My friend, Carol Rasiah, was a special person in many ways. One, which is very hard to go unnoticed, is that she was born with a severe form of a disease called osteogenesis imperfecta, which causes brittle bones that fracture and break easily, and in her case, causing growth defects and malformed bones. So she has spent all her life in a wheelchair, and hardly able to move around. What makes her even more special was that even with her condition, she had always been full of joy and gratefulness to God (this is also evident from posts on her blog. And yes, she ripped that music player off my blog, with my permission. Lol. :) ), not to mention she had an incredible will to live life to the fullest. By God's amazing grace, she was able to spend more than 2 years living by herself in an apartment near my condo. Every thing she does which the rest of us able-bodied people take for granted is an incredible task. From getting off her bed into her wheelchair, to using the bathroom, to cooking up a meal... I have no idea how she does it, but somehow she does it all on her own. Of course, when it comes to cleaning up her house, she gets a maid to come in once in a while to help out. I only got to know her in 2008, and during Christmas that year, she asked me to help her put up her Christmas tree, of which I gladly obliged.
Last Christmas, however, I did not hear anything from her, or even received an sms from her during Christmas. Which at one point I thought was quite odd since she would usually sms every now and then, especially on special occasions. But this time she didn't, and I had a nagging feeling that I should give her a call and say hi or something, but I didn't. Now I've learned that nagging feelings should not be ignored. I got news this week that Carol passed away recently. According to her obituary, it stated that she passed away on the 1st of January, however, from reading other online sources, it seems she passed on in early December. And I only knew about it two days ago!
I went to her memorial service today and learned that it was due to a bad accident. Every week, some folks come in a van to pick her up and help her do some chores like shopping and getting a haircut, etc. While in the van, the driver had to emergency brake, and because she wasn't wearing a seatbelt (she's small and it's difficult for her wear a normal seat belt. I think she was also in her wheelchair at the time, which makes it more difficult), she got flung forward. The impact fractured her spine, skull and God knows how many other bones, and she was unconscious in the hospital for days, until she finally gave up her life. The news of how it happened was especially heart breaking to me, because I took her out in my car several times. And every time I would put on the seat belt for her, even though she would laugh and say it wasn't necessary. I would always say "Nonono, you gotta wear your seatbelt!", although I would only strap the bottom part across her, while the part that usually goes across the chest would go behind her back instead, since she was too small and the strap would only go across her face. If only she had followed my advice... she might have survived.
The last time I saw her was on 14 November 09, when she asked me to come to her place and help put up a clock on her wall. It didn't take too long for me to do so, and after that I just chatted with her for a bit, and I remember talking to her about all this online debates about Christianity that I've been getting into, and some of the difficult questions related to our faith. And she just put a big smile on her face and said that even though we don't have all the answers, we should always still put our faith in God. It's just amazing that someone with a debilitating condition like hers can have such faith in God and be so happy, when there are so many able-bodied people out there who do nothing but complain about every piece of crap that happens to them, but not make a peep when good stuff happens. I do feel a bit crappy that I didn't contact her more after that. I feel especially crappy in that I knew she didn't get many visitors, although she wanted people's company, and she even asked me once before if I could be a good friend to her. And not that I didn't enjoy her company, but I know I'm very bad at spending time with people, even good friends, and so I didn't want to disappoint her by making such a promise and then end up not spending as much time with her as she would have liked. I suppose it's normal to feel such regrets when someone is gone, and perhaps it serves as a reminder for us to not take our loved ones for granted and spend time with them while we are still able to.
Nevertheless, although death brings sadness, there is still a cause for joy because I know now she is no longer feeling the pain of her condition and one day I will get to see her again, enjoying an eternal life with a perfect body free of ridiculous birth defects. And when I do see her, first thing I'm gonna say is "I TOLD you so! Why didn't you wear your seatbelt, hur??". Lol. Until we meet again, Carol! :)
My last photo with her, taken when I brought her to my church on October 18, 2009: