The outpouring of grief and updates in the FB group called Love and Prayers for Jerlyn left me in a daze. I could only imagine what her family members, her husband, two young sons, and closest friends felt. I am not a family member or a close friend yet I was stricken with sorrow when I read of her passing in FB. We weren’t BFFs, but we weren’t enemies either. We were colleagues, but it went a notch higher than the perfunctoriness of colleagues. It has taken me days to categorize my relationship with Jerlyn because of the anguish I have been feeling and the niggling question of why. Do not get me wrong – I am far from being impervious to sentimentality but I am not inclined to maudlin sentiments either. As I said, Jerlyn and I never had BFF moments. Then it hit me: we were the best of acquaintances, if ever anything like this existed.

People say you will forget a lot of things but never how a person made you feel. I was a complete stranger – an outsider actually – in the workplace Jerlyn and I used to be employed because of my ethnicity, which was wrapped in all stereotypical notions that became too tiring to break. You see, I remember Jerlyn never giving me grief about my ethnicity, which was a welcome respite from the usual experience. She welcomed me and never dictated how I should conform to her norms. She gave her full attention to me even if we were sharing trivialities. I remember us laughing although the topics escape me now. I remember her smile – the kind that starts from the lips and reaches up to her eyes – that I never failed to see whenever we saw each other in the hallway or outside of work.

We lost touch when I left Singapore for a new life in Indonesia and she to Hamlet country. But we caught up with each other again in FB and I never tired of looking at the pictures she posted or was tagged in – wedding, departure from Singapore, her little boys’ shenanigans, shopping with her boys, her new house, Chinese New Year celebration etc. Then I noticed the postings became less; I chalked it up to her being busy with married life and motherhood.

I was greatly mistaken. The FB status of her best friend Ivy Ho that popped up on my newsfeed in April told me all was not well in the universe. I was hoping it was just a slight hiccup in Jerlyn’s universe, but the morning of May 14, as I read Ivy’s status, painted a different ending from the one I had pictured in my mind. That Wednesday was a dark, sad one.

She will be laid to rest tomorrow, May 18. I can picture the funeral cortege decked in white tops, as she requested, en route to the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Crematorium. In my own little send-off from Jakarta, I will light candles for you as you walk towards the white light. Good night, sweet princess.

Good times with Jerlyn and the girls plus Eric.

Good times with Jerlyn and the girls plus Eric.

(Pictures by Tricia Tang and Eric)


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