Death Came Suddenly


Early morning phone calls are not something that I welcome. 9.26am was not exactly early but I was still in bed and asleep. Before leaving for work, Wuan would always place the phone within easy reach of my right hand. The phone rang. I was jolted into semi-consciousness. My eyes were still shut. No point opening them. Without my glasses, everything would have been a blur anyway. I reached out and groped for the phone. It was exactly where it always was.

I answered. It was that familiar voice of my cousin Peter asking me when I was going back. “Next month,” I told him, “I will be attending a course here in early-June.”

His next sentence propelled me into full consciousness. “Ah Yin ay kia Peter bo liao.

Those were extremely unpleasant words to hear so early in the morning. Apparently, my cousin sister’s son, who shares the same name as Peter and me, had died in a grisly traffic accident. After we hung up, I lazed in bed, confused and troubled. I felt lost. I could not go back to sleep anymore. I got up. As I was sitting on the edge of the mattress, what Peter said hit me squarely in the face. My eyes were wet. There was an ache in my heart. I was unsettled. Sad news always do this to me.

Peter was a young man, in his mid-twenties, and was carving a career for himself as an engineer in one of the MNCs in Bayan Lepas. There was always a smile on his face. He never failed to address me respectfully as “Ah Choon kiu kiu” every time met. Until now, the full reality has still not sunk in yet. Death is not an easy thing to swallow, especially when it is of an extended family member whom I am fond of.

I worry for his mother. I am concerned with how she is coping. I dread having to make that phone call to her. What should I say? I know for sure I will break down the moment I hear her voice. I am undecided whether I should go back. Would it cause an unnecessary disruption to the rigmarole of the preparation for his final journey? As I sit here contemplating on the next step I should take, I pray for you, Peter, my dear nephew, that the Lord may have mercy on your soul; and may your parents and loved ones find comfort in this hour of grief. Rest in peace.

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Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

13 thoughts on “Death Came Suddenly”

  1. Dear Peter,

    My sincere condolences on your cousin sister’s son passing.

    Death is a certainty that each living soul is due to face. Not a being escapes the moment of leaving the confines of this Earthly life and returning to the Creator.

    Each of us have our own way to remember those loved ones of ours who have passed away and we too shall one day , follow them as our time is up.

    Cherish the moments we shared with them and appreciate the rest of those who are still alive with us.

    Shower your love and care upon each and everyone of them as best as you can and forgive them if they have wronged you in anyway, if it is possible to find it in your heart to do so.

    May the Almighty strengthen us all and give us a fitting finale. Amen.

  2. Dear Peter
    Sorry to hear about your nepher’s deceased. My condolences be with you and your cousin’s family. May the good god about take good care of him. I believe in time of sadness, it depends on how you would approach the situation. To contact your cousin or not is for you to decide. If she is a person that treasures close family support in time of crisis, then I believe a reassurance voice down the line won’t do any harm. But on the other hand if she is a private type of person, I would leave her to grieve in private with her family but still send her a condolence card to show your care. I maybe be wrong but it’s entirely up to you. A distressing time like this needs a calm and understanding person to steady the ship. All the best. Anthony

  3. Hi Peter
    Take care and I will pray for his soul.
    You do take care of yourself.
    I will talk to you more about organizing something when you are in Penang.
    Omnia in Bonum.

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