Not one of my best, but I wrote this while listening to My Chemical Romance and taking a break from studying. Naturally, it’s a sad story. What else could I write, right? Haha. At least I left out traces of morbid death. But a story like this, I still like “Mummy, What is Love” most. 🙂
The church was filled with flowers. A lot of flowers, of frangipani and chrysanthemum. They were tied to the benches with black ribbons. The church was used for ceremonies both happy and sad. The gates of the very same church had born traces of happiness and blissfulness, of white and gold, of eternity and love.
I sat at the front row, together with his parents. Behind me were hundreds of people, sad, serious. Some of them looked blankly at the brown coffin resting at the front of the church. Perhaps it was the first time someone they had known passed away, they did not know how to look or react in such a situation. As for me, I did not want to cry anymore.
Young in death, he was twenty-two. I was glad that I had met him when I was just lost in life and confused about my future. Then, he came stepping out of nowhere, smiling at me and ordering a cup of coffee. I bustled off, remembering him for he had been the first customer to smile at me that day. He went back to the café every other day. That was two years ago. That was a healthy Elijah Chua that I had known.
He was a smart student and I was just working hard in life, having failed out of school and trying to make ends meet. I was just getting sick of my job when he turned up every day for a coffee, making sure that he bought it from me, giving me a smile every day. I wasn’t about to forget the day when he actually waited for me to end my shift and asked me out for dinner. It was his treat and it was then that I found out he was a rich kid, Harvard material and living with his parents in a landed property near town. He promised to drop by for a coffee every day. The next day and many days after, he dropped by for a coffee, together with a bunch of roses. We got together in no time. His parents were afraid that I was a gold digger and highly disapproved of our relationship.
“He has a fiancée,” his mother said. “Her name is Tiffany.”
He did not care. He told me he had a dream of going to Australia to see the kangaroos together with me. I told him I would.
But I never dreamed that time together would be so short. A few months later, he was diagnosed with leukemia. It broke my heart to see him lose his color due to the chemotherapy. He fought hard to survive, but when he was finally hospitalized, it was Tiffany who stayed by his bedside and I was banned from entering into his room. That went on for a year and a half. Every morning, I returned to his ward and waited outside with a cup of coffee and a bunch of roses. I must be the first girl who gave him roses. He could see through the glass window and he would smile. There was no need for words. His smile said everything. I would leave the coffee and the roses outside his door before going for work.
Just two months ago from this fateful day, he turned up at my café, pale in the face and waving two air tickets in his hands. We left for Australia that night, flying to Perth. We walked on the sandy beaches and held the hands I had not touched for more than a year. They were no longer warm, but cold and bony. He had lost so much weight. I cried. When he took me in his arms, I sobbed into his shoulders and hugged him tight. We had lost so much time together but he said it did not matter. We can spend only a day together each year and those days would only make us love each other more. We kissed for the first time and made love that night. The next day, we went to see the kangaroos. He smiled at the sight of them. Though weak and quivering, I could see tears of happiness and sorrow in his eyes.
We flew back a week later and he was admitted to the hospital immediately. His situation worsened over the fortnight and his parents chased me out of the hospital the next morning. He refused all treatment until he was to see me by his bedside again. They had no choice but to let me in. My heart broke to see his sunken face and I cried again. I hated myself for not being able to present a smiling self to encourage him, but he fell asleep holding my hand, smiling peacefully.
“He wants to have his funeral in a church in Perth,” his mother told me tearfully.
“And that would be fulfilled, wouldn’t it?”
The last time I saw him open his eyes was just yesterday morning, his hands in mine, still smiling serenely. It was only a day ago that we were talking. He seemed so far away now. I could no longer see his smile when my hands stretched out. They no longer met the bony fingers of his. A shadow of his tall, lanky figure was lingering in front of me, yet when I reached out to touch, it would disappear. While everyone walked around and dropped roses into his coffin, I put in, not one, but a bunch of roses like I always did when I waited for him outside his ward.
“You’ll be waiting for me now, won’t you?” I whispered, kissing him on his lips. Cold as they were, they spread warmth into my heart. I held his hand which bore our wedding ring, the sole remembrance of our wedding of white and gold in this very church two months ago. As I looked down at mine, I could see him standing in front of me, holding me in his arms and smiling at me. He was not longer a lingering shadow. He lived within me.