I am grateful that there are still people who really do care about the welfare of others in our midst.

Treasure life and live it to the fullest – by leesan

HAVE you watched the Netflix original Korean drama Move To Heaven? My friend Joan said she cried her way through the whole series!

The show reminded her of what happened to her in real life barely a month ago. Her ex-classmate, who used to be humorous and talkative, was infected with Covid-19 and did not survive it. He was only 45.

Upon securing consent from the deceased’s family members, who lived far away, Joan and her other friends went through all the stuff left behind by their old classmate. Saddened by what they saw – old and familiar items that brought back so many memories – the group had to stop work several times to compose themselves.

Joan said to me, “Seeing pictures we took together from primary to secondary school, and then travelling to Kuala Lumpur together to start our working lives … He was always vibrant and healthy.

“I really cannot accept that this is actually happening! Everything went so wrong in just a matter of days. He was rushed to the ICU, but we still had to surrender him to the virus…”
What made it even sadder was the fact that the man’s family and friends were only able to say their goodbyes via a video-conferencing session. This sad scene has been happening for so long now; coronavirus is a serious problem, guys!

Get vaccinated, get protected.

Lately, I have been receiving messages from social workers urgently seeking donations to purchase coffins and hold funerals for Covid-19 victims, some of whom are either penniless, do not have any family, or stay too far from their loved ones.

I am grateful that there are still people who really do care about the welfare of others in our midst.

As a matter of fact, we actually need more people who are willing to donate not just money, but their time and energy to help the victims of Covid-19, and also to see them off from this world with compassion and dignity.

I once saw the British movie Still Life, about a man selflessly helping to handle the funerals of strangers. For many years, his job was to take care of the “last mile” of unclaimed bodies from morgues, as if he was the only surviving family member of the deceased.

He begins with applying to the local council for funds to cover expenses for the coffin, burial site, church service, etc. He then looks for any friends or relatives of the deceased, and tells them about the funeral.

But more often than not, no one comes to the service, and he is the only person at the funeral.
Unfortunately, due to a shortage of funds, the local council is forced to stop his service, which means he is now out of a job.

But, this guy still feels like it is his duty to help, so he keeps doing it and paying for things out of his own pocket.

When the man dies, he is “sent off” by the many “souls” he helped earlier.

The movie is very touching and like Move To Heaven, it focuses on that little ray of hope you see when people do selfless acts like arranging for a stranger’s funeral or handling the stuff left behind by them.

Departures is another similar movie, this time produced in Japan. It was the country’s submission for the 2009 Oscars’ Best Foreign Language Film award.

The movie revolves around a ritual mortician who painstakingly prepares the bodies of the deceased and drapes them in their most favourite clothes before sending them off to another world.

A poster of Still Life, a movie about a man who helps arrange for the funerals of strangers.

The writer and his travel buddies at Sepilok, Sabah last year during the recovery movement control order. He hopes the tourism industry in Malaysia will be able to restart once vaccination rates increases. –LEESAN

But let’s get back to the real world. Today, new mutant variants of the coronavirus keep evolving and they are said to be able to spread much faster through the air. The variants are so scary that morticians are no longer allowed to touch the bodies of Covid-19 victims. The SOP now is to have the bodies cremated as soon as possible.

We all know what the new normal is to stay alive, but it has never once crossed our minds that even the dead have to be treated according to new SOPs.

So far more than 3.75 million Covid-19 related deaths have been recorded worldwide, many of which left without being able to see loved ones or having a final conversation with them.

But these victims have unknowingly left us with a very useful lesson, and that is to constantly remind ourselves that we must keep facing life positively to fight the virus and protect all the people around us. Treasure life, and live it to the fullest!

Ask yourself: Do you still have a thousand excuses to not follow the SOP, and to think that the virus will not get to you?

P/S: While I wrote this article to pay tribute to the departed souls claimed by the virus, it is also meant to inspire the living to learn to appreciate life, protect themselves and their loved ones.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. Leesan, the founder of Apple Vacations, has travelled to 132 countries, six continents and enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He has also authored two books.

Published in STAR 2, 3 July 2021