Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Supporting a grieving friend

My friend Louise lost her boyfriend Jeffrey Lee in a horrible motorbike accident last week. She had only known him not too long and their relationship only started last year. Louise had been through few really tough times and I was very happy for her to have found someone like Jeff. Though I've met Jeff only a couple of times, he came across as very nice and warm person. It was validated when Louise told me on my first visit to the funeral wake that Jeff have no temper. This is truly admirable because such person are rare. As a Buddhist, I've learned that people who perfectly restrain their anger are like harmless sages of solid gold, we call them The Efficient Charioteer - see verse 222.

As I sat beside her, tears streamed down her eyes and I could sensed her grief & agony deep inside me. To be separated from your loved ones is dukkha indeed. Louise told me that Jeff met an accident while biking with his gang of friends along the Karak highway. By the time his entourage made a u-turn and discovered his body, his pouch with wallet and valuables inside had been stolen. Such is the depravity and cruelty certain people are capable of when greed overrides everything. Louise then said she'll stay overnight for the wake till the service tomorrow, ie. to be there almost 24 hours. Worried for her mental well-being, I asked her why and she said she wanted to be by Jeff side as long as she can. I wanted to share that she can be "with" Jeff by cherishing the thought of him and his good deeds instead of compromising her sleep knowing that she'll need more strength for the service and cremation tomorrow. But I decided to keep quiet and drop by to keep her company in the early hours of the morning when nobody is around.

But earlier in the night, the guys in my gym sparred really hard with me so I came home with my whole body feeling sore and aching, even had a laceration below my left eye. I quickly showered and as I prep myself to visit Louise, typical reluctance came over me: my body is in pain, I barely know Jeff, it's too late, I need to work tomorrow, & lastly, it's my birthday tomorrow. But Buddhism taught me that only the present moment matters, so it's up to me to make a difference, to do what I can while I still can. With this resolve and clarity from a previous experience, I drove my car to the mamak at 2am in the morning and bought 4 packs of hot drinks for Louise. I had no idea what drink she like and I wouldn't wanna call her because I'm sure she'll stop me from coming if I did. I arrived to find her sitting alone in the hall while some of Jeff friends sat outside. She was surprised to see me but seemed glad. She took the pack of hot Milo and chatted with me. I kept quiet most of the time because I felt she needed space to grief and share. Hope I did the right thing compare to some of her more vocal friends.

To following day I attended Jeff's cremation which was a solemn and tearful occasion for many people. Louise's mum, sisters and nephew were there to comfort and support her. Ahh... the beauty of family love. For me, I'm just glad I'm able to support a grieving friend with whatever little I can offer.

This entry is dedicated in memory of Jeffrey Jude Lee.