Rest well, Lil
إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعون
To Allah we belong; and to Him we return.
Last Saturday, my world was shaken when I lost my dearest cousin Jalil to cancer. It was so surreal when his younger brother sent a text to our family group chat saying 'Jalil dah tak de' (Jalil is gone). I weeped uncontrollably in my sister's arms as she rubbed my back trying to comfort me. I couldn't believe it as earlier that day I had just picked up a cake for him as he told me he was having cravings.
Lil—as our whole family would call him—was diagnosed with liver cancer mid last year and not long after his liver transplant, scans revealed that the cancer has spread to his lungs. Despite all the obvious signs that his body was weakening by the day, I never lost hope. I genuinely believed he was going to miraculously recover and things would go back to normal; I held on to this even a week before he died.
I recall just how upset and startled I was whenever he told me he did not have long to live. I never believed him because I refused to accept that he was facing his death. I assured myself months back that I would be ready if he were to lose his battle to cancer but truth be told, nothing could have prepared me for the heartbreak. I was just fooling myself.
His health deteriorated rapidly in the last 6 weeks of his life and I found myself traveling to Johor on an almost weekly basis along with all my cousins. On most of my trips, he could hardly talk as he was either in excruciating pain or too drowsy from the painkillers. But when he could talk, my stomach would hurt from all the laughter. Anyone who's ever met Almarhum Tunku Jalil would agree he had a spectacular sense of humour; he was the kind of person who could strike a conversation with anyone and it would have been a memorable one.
Having you as my cousin was truly a blessing because I did not have to search far to find a best friend. You possessed a lot of wonderful traits that I pray my future sons will have. You were kind, generous and loving; all the things a man should be. As far as I can remember, you've always been a thoughtful person.
A few days before you passed away, you sent me a voice note saying if I needed someone to talk to, you were there for me. Little did you know, it was the thought of you suffering that was bringing me down in the past few months. Perhaps you already knew that which was why you felt obliged to comfort me. You always cared about others more than yourself; it was your strength but also your weakness.
You used to tell me how guilty you felt burdening everyone. You were never a burden to us Lil, cancer was NOT something you chose to have but supporting you all the way was something WE chose to do and we would have done it again and again. Your battle with cancer tested us as a family but we quickly found out that our family has a pretty unbreakable bond. I'm sure you saw that, too.
There are too many things about you that I'll miss. The pain I feel in my chest is hard to describe but it comforts me knowing that Allah is with the broken hearted. Losing you hurts more than I could ever imagine but in time, I'll be ok. Family reunions will no longer be the same, Johor will no longer be the same, but you'll forever have a special place in our hearts.
This will be the last time I'm saying this to you: Rest well, Lil.