It has been…an interesting week.
Last Thursday, I attended the wake of an ex-colleague’s father who passed away after battling the evil C. A couple of ex-colleagues were visiting as well so we sat at a table chatting. It’s ironic, isn’t it? That we usually gather at such places (weddings being another). While we were seated at the table chatting in hush tones, one of them received an SMS to say that another ex-colleague’s father (from the same company) just passed away as well. Apparently also due to the big C. I’m talking about cancer, in case anyone’s wondering.
Fast forward to Saturday.
My phone beeped and it was a text message from my colleague, Miss G. It read:
Hi, u know Isaac T? He just graduated this year. He passed away this morning. The wake is from 4pm onwards tomorrow. Pls let me know if you want to go. Thanks.
I blinked. We were at a dog therapy session with Moon and I couldn’t quite comprehend the text message. Whaat? Isaac? My ex-student? Passed away? WHAAAAAT?!!
After a flurry of text messages with Miss G, it slowly sank in. My ex-student, all of 19 years old, has passed away suddenly on Saturday morning. I was in shock. The boy asked if I was ok. I mumbled that I’m in shock. I think I still am.
I’ve taught for close to 7 years and this is the first time that I’ve had to attend the wake of a student. In the cycle of life, this is not right. Not right at all. He had his whole life ahead of him. He was only 19. NINETEEN.
Our last contact was in May this year. It was Graduation Day. He stood out because in a sea of black hair, he had a blonde do. That’s Isaac for you.
He stands out.
I was on the way back to the office after the ceremony while happy graduates stood around taking a gazillion photos. I spotted Isaac (or rather, his blonde hair) in the distance and as our paths crossed, I said: “Hey! We should take a picture together! Your hair’s very funky!”
And this was our last and only photo together. I shouted after him: “Congratulations again, Isaac!” as he was running off excitedly to meet his friends. That was Isaac. Always with a big smile with super high energy levels. I don’t know how he does it but he’s always bouncing around like a hyperactive bunny.
Isaac was in my class for my semester at Sentosa. He was known for being late for class. Most of the time anyway. Each time he walked into class, I’d give him a glare and say: “Isaaaac! Why are you late again?!!” And he’d always have a sheepish expression on his face. “Sorry sorry, cher. I promise I won’t be late again next week. PROMISE”, he’d say. It would always be accompanied by a big cheeky grin. And to be honest, it was hard to be angry with this impish boy.
In the same class was another boy. Let’s call him W. He wasn’t very popular with the rest of the class because he was different. W would usually sit alone because no one wanted to hang out with him. Isaac decided to be his friend. He told me: “Cher, don’t worry! I’d take care of W! I’d take him clubbing and teach him how to be cool!”. Said with his usual cheeky grin, of course.
After news of his passing broke, I had a look at his Facebook page and it was filled with pictures and stories of how he made an impact on someone’s life. His friends started a hash tag on Twitter (#ripisaac) and it was trending for a bit. He was only 19 but made such an impression, everyone who crossed his path had something positive and kind to say.
Truth be told, he wasn’t the smartest or the most obedient student. But I remember Isaac clearly because he stood out. He stood out because he was different. I remember him for:
…always being cheerful, positive and happy.
…always having a big smile on his face.
…wanting to make a difference during his school life.
…having different hairstyles and hair colours.
…his love for dance.
…the countless number of young lives he touched.
Rest in peace, Isaac.