"Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?"
End of the World (1962) by Skeeter Davis
On my way to attend and to leave my clinical postings behind daily, I walk past the Melaka General Hospital morgue. It was business-as-usual for me this last Friday. It wasn't for a family of three which was so recently four.
A woman in her mid-thirties was crying quietly into the palms of her hands. To her left was a girl more than halfway to the age of twelve; crying in concert and clinging hard to her mother, but found that the grownup had no solace to give her because there was no solace to be had by anyone. To the woman's right was a skinny, bespectacled boy - a little older, but still far, far too young. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy, staring blearily into the strange fever dream of an uncertain future he and his family are barrelling dizzyingly into. I want to know what he was thinking, if he wasn't merely feeling.
Doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel were drifting in and out the scene of human wreckage, selectively oblivious and professionally insulated by nonchalance. A pair of house officers walked right in front of the grieving family; one laughing loudly at the joke of the other. It must have been the funniest joke ever told, and I wish I heard it.
I may never understand the immensity of the family's tragedy, but something made me stop to stand a little distance behind them and watch for half a minute, trying to feel their loss and feeling at a loss for what to try - or if I should try to do anything at all. Am I a bad person for walking away eventually? These are people I do not know and I know I shouldn't care, but I did. I did care. It's Sunday, two days post-mortem, and they are still inhabiting my head. Was it her husband? Was it their father? What lives would they live now after this upheaval? How will she get by with her two kids after death did do them apart?
How can someone who means the world to these people, mean so little to the world?
I put this in writing because I need to get this out of my mind and into something a little less changeable and a little more concrete. I wrote this to say, "I noticed. I felt your pain. The world ended for a moment for me too."
k0k s3n w4i