13 October 2019
Acrylic paint on canvas
Yesterday I visited Pao who is in the last stage of colon cancer. Wittaya, her husband, told me earlier she doesn't have much time left, so I decided to visit her with my wife. Upon seeing her, I could feel that her health had changed drastically. She was so feeble she couldn't walk without support. She kept complaining of a stomachache and couldn't really hold a conversation. She needed morphine and CBD oil to soothe the pain and help her sleep. Wittaya said that she thinks and worries too much, thus exacerbating her condition. She's always been scared of death since she was young and hates any mention of it. To her, it's inauspicious to talk about dying.
Before leaving, we bade her farewell. I held her hand and tried to console her, telling her to focus on breathing in and out to take her mind away from the pain. I advised her to do her best to remain joyous and cheerful, to let go of all the worries, and to forgive those who have done her wrong and instead extend loving-kindness not only to those people, but also to everyone and everything that she has crossed paths with. I told her to stop worrying about the future and that we must all come to this stage of life. We shall die one day, as death is the natural order of things. Therefore, it's important to live in the present. Though we don't know what the future holds, we can still make the present as joyous and cheerful as possible. I told her not to worry about her husband and children, for they're all grown up, so she can now put her mind at ease. Pao wordlessly squeezed my hand in acknowledgment
Once I arrived home, I wondered, if I were her, would I be able to do what I had advised her to do? It wouldn't be easy. I think that we should all make time to ruminate on death every day, or better yet, every moment of our lives, so that we can always stay mindful and prudent, even when the end is near. Today, October 12, 2019, I ran into Wittaya and Sam, his daughter, at Jingjai Market and got a chance to ask for their consent to paint a picture of Pao out of my memory. I want it to serve as a reminder of the last stage of life, because, sooner or later, it will happen to all of us.