Time and Regret...a cautionary tale...
When I first started writing these blogs, I never knew what
they would mean to me. I was told it would be therapeutic, enlightening, and so
many other things that would uplift and bring positivity to my life.
While I am not sure of all of that I know it has given me a
chance to get things off my chest, things that I have held for so long and am
unable to tell people and furthermore do not want to tell people. Believe it or
not, for such a supposed outgoing person I am a shy, and very jaded individual
that spends a lot of his time in overly thinking things because I do not give
myself the opportunity to open up to people. But I hope that as I write more,
and people read more, it shall explain me to them, explain me to me, and why I
am the way I am
Recently when my father was in town we were sitting down to
have one of our many neighbourhood Lebanese meals and he told that having read
some of my posts that he realized that I knew what mistakes I had made in my
first stint of college and that he saw regret. He had never known that I
regretted anything, I guess that makes sense, I tend to move forward from
things that I want to forget, but all it does is make it so I do not need to
discuss it, but it says in back of my brain burrowing a hole that I want to hid
in like so many of my experiences.
This notion of regret made me think, I damaged my future, my
health, my relationship with members of my family, and had damaged the
relationship between my parents for those years that I was in Boston as they
fought to come up with fixes to all my issues.
How could I not regret, I had hurt the people I love the
most, pilfered away so much money that I had seen my father work so hard for,
and most of all; wasted time. Time….. Something that no matter how good looking
you are, smart you are, or rich you are; can ever get back once it is gone.
In one way I was relieved that after all these years of him
not thinking I gave a damn he was able to see that I know how much damage I had
done, and how sorry and grateful I was for all the opportunities, support, love,
and chances that they did not need to but still gave me. At the same time, I
was also a bit upset, thinking that he thought I was some nonstop partying
money blowing robot that could not or would not see the consequences of the
decisions I had made and the impact of them on myself and the people around me.
This made me think, time…regret…..regret….time and how
damaging the combination can be, and I thought perhaps I could help by telling
you a little story, a little chapter of my life, something that has eaten away at
me for 14 years, and that I have never been able to tell a soul because I am
ashamed and live with the pain every single day, perhaps we could call
it…..Time and Regret….A Cautionary Tale……..
When everything was falling down around me in Boston in Jan
1999 my parents made the bold decision to pull me out of college and were determined
to not let me go back until I was ready for it no matter how long it took. They
decided they would rather have their son in one piece at home, then in many
pieces scattered across the Boston University campus.
It was a bold move for them, and a horrible one for me, I
left behind all my friends, my possessions everything that I had known for the
last 4 years to move to Singapore. Singapore, a place I knew no one, was given
no phone, and given no money, and was set-up interning at Citibank with a
monthly salary that I would have blown in an hour partying in the US. But we
all adjusted, they adjusted to me being at home, and I adjusted to slowly
making myself a working contributing normal member of society and of my family.
I spent my time playing squash with dad, hitting Tuesday
night movie matinees with mum, and watching my little sister slowly develop
into the princess she is today. A lot of Sundays were spent at a specific
Starbucks on Orchard Road where I would just watch the rain come down and
people watch for hours and hours at a time enjoying the crisp tropical rain.
It was there that one day that a gangly tall pale Polish
Canadian teenager asked me if he could sit at my table with his coffee to get a
temporary respite from the rain. He sat, we chatted, and Jerrod Smart over the
next three years become one of the closest friends to me I have ever had. He
was a younger smarter version of me; someone that I knew was destined for
greatness. We shared the same love of Iced Espressos at Starbucks, rocked out
to Marilyn Manson and Alice in Chains, and loved getting cold pitchers of Tiger
and just shooting the shit. There was not one day that we did not see each
other or talk to each other that whole year I was in Singapore.
1999 came to a close and my parents deemed me fit for
college and I trekked off to school in Australia leaving behind one of my best
friends. We chatted all the time, shared stories, and always looked forward to my
vacation time in Singapore, nothing changed, I was away, but in spirit it was
as if I had never left Singapore or him.
It was during a trip in December 2001 that I had a day
stopover before going to see a friend in Cape Town and called Jerrod to see if
he was free to meet. He had some plans, and was trying to change them to make
time, and I remember being angry and annoyed that I wasn’t first priority. I
was supposed to call back and see if he was free, and never did as I went home,
slept, packed and flew to Cape Town the next morning. After a great week in
Cape Town New Year’s rolled around and as I was getting ready to hit the town I
thought of my old friend in Singapore. This was the first New Years in three
years I was not going to be with him, and to be honest I kind of wished I was.
I fired of an email wishing him a Happy New Year, and that I missed him, he was
my brother, and that I could not wait to catch up with him when I was back. I
clicked send, jumped in a cab, and went out to have drinks to say good bye to
It was a good night, and as usual I overdid it, and woke up
with a killer hangover. I stumbled down the stairs wishing my hosts a sheepish
good morning and sat down at the computer to check my email hoping Jerrod had
written back giving 2002 a good start.
As the email fired up I saw an email from .com.sg and knew
it was him or my parents checking in on how 2002 had received me.
I proceeded to read an email from Jerrod’s parents about how
he had gone out that night, came home very upset, and then left the house again
never to return. They later found out that he had committed suicide by jumping
off one of the main hotel buildings on the strip in Singapore. I was aghast, shell
shocked, and just felt sick to my stomach. I called my mum to get some solace
and she mentioned that she had vaguely heard something about it on the news
somewhere and did not know it was him.
I lost a friend, a brother, and piece of me that day, and the
world lost a young soul that was destined for so much greatness. 14 years have
passed since this happened, and I still feel regret for not calling him back to
see if we could meet, I regret not being there with him in the one New Year’s
Eve he needed me the most and I wish I could relive all the time I had with him
all over again. His family shortly moved from Singapore as the pain was too
much as it was for all of us then as it is now. To this day I am still in touch
with his baby sister who is just as special to me as he was. She just got
married and is turning out exactly like I am sure he would have wanted, a
bright, beautiful young woman that would make anyone proud. I see all of him in
her, and am glad to still be able to cling on to him and our memories through
Ironically for two kids that spent so much time together I
do not have one picture of us together and do not know if there were any at all.
I do however have one picture of him that I can see vividly in my head every
time I recollect, but whose original is locked away as it is just too painful
to look as it is if his eyes pierce the paper and disappear into me. As much as
I miss him, I also curse him for always coming to mind when I hear Nutshell by
Alice in Chains which he introduced me to. Over the years every version of it
has become my favourite and ironically Layne Staley who wrote and sang the
original also committed suicide by taking a lethal overdose of heroine, and
just like Jarrod was another brilliant tortured soul that ironically passed in
As I end this piece I have not gotten the closure I wanted,
but I knew that. I have now learnt to hold my tongue a little more than I used
to, and to use it to let the people I care about know it every day and to never
miss a moment with them letting them know how truly special they really are.
There is honestly no point in loving someone so strongly if
they do not know it and do not feel it. I hope that you take away from this
rambling piece of prose that life is fleeting, time stops for no one, and
regret is a never ending buffet of pain, and guilt. Hold them, love them, and
live each moment as if it was your last…cuz it just might be…….