There's too much dust on this blog. Give me a minute to clean.
Alright, all clean now.
I guess it's obvious by my last entry here how busy I've been. 'Busy' isn't a word I like to use to describe my life, but for a brief moment in the last 8 months or so, I became the stereotypical 30-plus year old I once detested, the one with a novel in the back burner she just couldn't quite finish.
It's not that I didn't have time. Busy-ness, I realised, isn't exactly the lack of time, but the lack of headspace. You think, even when you're not thinking. So your head is full, even when it feels totally empty.
The last chapter I wrote for Habits was Chapter 3. It was November 2020 and I was on a writing streak, having a magical moment, creatively speaking. After months of trying, I was finally in the right headspace. Words and scenes came more naturally to me.
Writing faster than usual, I was already halfway through Chapter 4 just a week after I published Chapter 3. At this rate, I thought, I would be done with this whole project in a few months.
And then, everything paused.
While writing a paragraph for Chapter 4, I found my dad semi-unconscious in the living room. We tried to wake him up. He did, but he seemed odd - when he looked me, his gaze was that of one looking at a stranger. He answered questions with brief, curt, little sounds, which only made me realise he couldn't understand or hear what we were saying.
He tried stand up, but couldn't. One leg had become limp. He almost fell down.
We knew something was wrong, and immediately shifted to emergency mode.
Within 15 minutes, he was admitted into the ICU. Doctors tell us his blood is poisoned. Fatal levels of toxin.
Had he been taking anything? They asked us. We didn't know.
What was the last thing he did?
"He went hiking a day ago."
It might have been a poisonous prick from a plant. But we don't know yet.
About 2 hours later, they tell us it's sepsis. I google sepsis. It's your body's way of defending itself from an infection by releasing chemicals that essentially harm your organs.
Chances of survival? Slim. Very slim.
His liver, and kidney had undergone acute failure.
"Do your best to save my husband", my mom told the doctors.
The doctors said they would try.
"What were his chances of surviving?" she asked the doctors.
We knew better to think it was really 50/50. That was only a doctor's euphemism for a low survival rate.
I cried myself to sleep that night, the first time in a long time.
We should not lose hope, we told one another in our family group chat. We must keep praying for dad. All of us, however, were in deep despair.
When I closed my eyes, I found myself wondering if I could have done anything differently. Maybe I should have admitted him to a hospital when he complained about a fever the night before. How naive of me to have believed that he was fine when he said he was, I thought.
For two long nights, his survival hung in the air. He's not responding to the strongest antibiotics, the doctor-in-charge told my mom. We don't have anything else.
Another doctor's euphemism.
I prayed for a miracle. The first time I believed in one.
And I got it.
On the afternoon of the third day, after he was transferred from a private hospital to a public one, we finally had good news. He was finally responding to the antibiotics. The bacterial level was dropping. His liver and kidneys were recovering.
10 days after he was first admitted into the ICU, we brought dad home.
Nothing was back to how it was before that, however. He was incontinent for almost a month, and my mother had to change his pampers a few times a time.
He could not walk on his own, and depended on his wheelchair. My mom helped him with the one shower he took every day.
His appetite was low, and he ate a child's worth of food every day. He had lost a lot of weight.
I could sense that he felt defeated, but I told him to be hopeful. As long as he is alive, he will improve.
And over the next month, he did.
For me, I was just glad he survived, and didn't ask for much more.
On dad's birthday, two days before Christmas, my eldest uncle called and told my dad that grandma had wounded herself on the stomach, and the open wound had led to an infection. Ah ma is struggling to breathe, he said.
Grandma was 92. My uncle was merely understating the obvious: she's dying.
With no flights available, we took the next available bus to Sibu, a 12-hour journey I never expected to take so soon after dad's incident.
6 hours in, eldest uncle called again. Ah ma took her last breath, he said, without much sadness.
She was smiling.
The funeral itself was simple, and without the usual sombreness. It was Christmas day.
Everyone seemed happy, as though they were celebrating. Not because they a lot to gain from inheritance - my grandparents were very poor. Their home, worth a small mid 5-figure digit, was the only thing they had.
Everyone was happy because they knew grandma had a good death.
When 2021 came, I felt exhausted beyond belief, but relieved. There were many things to be grateful about.
I was alive. Dad was alive. Grandma passed away peacefully.
After Chinese New Year, I experienced an influx of new leads from my agency business, and my business and workload grew about five-folds. On top of that, I had recently taken over my mom's retail business, since she couldn't handle the expenses anymore due to pandemic.
Between hospital and therapy visits for my dad, sourcing for my retail business and handling my agency, I found my days filled to the brim.
I could hardly find time for myself. Days felt blurred between one another.
Then I made a conscious decision to carve out a little bit more time for myself everyday. To draw, to read, to meditate, to study, to catch up with friends, to care about people outside my family, or sometimes, to do nothing at all.
3 months later, I'm here now, writing my first long-form post in 6 months.
If you've read everything, thanks. There was no real purpose for this post, other than as a way for me to close a chapter in my life. So I can write again.
I find that I've always needed to do this with words. Sometimes I keep these words private, and other times, I want to share it with the world.
Thanks for being part of my world for this moment.
Above me is a forest of trees taller than me, reaching for the sky, and myself reaching for them. They are finding something, and I am lost.