Believe Me, There Will Be No Next Time

Because there will be no next time

Still feels like a bad dream – except that you’re no longer waking up.

I haven’t been writing for this blog for months now because up to this moment, it still hasn’t sunk in… that you’re no longer here with us. That no one will share the latest One Piece update now. No one will peep on our windows and flash that mischievous grin for no apparent reason at all. No one will rummage around the garage so early in the morning until late at night just to fix anything that’s beyond fixing. No one will help us make sense of what’s happening around the world with your historical theories.

Everyone is trying to cope. But we can all agree that the space you’ve left behind is too big to fill. We’ve all grown so dependent on you that we found it too difficult to navigate our way on our own once again. Why’d you had to leave so early?

I’ve buried myself to work, with marathons, because when my mind is still, everything comes back in a flash: your lifeless body covered in blood-stained sheets. I want to remember you as someone who introduced the wonderful lessons of anime, of Rorouni Kenshin and Monkey D Luffy, to us – and not just some cadaver being retrieved from that abandoned-looking shack. I want to remember how you made us all LSS to the ‘90s boyband, particularly with Westlife – and not just someone who died an untimely death. I want to remember you as a responsible father and husband, who makes ends meet for his family – and not some reckless hobbyist who’s so overly fascinated with speed and stunts. I want to remember you as someone who encouraged us to keep going no matter how exhausting it can be – because everything is possible when you put your heart and mind to it.

I was hesitant to push for my first ultramarathon. It was just a month after your death. I’m not sure if it was the right time to venture after everything that had happened. But I know that more than anything else, you never wanted to become a hindrance to the things that we want to pursue in life. Despite keeping things secret, you’ve even shared how excited you were for my first run. You’ve always been proud of my adventures, a low-key supporter of the things I’ve been randomly passionate about. And this goes to the rest of those dear to you: friends, nephews, colleagues, and everyone you’ve encountered.

I thought Mitch Albom, 39, and all the tragic stories I’ve read (and fictionally written) have prepared and toughened me for death. Well, guess what, we are never prepared for the most painful battles of our lives. It’s easy to say that we’re prepared to die, but when it happens to someone dear to us, the narrative changes. We will always end up wanting for more, hoping for more, praying for more existential moments together.

Everything I believed in about life was altered by your sudden passing. I look at death using a different lens now. And I look at life with clearer specs. I no longer look forward to retirement. While there’s wisdom in saving some for the rainy days, it also makes sense to spend a little luxury if the finances permit.

Now, I want to retract everything I said about YOLO. No, you don’t only live once. Rather, you only die once. So, make the most of your everyday living experience. Spend more time with your family—because while you’re busy adulting, busy growing up, they’re also growing old. You’ll never know when it will be the last time you’ll be with them. Sometimes, later becomes never.

Kol, in whatever multiverse you are in right now, know that you will always be with us. Your thoughts, pieces of advice, and memories will live with us. It’s difficult, but as what your favorite Marvel heroes believe in: maybe you are much needed in some other universe. Maybe we can do it on our own now. Hopefully.

I’m writing this because I want to be reminded. I want to keep these memories intact because this is the only way I know I can repay your kindness, through words. As my favorite writer puts it: some wild things live on forever, sometimes through preservation but more often than not, by the simple act of remembering.

You will always be remembered.