It was 9.55am when I first read about it last Saturday. I was busy packing my stuff for one night away from home. I had the chance to log in to my Facebook in the midst of the packing. And then I saw it. The heartbreaking news.
"Isteri saya telah pulang ke rahmatullah pada pukul 9.30 pagi ini. Innaalillahiwainnailaahiraji'u
n. Doakan supaya dia ditempatkan di kalangan org beriman."
I had to stop everything I do and sit down. I SMS-ed Dian, another friend about the news. She's gone. She's really gone. I told myself that I will accept whatever Allah has written for her. He knows the best. She won't be suffering anymore. She has gone to a better place, this friend of mine. So I blinked back my tears. I held on to what little strength I have. I told myself I need to hold myself together for the next two days. I have a job to do. And I'm going to do it no matter what.
So for two days, I let the thought of Sheila tucked securely behind a thin wall of my mind. Sometimes, the thought would sneak in, threatening to unravel its sorrow on me. But I pushed it back. Until last night, when I had the world to myself. Slowly, Sheila's face played in my mind. And along with her, the memories surfaced.
There were the nights when we would hang around at the playground behind our rented flat. We would sit on the bench, licking away at our ice creams. While we talked and laughed. We talked of so many things. Our families, our friends, our studies. We talked about boys and other little things girls will talk about. She would always be the one who'd crack jokes and tease me.
There was that time we were studying together for our finals and she broke down and cried. The stress got to her. And all four of us ended up crying as well. But we laughed at the silliness of it after a while. We laughed so hard that the neighbor came knocking at our door, asking us to shut up as it was already late into the night. That brought fresh laughter, though muted.
Then there were the times when we had our meals together in the house, or at the mamak restaurant near to the house, or at the campus' cafe. Or the time when we walked together to have our dinner at Bawal Power. The times we had in the classes. And the one time she comforted me when problem rose between me and some of my friends. She was there when my tears came trickling down at the betrayal of my so-called best friend.
The short time I had with Sheila, it was more vivid than all the times I was in Penang for my study. I don't remember having any arguments or fights with Sheila. I don't even remember if I've ever been angry with Sheila. Not once. I guess the kind of friendship we have is one that is in complete understanding with each other. God, how I miss all that time we had together.
The last time I saw Sheila was at her husband's majlis menyambut menantu. She looked so pretty. She looked well despite losing the first child she was carrying. I couldn't tell just how much pain and sorrow were hidden behind her smiling face resulting from the miscarriage. My heart went out to her for the brave front she puts on. She's like that, that Sheila. She's tough. We changed few words during the function and I managed to hug her. Little that I know that it would be the last time for me to see her, hear her voice and hold her.
Sorrow and grief hit me with such force that I could not breathe. I lose a friend. A friend that has been so good to me. A friend that never asked anything in return. A friend that made me laugh. A friend who waited for me to get on the bus heading home before she headed home herself. I cried like the day I cried when I lose my father. Yes, I accept it. Yes, I am redha with her passing away. But I had to mourn for that friend I lose, the friend that I will never have the chance to hear her laughter again. The friend who just got married to the man she loved last September.
Rest easy now, Sheila. You've been such a good friend in your life. That's why so many people are mourning for your loss. You've made your presence felt in so many lives, especially your loved ones. Rest now, my friend. There is one special place in my heart that you'll live forever. I'm gonna miss you alright, but I know right now, you're in a better place. I love you, Sheila. And goodbye, my dear friend.