We were jumping up and down on the bed like balls of spring, the five or six of us boys and girls, some still in kindergarten, some in lower primary, some too young even. The bed creaked under our weight. The bed sheet was all crumpled and soiled from our dirty stomping feet. Those were the carefree days. All we had in mind were play, make merry, eat when we were hungry and sleep when tired. There was an air of innocence in us as squeals of our laughter filled the wooden house; that was until I grabbed one of the girls and kissed her.
On the lips or on her cheek, I cannot recall but kissed her I did. Silence swiftly pervaded in the room. I could see the blush rising on her cheeks. I do not even remember who she is now. I must have stolen her first kiss. I am sorry. She got my first too. That kind of squared it up. We never talked about that after the incident. A short while later we moved house and I never saw her again.
Fast forward to 1982. The Christmas Eve Party was toning down. We were sixteen. She was my first girlfriend. We were slow dancing. That was the year we grooved to tunes like the Eye of the Tiger, Physical and Eye in the Sky. One of my favourites then was Key Largo by Bertie Higgins, still is. We were dancing cheek to cheek. We had been dating for a few months already.
It was dark. The unhurried melodies began to fade into the background. Then there were only the two of us, moving to our own rhythm. We looked into each other’s eyes. I tilted my head slightly and pressed my lips against hers. We kissed. Tears rolled down her cheeks afterwards. I apologised. Still she sniffled. After that night, we smooched every opportunity we could. One time, she said, “Let’s try this,” and proceeded to instruct me on the French. She was good. We honed that initial slobbery wetness into a fine art. Until now, I still wondered where she learnt that from.
July 11, 2003. The room was stuffy but I hardly seemed to notice. I held on to her, whispering soothing words into her ear. Could she still hear me? I had hoped she could. Those were precarious seconds ticking away. My heart was reluctant but I was unwilling to hold her back. She had fought and hoped, and lost; or did she? The hour was near. I could sense it. The gates were opening. The Light was beckoning. Her release had come finally. “Go in peace. You are with Jesus now,” I told her, as she exhaled her last breath. And she was gone, forever. “Thank you for everything Mother,” I murmured, “I love you.” Her left cheek was warm as I kissed her tenderly. There was never a sadder kiss. That was the first time I kissed Mum. That was the last time I kissed Mum. I had to steal that one last kiss from her or else I will never be able to do it again. That was a very treasured moment with Mum. There never will be again.
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