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Life is like a garden

By Yifan_Zhou ( Updated: 2015-03-04 17:40

“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP*.” 

This was actor Leonard Nimoy’s final tweet.

It seems that winter is the season of both reunion and farewells. While Chinese people return to their hometown - by air, train, car, motorcycle, on foot or by any other means - to reunite with family and friends at Chinese New Year, we cannot help but notice that the light of some stars in the sky have faded as people say goodbye to their loved ones for the last time.

In January Granny Wan, who was at the nursing home for seniors I frequently visit, passed away. I cannot say I was familiar with her; it took some time to put a face to the name. Nonetheless, death has its impact on the human heart just the same. I knew that every time I saw those elders could be the last, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. 

Last time I visited the nursing home I went to see Granny Fu. The social workers told me her husband has passed away - another life taken by the coldness of winter. 

Granny Fu lives at the nursing home because it is close to the hospital her husband was in. She didn’t mention her husband, but she looked different. Her hair was all white and the wrinkles on her face and around her eyes seemed to have grown deeper. 

She smiled at the sight of me, and asked about the leaves at Fragrant Hills: “How red are they?” 

To an outsider, she was coping with her husband’s passing as well as possible.

But I knew she had asked me that question before. Twice, actually.  The last time was less than two weeks ago. Besides, it was winter.

When she walked out of the nursing home with her granddaughter by her side, Granny Fu smiled contentedly. I didn’t say much for I thought her granddaughter, as family, could make her feel better in ways I could never achieve. All I did was stare at her back, which was not as straight as I remembered, and wish her the best. 

Months later came news that my dad’s cousin had died after Chinese New Year. I don’t remember ever meeting him as my dad has a big family with lots of brothers and sisters, cousins and nephews. But he was part of the family and any death in a family causes sorrow and grief, however distant we may have been.

And now, one day later, I learn about Leonard Nimoy.

I cannot call myself a “Trekkie”. I haven’t even finished watching all of Star Trek: The Original Series, but Nimoy, as Mr Spock, really stood out for me. The show itself always makes my heart race; the desire to explore, the courage to investigate the unknown, the acknowledgement of other life and civilizations equal to our own, the greatness of humanity. Compared to the romance of the cosmos, all other secular “romances” are nothing to me. It was because of Star Trek, and Nimoy in particular, that I began to wonder about our place in the universe. And now, to me, he is out there with the stars.

Life is like a garden and life is fragile. We never know what will happen tomorrow, who will stay with us and who will say goodbye. And we can never go back to “the good old days”. The perfect moments are preserved in our memories. They will stay with us as long as we wish to recall them, and they will be there to give us the strength to carry on. 

Death strikes us at the most unexpected moments. Before our time comes, the choice is ours to cherish life while we still have it, to make the best of it (whatever “best” means for us), and to love and care about the people we have and who we hold dear.

The sky is tinted purple by the neon lights, but now I have a reason to look up at the stars.

Live long and prosper.

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