I was feeling a little under-appreciated one day and that odd moment had brought me to think more deeply about the value of one’s existence.
I mean, sure, we have been told a lot of times that we have to be of value to our country by contributing to it; we have to be of value of our schools; we have to be of value to our society.
But then I realized, not every contribution made would be taken into accounts through recording, and indeed, not every contribution needs to be written down in black and white. It is just that people who are contributing to the society in one way or another, in good ways or in bad ways, in trickles or in floods are dying everyday and almost no one would know about them.
Apart from their family and friends of course, and that brings me to my epiphany that one’s existence is very much determined by one’s family.
Take me for example. To my school, I am just one student out of the hundreds to thousands; to my country, I am just one citizen out of the several million; to this world, I am even more insignificant, a mere shadow among the 6 billion people.
But to my family, I am priceless.
To my mom, I am her only child, her love and her hope. To my dad, I am the pesky kid of his who always asks him to turn down the volume of the TV because I need to sleep. To the rest of my family, I am a important, irreplaceable member whom they love deeply. We can argue, bicker and get annoyed with each other, but we know that there is no better people to be family members than our own family members.
Imagine if you were to die one day, what would the rest of the world know?
Maybe your friends will be sad, your best friend sadder, your school acknowledges your death and your nation has really no idea because people die. All the time.
But it is your family who will grieve so long and so hard, remembering every glorious (but now painfully sweet) moment they have spent with you. They will remember your eccentricities and idiosyncrasies that define you.
They will recall how you refuse to eat carrots and broccoli and how you used a potty till you are six years old.
They will remember how they spent your past birthdays with you and now devastated because there are no more birthdays left.
They will remember you as a cheeky, naughty but nonetheless sweet and caring family member whom they were always able to confide in, but now you are not there.
It gets worse for your family as they sit down for dinner and then realized that they took an extra set of utensils because you weren’t there anymore.
Then they sit down to watch television after dinner, laughed at a funny part and turning back to see your reaction only to realize that there was no reaction to see.
It gets bad. It gets so bad because there is this hollow, empty void in their lives where you use to be, and like a bruise, it hurts whenever it is touched.
Maybe it will get better.
Maybe one day your family can visit your family’s favorite restaurant again calmly, but imagine if the waiter you are so familiar with happened to ask,
“Hey, where is _______? Haven’t seen him/her for a while.”
The smiles will slip a little off their faces, your mom’s lips will tremble a little as she looked down while your dad will breathe deeply and tell the poor waiter, “He has gone to a better place.”
Human memories are indeed frail. But not when it comes to remembering a person whom they spent decades and decades with, remembering and cherishing, loving and caring for. Every year, without fail, they will remember you and grieve all over again missing you so badly while the rest of the world has long moved on.
Maybe the rest of the world has not even stopped in the first place.
But the time for your family has stopped when you left. Every agonizing moment felt like a million hours to them, it can take years for them to reconcile themselves with reality and move on.
Sometimes they move on with life, but not from you. They take memories of you with them.
See, that’s how you have measured your existence. When someone remembers you, when someone loves you even when you are not here, and when someone truly cares for you.
If you have had no family or anyone to remember you after you leave this world, it would be like you never existed.
Like you were never even here.
There are so many regrets in life, some small, some great. But I think the most painful regret is that when you realize that you have not spend enough time with your family or done the things for them when you should have, or simply tell them that you love them and you care for them.
People die far too quickly and far too often, and it is the greatest tragedy that family members leave too quickly too.
Treasure your family members, love them just as they have loved you. Spend quality time with them. Don’t stay angry at each other for too long. Don’t stop talking to each other because of one misunderstanding or quarrel. Apologies first even though you have done nothing wrong, I do that, because with family, right and wrong has never been so important.
Starting with myself, I am going to put down my grudge against my grandmother and my dad and try to embrace them, I will love my extended family more, and love my parents more deeply. I will treasure and cherish my mom and my family, and I hope that all of you will do the same:)