy was deeply affected by the passing of his long-time army buddy. Although they never kept in touch outside of reservist training, the two had talked deep into the night during those in-camp moments. According to Andy, Felix actually had a very negative outlook about life and had a short temper. He seldom confides in people and much preferred to keep his emotions and feelings to himself. If Andy tried to probe about how he’s feeling, Felix would snap at him.

Of course all these were Andy’s point-of-view. I never quite knew Felix and I won’t say I knew him better at death. But nothing really matters now. He’s gone. I was told that he got infected with some kind of virus that got into his blood, and then infected his organs. He had a persistent bout of fever that started six weeks ago until his last in-camp training with Andy where he was sent home. His family brought him to the hospital that very night and his condition deteriorated over the following weeks. He was in ICU and on life support system for about 20 days.

After all his insurance policies paid out and medical insurance claims, his hospitalization still chalked up a deficit of about S$20,000. I can’t imagine the strength required to do it, but his mother and brother pulled the plug.

His heart rate was at 100, then it dropped to 60, went to 40… 20… 10… 0… At around 1:30am Monday morning, Felix bid his farewell to many friends without a goodbye. I was told a tear formed at the corner of his eyes.

Perhaps it’s better this way. My memory of him will always be his smile. He didn’t want his friends to know he was that sick. Perhaps he didn’t want to trouble us to visit him. According to another acquaintance, Pat, Felix retained his sense of humour to the very end. Pat wanted to visit him in the hospital when he was very sick but he told her not to come… because he looked damn ugly.

When I saw his photo at the altar, I was a little taken aback. He looked handsome, but I haven’t seen him without his lips curled up, his teeth showing. His coffin was covered up so we couldn’t take a last look at him. All I had to remind me of him was that ‘lorry-head’ photo.

But compared to that good-looking picture of him, I preferred the one in my head.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. universe8within
    Nov 05, 2009 @ 05:30:45

    Death comes to all.
    Live life to the full.
    C u Saturday!


  2. universe8within
    Nov 05, 2009 @ 05:30:45

    Death comes to all.
    Live life to the full.
    C u Saturday!


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