When my uncle died, he was blue

I remember when my father called.

            “Dead. They’re dead,” he said through sobs.

            “Who’s dead?” I whispered.

“They. 3 of them. I got back to the jetty and saw them lying there. All dead. I can’t find Uncle Jonathan. I lost him.” Dad continued.

There had been an accident. Their ferry had started sinking, barely 300 meters away from the jetty. None were wearing their life jackets. All their lives were risked. The captain had failed to warn them, then jumped over and swam to shore by himself, leaving his crew and passengers flailing about to save themselves.

A few days later, they found my uncle.

His body blue, swollen and dead. Very dead.

I didn’t feel like he was gone, although he must have been. His body was lifeless, but did life really begin in this body? I registered this thought as I stood by his coffin. “Where are you? I asked Uncle Jonathan. He didn’t reply. He was too busy being dead.

That night, as I lay in bed, I dug up all the photographs I had of and with him, and I pasted his photographs on my wall. I didn’t know that was a direct invitation for him to come to me.

It took a long time to fall into slumber, and once I did, I was transported into the other dimension. In this dimension, colours are more vibrant. And his body looked unnaturally blue, almost like a smurf.

He was still dead. But he must have crawled out of the coffin somehow because now he was right beside me, on my bed, wetting my pillow. I didn’t want to say anything, so I ignored my soaking wet pillow and sheets.

He didn’t say anything. His arms were crossed, and his hair was soft. His eyes gently closed, as if he were sleeping. He loved taking naps anyway, so I guess he came all this way to nap.

The years went by and I continued dreaming about him. It took a few years for him to stop sleeping wet in my bed. He finally woke up. I saw him in another recurring dream where we keep meeting each other in public. He doesn’t know I can see him. He looks lost and confused, unsure why no one can see or talk to him. But he is in no pain.

A few more years go by and now, he knows I can see him. We are standing across our family; he waves his hand at me to say hi. We both know he’s not ready to go yet, and so we go on our way, him doing his dead thing, me doing my dream thing.

Another few years go by and one day, I knew it was time. He walked confidently towards me. And gave me a big hug. It felt completely real to feel him, and know that we don’t just exist in our empty bodies. We didn’t talk. But in this world, talking isn’t needed.

When he finally let me go, he was there no more, barely a mist in the air.

My uncle took 6 years to go. And that was the year my therapy dog died.

Diary entry: July 2020

I’ve been trying to write. But I find it hard. So instead, I’m reviving old thoughts and emotions, to set these in stone. To remember. To forget. To unravel.

July 2020 –            

I know I should let you go. I’ve been trying. Every day, I think about you and me and where we went wrong. Every day, I imagine you must go through the same thoughts. Every waking moment, I fight the urge to call you and ask, “do you know what happened? Are you still in there?” I deny my impulses for 29 days in a month but by the 30th day, the thin thread holding me together breaks gently, and I pick up the phone with a sole intention to hear your voice again.

            I exist now in the phone calls you have with me during your coffee-runs. I imagine you sneaking out of the house, on pretext of doing a grocery run, waiting 10 minutes before calling me in the car. I’ve lost my privileges as your first woman and now I’m the ‘other woman’ you must bear with. Now, you’ve made me become the shadow crouching around the corner of your relationship.

            We talk about nothing. You tell me what a psycho she has been, but also tell me that you’ve no regrets. You tell me you feel sorry towards me, and that you will always love me, but not in the way I’m hoping. You want to remain as the good guy, and I let you. I let you because I love you. I don’t know why but I do.

            When the breaking dawn comes, I wrap a shawl around my shoulders. Shoulders I once wanted to show the world. I crave the smell of coffee floating around in our house. I crave the normality of our boring life. And I’ve lost that.

You’ve shriveled my dignity and confidence into a grain of sand – inconsequential. Undeserving. Nothing more than a thoughtless breath.

            And yet, there I bare my soul. Because even as sand, I matter. I would rather matter than be used by you again.