Growing up was something that had eluded me for many years. When one is suddenly taken off the loop of interaction with society, one tends to regress. I stopped growing up right after I became paralysed. I was mothered over, pampered and got things done my way, almost always. The world moved forward unceasingly while I stagnated in all aspects of my life.
My parents saw to it that I was never in want. Material wise, I never was, but I yearned for more. I hankered to grow like other teenagers – go to college, date girls, be gainfully employed, get married, have kids. I had dreams. Unfortunately the paralysis had become a life sentence. I could not live those dreams anymore. I was trapped in a body that I no longer had control of. I looked out to the world and wished I was free again.
Months turned into years. I saw those dreams fade away one by one as my condition did not improve. I gradually retreated into a world that neither had marker stones nor landmarks that I could find my way around with. I drifted aimlessly in an ocean of despondence, my bearings determined by the capricious currents and wayward winds. My existence then had become meaningless. I had ceased to seek.
Someone once said that for a man to be happy, he needs three things: something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. I had only one of those. I thought I had found love. One out of three is not that bad considering the condition I was in. I was to discover later that love too was a cruel joke. How could women find my emaciated body appealing? Love was not forever after all and promises were meant to be broken.
I meandered on aimlessly looking for a cause to call my own. Mum gave me all the support she could muster. She knew I was searching for a basis to make my own being purposeful. Parents can only give us so much. There are things that we have to strike out by ourselves to discover. I gathered some courage and took small timid steps. She followed from a distance, making sure that she was there for me should I falter in my quest.
Then I met Wuan. She was not only a confidante but a soul mate in every sense. We knew exactly what each other was thinking without words being spoken. Have I finally found my purpose in life? Wuan’s coming into my life has certainly filled many gaps in the tapestry of my destiny. However there are still many fissures that I need to plug that she could not help me with. It is something I have to do by myself.
And then Mum fell ill. For the first time in my life, I had to take responsibility, not only for myself but for Mum. I grew up a lot those few months. I realised how much she had sacrificed for me through the things that I had to do for her. I really grew up. I was an eighteen year old boy imprisoned in a thirty seven year old man’s body. The teenager in me suddenly grew up a decade or two.
All too soon, I became an adult orphan. Once again, I had to pick up more shattered pieces of my life. The passing on of the surviving parent quickly broke down the belief that death is a distant event for me. The buffer to my subsistence was no longer there. I was abruptly thrust into the realisation that my mortality is a certainty and close by. My clock began to tick away the seconds.
Suddenly there was much to do and little time to accomplish them. I did not even know where to begin. I got lost in the midst of all those ideas that were constantly swirling inside my head. Then reality struck. I was in no position to map out the remaining of my life with so much. My health is such that today knows not what tomorrow brings. The best way for me to live is to live each day to the fullest, one day at a time.
Most important of all, I had fulfilled the uppermost in my list of priorities. I am walking the faith that was explicitly revealed to me at Mum’s deathbed. I was reborn a believer in the salvation of Jesus the moment she breathed her last. She died so that I could live the faith she was inducted into as an infant. She died so that I could grow up and take charge of my own life.
The cause to validate my being alive still eludes me although I now have devoted my life to serving God and the community that I live in generally. I am still searching for that clear path that will lead me to live a fulfilling life. This growing up process is slowly but surely turning me from self-centric to Christ-centric and community-centric which I am happy to say has filled me with much contentment.
The adult-teenager in me is slowing emerging from the cocoon as an adult. Adulthood comes with a different set of responsibilities. I am learning to be a responsible adult. There is still a lot of catching up to do. The direction of my life is still vague. I have a faint inkling of the exact course I want to take. Hopefully the fuzz will clear up and hopefully I will have time to realise them all before my time is up.
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