Today I was slapped out of my usual routine by the sad news of my friend's passing. He was a British bloke I had worked with in a university in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He failed to turn up for work, and due to the current depressive state he was in, his other colleagues took no chances and went to his home, whereupon they found his body in bed. Details are still sketchy but the suspected cause is that he took his life by overdosing on anti-depressants and indulging in copious amounts of booze. Ever since I knew him, he had had troubles in relationships. Many a time I had had to console him at work when he broke down sobbing. The man had his demons.
The saddest part is that his usual self was the total opposite: he was known for his jokes and pranks. He was the kind of guy likely to stick his tongue out and cross his eyes if you took a photo of him. Cruel that love, something we all seek, should be the thing that corrupted his soul. I shall miss him dearly.
Aside from this ghastly piece of business, these past 2 months I have seen/heard of 4 other deaths. My family friend, who had no history of any major illnesses, made a business trip to Shanghai last month and suddenly had a heart attack, leaving behind a bewildered wife and kids. Another friend of mine from the States (a Facebook friend), went for surgery to remove a tumour but didn't make it. Her boyfriend posted on her FB wall after the operation regarding her death. Now I wonder about such online accounts, suddenly cut short like that. Forever floating in cyberworld. Creepy.
I didn't know the other 2 people who died recently, but they took their lives near me here in Luohu. One jumped out of the office window below my office. The other freaking jumped out of the apartment window in my block on Valentine's Day. Damn. Both women.
I have also been witness to 2 other jumps before. One was in Singapore years ago when I went to visit my friend. Someone jumped from my friend's apartment block in the wee hours of the morning. The other was in Malaysia. I went to see a friend in his university hostel room when a student in the same block jumped. The shocking thing is that in all 4 jumps, I was there at the moment it happened. I heard the thumps. I don't know why.
Death is on my mind, morbid as it is. Nothing is really for certain. Here I am, globe trotting for the most part of the last 12 years or so, but whether it be craving new experiences or pursuing something that will satisfy my soul, I do not know. Should something disastrous strike and I shuffle off this mortal coil in a strange land, what would happen? People would have to string together what they knew of me to form a more complete picture of the individual. Those that have been reduced to online means of contact may never even know of the incident. What of stories left hanging, skeletons in my closet, promises left unkept? Dreams unfulfilled.
I guess one way to handle the death of a friend is to look at my own life and ponder where the road leads. I have to weigh again my priorities and consider carefully my legacy. Perhaps by adjusting the rudder and making improvements, I can allow my friend to 'piggyback', so that he remains in my heart but more so through my actions. Maybe that would be a fitting way to honour his memory.
RIP Chris. Be free.