She appears to me in my darkest hours and loiters within me till I build my strength up again. She serves me, now, as a reminder of my own all-too-purile impulses, and my need to restrain this greed for instant gratification of a cowardly route out. She is like an old mirror whose glass has clouded over and gone silver with tarnish; it reminds me of the value of honesty, bravery and perseverance, despite your upbringing or your perceived obstacles. To live fearlessly. To stretch your arms into the light regardless of what anyone else thinks. Pity she passed at such a young age. Nevertheless making such an impact in my life.
We went to high school together. Katrina Lin and I *this is a link recently passed to me by Tommomi – I had no idea it even existed and it fills me with sadness reading her words and knowing she is not here with us anymore*. Or was it Lyn? I can’t quite remember. I do however remember the science of her smile and the pitch of her laugh which others either hated with envy or loved adoringly.I came back to school after the summer break to discover she won’t be joining us in our final year. She left at the end of Year 11. She had gone back to Taiwan and remained there in what would be her last endeavor to battle Cancer.
Katrina could very well be one of the reason why I never gave up. We kept in touch through emails. I was going through a rough year in the boarding house and fell into a menacing depression. Counselling’s only advantage to me was the opportunity to miss Math classes. Katrina was the only one I confided in and it amazed me that despite being bed bound and ill ridden, she took the effort and battled her pain just to ease mine with her humor, with and what others might describe as grandiloquent sarcasm. So I was taken by surprise that when the subject of my mortality arised, she replied with what shamed me, angered me and unbeknownst to me then, continue to mold me till this very day.
“How can you even think of ending your life when I am here fighting for mine?”
That’s all she had to say. That sentence was life altering to me.
I felt selfish and angry at myself for having been so caught up in my own crap that I didn’t realise just how much pain she was in and how incredibly insensitive it was of me to even contemplate such a thing and to her of all people. I wrote a lengthy email assuring her I would never do anything of that sort. We continued writing till her untimely death. The 8 month Chemotherapy did nothing but gave her a one month boost, defrauding her of the chimera that she would survive cancer, only to take her away in a breath of reluctant acceptance. I wonder if she ever knew. Surely she would have been prepared for the worst? I just hope she passed in winsome spirit.
I still cry when I hear ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. A song she dedicated to me with personalised lyrics. An ode to the “Wagging Queen.” Teasing me of the many classes I used to miss in school. I have forgotten most of the lyrics. I don’t even quite remember how our emails ended. And this makes me wonder about the artifice of memory… alas, how much of it am I just making up to assure myself that I haven’t forgotten? Is it better to forget completely or to forge a memory that never existed?
Now when I watch the news and see victims of war, cancer, poverty, famine…I remember Katrina Lin. Whenever I feel life has lost its meaning to me, I remember those who are fighting for their right to live. To take our own lives would be cruel to ourselves and the people we know. We would be mocking the dying and the dead.
I wonder what it would be like one day when I fail to piece together how it once was. When the frustration of gathering the dust in my memories of past love ones becomes too painful, would it still consume me the way it does now?
I guess if I’m still kept alive through memories of her, then her spirit is still very much alive and remains a little within me.
I miss you Kat.