Perhaps some of you may wonder if walking through the Heathrow departure lounge trying to stop sobbing gets any easier the second time round. It doesn’t. You can deal with it differently – I hid behind the Telegraph until the plane was well into the air this time, instead of pressing myself against the window shuddering – but either way, things get soggy.
* * *
I got home having had no or very little sleep due to the two louts behind me who spent most of the London-Bangkok flight loudly telling a Thai woman about their girlfriends in Thailand (Graham has two, Ashley only has one, I think), and later due to the need to not fall asleep in Bangkok airport and miss my transfer. My mother then informed me that it was my Sunday obligation to attend 6 pm mass instead of the solemnization ceremony later that day of the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends. Never mind that I had deliberately shortened my initially planned holiday just so that I could be at her wedding. Apparently, Pei Ee would “understand” me missing the most important part of the wedding since I would be present at the big banquet later which is usually far more meaningful to a couple’s parents than the couple themselves.
An argument, much stress, and a tearful call to Alec later, I took the drastic step of text messaging Pei Ee seeking confirmation that no, she would not fucking “understand”. Confirmation came in the form of Pei Ee actually sending her bridal car to pick me up from my home and take me to Sentosa. Within half an hour, I wriggled into my dress, threw stockings, makeup and hair products into a bag, and rode to Sentosa in the front seat.
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Attending a wedding just hours after parting from Alec at the departure gates was never going to be easy. This poem was read at the wedding dinner, and I hope the couple will forgive me for co-opting it to describe my own feelings.
And in Life’s noisiest hour,
There whispers still the ceaseless Love of Thee,
The heart’s Self-solace and soliloquy.
You mould my Hopes, you fashion me within;
And to the leading Love-throb in the Heart
Thro’ all my Being, thro’ my pulse’s beat;
You lie in all my many Thoughts, like Light,
Like the fair light of Dawn, or summer Eve
On rippling Stream, or cloud-reflecting Lake.
And looking to the Heaven, that bends above you,
How oft! I bless the Lot that made me love you.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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As I was leaving the dinner later that night, I shook Tjin Kai’s hand meaning to congratulate him and say something merry. All I managed was “Take care of her” before I started tearing up and hastily moved on out of the ballroom. It might just have been residual waters from what I had already shed that weekend, but I’d like to think it had nothing to do with me, or the man I had had to leave behind at Heathrow, or the old life I had briefly lived again in London only to have to abandon once more. I think it was just about Pei Ee, the gem of a friend who I have loved for 18 years and is now blissfully happy. Congratulations, Pei Ee and Tjin Kai. I wish you all the love and joy in the world.