"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
(1 Corinthians 15:55, NIV)
"Do not be afraid. I [Jesus Christ] am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."
(Revelation 1:17-18, NIV)
We are not a close friend, Tracy and I (I need to put it up front in all honesty and integrity. I don't want to have that appearance of BFF with the deceased when in fact, I'm not). A bit higher than an acquaintance but slightly lower than a best friend. Although we were a good friend during secondary school, like most school friendship, after SPM everyone was doing their own things – continue form 6 or further studies to college or university (in her case, matriculation) or went straight to workplace. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get to be with some of your old friends. Sometimes you just get updates from one another once in a while (this was before the social media boom). And sometimes you just follow the flow – let it be – leaving the friendship under the hands of time and event. Either way, we all need to move on with our lives, right?
Occasionally, I met her at coffee shops and malls. Twice at the food fair. Since she used to work with my cousin, I get to hear some news about her. And because I met our mutual friend, John (who truly her best friend), more often than her, he will fill in the blank of what news that I might be left out. To cut the story short, we get to talk during John's wedding because we were on the same table and then to add to the festive mood, she gave me her coming-soon-wedding invitation card. I was surprised! Not just because she invited me [As I said, we were a good friend but over time, we are not a close friend] but primary because she was getting married! Do you know how HUGE is that? TRACY GETTING MARRIAGE, that's HUGE! Souness Peter, brother, if you read this, let me explain why you're VERY special to her:
Tracy was a lovely girl who became a beautiful woman. Back in secondary school, many boys like to flirt with her – you can't ignore a girl like her – but Tracy won't bother with most of them (There are some hilarious and memorable stories related to this which I won't mention here, only those who were close to us know about it). Besides all of her admirable qualities, gracious attitude and not-so-perfect characters, one exception which stands out for me is this: She often chooses the wrong guys (a**holes) as boyfriends. I told her so, she admitted it, and yet, she did it again (I know because it takes one to know one). So, you see, TRACY GETTING MARRIAGE is a HUGE thing. Was it possible for her to make a wrong decision again? Heartbroken, weaken trust, bad memories, try again? Most people won't be that quick to start all over again. Healing requires time, trust needs to be built, memories over layer the old ones. To open up again, he got to be bigger than all of this mess. "Beautiful Mess," as Jason Mraz puts it. And then you come into her life, Souness. I don't know much about you but I know this much about both of you: you and Tracy are meant to be with each other. As an outsider, I only can observe behaviors and find clues. She loves to travel, her family and cousins can witness this, but not as much as she explores places with you. You can imagine her sense of accomplishment when she conquered mountains and hills, but hiking is not as special as walking with you. Everybody say her smile is beautiful – it is – but not as bright as the day she married to you. That's when I (we, friends) knew that she was not making a mistake this time. She made the right decision, a decision that she should be proud of, a decision that she can say her own. That's HUGE. You are VERY special to her. You're the man!
And now, Death… let me ask you, how are you able to deal with the pain you cause so many of us? Days full of tears and an unbearable void that makes it hard to focus on our daily tasks. Days where the thoughts of our loved ones bring back the hurt and pain. Death, do you get tired of hearing the cries and shouts directed towards you? These few days we mourn for our beloved friend Tracy [most probably due to QT Syndrome. Google check it]. You take away her life at its prime. I can compromise when you take life when it's due or something caused by our own stupid mistakes and when you gave mercy to the suffering when they needed it the most. But why take it all of sudden? We are in shock! F**k you! She couldn't say proper goodbye or last eye contact. Empty words, just the sound of the cardiac monitor. F**k you Death! I don't hate you per se, I just don't like the way you work. You are created with a purpose, I respect that, but l can't stand "the mysterious way." Maybe we all should realize that you can come anytime – unexpected, unanticipated, and unwelcome. Maybe we all should take heed of the late Steve Jobs words, "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life." Or Avenged Sevenfold lyrics, "Seize the day or die regretting the time you lost." Or as the Bible says, "Making the most of every opportunity…"; "Making the most of your time…"; "Redeeming the time…" (Ephesians 5:16). We all must realize that life is short. I get it. But it is appropriate to say for now – as we grief and bereave, in pain and sorrow – F**k you, Death! (I've cursed you all the way from my place to Pusat Jantung Sarawak the early morning when I heard about the news about her).
Tracy, do you remember when you asked me for book recommendations and I point to you John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life? Do you remember when you enquired me about why there are so many Christian denominations and I said it doesn't matter as long as you believe and have faith in Christ of the Scripture? Do you remember at the coffee shop during our ‘accidentally' lunch together you probed me to revealed the motive of I'm doing student's ministry and I answered you in the form of a quote, "Only one life 'twill soon be past; Only what's done for Christ will last"? I believe you're with our Lord Jesus Christ right now. You have passed from death to life. In Christ, we ask sarcastic questions to the death-face, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" Paul responded: "Death has been swallowed up in victory… [So] thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). I'm sad. The family, friends, and colleagues are also sad right now, but let me end this rumbling article with a hopeful note, a declaration from the One who "hold the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18), an eternal promise from the Son of God, Jesus Christ: "Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life!" (John 5:24). Tracy, yes, you have passed from death to life, so Rest In Peace!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.