A Passing Memory

Many years ago, I was assigned to write a story on a hospice for a small Singapore-based health magazine.

The PR person for the hospice scheduled me to interview two patients, both of whom seemed happy enough to spend one precious day in the last days of their lives sharing their life story with me.

On the day of the interview, I came down with a bad cold. I didn’t want to infect terminally ill patients so I rescheduled the interview. When I called back a few days, I was told that one of my interviewees had passed away from complications.

So I did my interview with just one patient who was down with 4th stage lung cancer that had spread to the bones. I only remember that throughout the interview, she kept telling me, with a brittle smile, a hoarse voice and a twinkle in her eye, that she knew she’d be well and home with her family by Christmas.

She passed away a couple of weeks after.

                                                                                                        —–

At that time, I was very affected by this. I was not quite sure if I was inspired or simply depressed.

Because of a common cold, I lost the opportunity to meet a dying man with a story to tell. The woman who I did speak to was frail as a leaf, but so tenaciously optimistic – a poster girl for infinite human capacity to hope. And if that wasn’t enough irony and pathos, why would two people on the brink of death chose to spend their most treasured time speaking to an utter stranger when two years ago, they might not have spared me the time of day if I passed them on the streets.

Having said that, I really don’t want to milk this experience for moral summaries or trite truisms.

It was, as I told it.
It moved me and shifted the course of my life forever (if only by a micro-inch) – just like all the people we’ve met, books we’ve read, movies we’ve watched, places we’ve been to… everything that left a lump in our throat.

I’m starting this blog because I believe that extraordinary and ordinary inspirations happen every single day. And I don’t want to miss them.

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