Since the death of my cousin Lil, I've been forced to wonder at the huge effect that the absence of one person has had on my life. Within seconds, the news of his death turned my world upside down and life has never been the same again. I not only had to accept that I'll no longer physically see him before me, but I also had to accept that my happiest moments will be tainted with grief because I won't get to share my happiness with him.
Have you ever stopped to think how you affect the people around you? I'm not just talking about your family and friends, what about your colleagues or the cleaner in your office building? The day-to-day interactions you've with someone can really shape their world; people don't always remember what you say, but they'll always remember how you made them feel. Don't underestimate the small gestures of kindness you show to people.
Lil and I lived in different states our whole lives. I grew up in Perak and KL, him in Johor. At one point, we were both living on different sides of the world to pursue our studies, but he was always a constant in my life. He regularly texted me and rang me up to ask how I was doing. When I moved to boarding school at the age of 16, he called me everyday in my first term to see how I was settling. I remember looking forward to his calls in between classes and tennis. His generosity is also something I'll never forget as there was rarely a time he did not come bearing gifts. They weren't thoughtless gifts; they were things that only someone close to me would get me.
Now that he's departed from this world, I'm forced to reprogram myself so that I can adjust to this void in my life. I've to tell myself that I'll no longer be getting birthday calls from him every year, no more random calls at 2am or congratulatory messages for every milestone in my life. I didn't know then, that these small gestures would make up some of my fondest memories. We don't always know how much a person means to us until they're no longer in our lives.
Lil's death has helped me to redefine what love and happiness mean to me. They may be two separate things but they certainly coincide with each other. How you define love or happiness will inevitably affect the quality of all your relationships, romantic or not. If you seek happiness in superficial things; you'll inevitably attract people that are only capable of superficial love. Love that is tied to wrong priorities, unreasonable conditions and unrealistic expectations.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a positive impact on the people around you?
- Are you someone that people go to when they need to be vulnerable?
- Is trustworthiness integral to your character?
- Do you make others feel safe?
Lil may no longer be physically present in my life but my friendship with him still continues. It continues when I'm good to my siblings and my best friend. It continues when my cousins and I get together. It continues when I raise my hands in prayer to ask God to shower him with Mercy. It continues when I make someone laugh as much as he made me laugh. My friendship with him is eternal.
A lady called Brynne Satrom, in the writing course I'm attending, shared this with me:
"How utterly amazing that we have the power and privilege to create such strong, everlasting, meaningful relationships that when that person leaves, everything changes. Our world is left in disarray. It's heartbreaking and painful and most every-terrible-word you can imagine, but wow. I think finding that kind of connection is what life is all about. It's pretty incredible to think we can have that kind of impact on another soul."
Never again will I receive a surprise gift from Lil on my birthday. No call. No text. No voice notes. No out-of-the-blue visits. No late night makan sessions. But with every new meaningful friendship I forge, and every minute that I spend enriching the lives of my loved ones, I'll be reopening the gift of friendship he has given me. Now that, is the kind of gift no amount of money can get you. If you've got it, you're truly rich.
Sincerity is rare but it touches people's hearts like warm sunshine on your face. The mind struggles to remember everything but rarely does your heart forget when it's been moved. Don't just live life chasing achievements; if you want to leave a mark on this world, create everlasting impact through your words and actions.