Wednesday, October 11, 2023

A starry portal opened wide today... (repost)

... and two dear friends went home...

Received an SMS this morning that stunned me for several moments. Justin Tan, who last visited me in November 2009 in the company of three gorgeous divas, had a motorcycle accident and died instantly. The crash happened in the vicinity of Ulu Yam Baru, so his body was taken to the Kuala Kubu Bharu hospital morgue.

Justin had recently turned 38 and was planning to formalize his marriage to one of the divas - a magnificent lady and blogging buddy named Janet.

I met this lovable couple more than 10 years ago when they were both active members of Food-Not-Bombs. Janet I kept bumping into at the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival and was someone I enjoyed occasional evenings at the theater with, followed by extended teh tarik and roti canai sessions. Justin usually stayed home. He was totally cool about his girlfriend pursuing a career as a singer.

The few times I met Justin he was usually quiet but very pleasant and jolly company. So I can't say I knew Justin very well - but I am profoundly fond of Janet and was glad she had found such a cool, solid guy as her partner.

I first noticed that Justin resembled a samurai during his November 2009 visit to Magick River. Okay, he could also pass for a master chef (just imagine him with a big white hat on). When I saw his lifeless body in the morgue today, he looked even more like a samurai in his full riding regalia, helmet still on. I could sense him hovering around, trying to reassure his friends and family that he was perfectly okay where he was...

It's virtually impossible to comfort anyone who has just experienced a sudden bereavement. Janet had arrived at the crash scene before the ambulance and she told me it was a surreal journey to the hospital, made even weirder when the ambulance had a flat and the driver had to get out and change the tire.

However, Janet was absolutely brave and held up remarkably. And so were Justin's parents whom I met for the first time today. It made me feel a momentary sense of relief that both my own parents have already gone and therefore need never make funeral arrangements for their own children.

There are times when I feel a tiny twinge of envy for those who have already passed through the portal of death and moved on to new adventures. The competitive games humans play to gain petty advantages over each other are ultimately so boring and tedious. Yes, the idea of going to sleep and never waking up again is sometimes a most enticing one...

As I took my leave of Janet, her parents and close friends, I felt a deep sense of gratitude to have been Justin's friend, albeit a casual one. I had no clue he was such a passionate biker. Now that he was on the other side I could clearly see his soul signature - and it was that of a samurai, a Zen master, a very noble, compassionate and wise being, a Jedi no less. Isn't it astonishing that we sometimes have no idea who our friends actually are... until they are no longer with us?

While I was at the the morgue, I received word that a friend from theater days - someone I hadn't seen in years but whom I always thought of with great affection - had left the earth. I didn't even know Dicky Cheah was sick. He hadn't even reached 50. Whenever I saw Dicky he would be all smiles and affability. He was so fond of the stage he'd accept just about any role, whether or not he had any lines. Later he got into mime in a big way and gigged at children's parties and corporate dinners. All this while he was holding a day job in advertising. Apart from this, I knew nothing about Dicky's personal life - but I would say he was probably among the least malicious of all theatre personalities.

What prompted me to blog about the passing of two friends on the same day, both younger than I, neither of whom I can claim to have known intimately, was the serene feeling that accompanied one of the most glorious twilight skies I have seen in weeks. It was as if the spirits of my departed friends now permeated heaven and earth and I was picking up their relief at being unburdened of physical trappings.

I was reminded of the beautiful death of another dear friend more than seven years ago - a guy we called Chief because he saw the profile of a Native American chief while gazing at the rocks around Magick River. Thinking about my friends' sudden departure put me in an emotional zone between joy and sorrow, where celebration feels more appropriate than mourning, for I strongly sensed that these were bright, uncontaminated souls emanating from the Eternal and glad to return thereunto, inevitable though the emptiness their loved ones must feel looking at the physical traces of their brief sojourn in human form...

Justin, Dicky... thank you for blessing me with your friendship and I shall forever cherish your being an integral aspect of my ultimate self.

[First posted 3 October 2010]