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Monday, November 03, 2003 


It's been a while since I last wrote. The past two weeks have been a bittersweet and surreal time for me. My last lecture. My last tutorial. My last...

The 'last' list is endless, and the worst 'lasts' are the ones I don't realise until they've past. Two Fridays ago - 23 Oct - was the last COSDU session for this semester and for me (at least for the foreseeable future). It was a mini-affirmation session of sorts. There was plenty of emotion, but it was kept in check partly because time was limited. Lydia asked me after the session why I didn't say anything. Well, I did share a bit, but obviously it was the tip of the iceberg. I told her that if I had said all that I wanted to say, we'd have been at Kenny Lounge the entire night. Also, I personally don't like this idea of finality. It's slow death of sorts. We know it's coming. We know it's inevitable. But affirmation is important. Testimony is important. It's life-giving.

But there are these things called exams, assignments, essays and projects. Which is why we are in University. Or is it? Conventional wisdom dictates that these are the be-all and end-all. What's getting in the way of what? I don't know. Come to think of it, I don't know if what I'm writing is making sense any more. (Taking Sr. Theresa's advice to a good friend and applying it to myself. What you read is usually the result of careful consideration, re-writing and editing. This time, it's just me typing away. It's raw.)

Consider this. I'm procrastinating. I've gone past my personal deadlines but still have ample time to hand in my essays. That leaves me with less time to do important things. Like express my feelings for the friends I will miss when I depart. And yet, I adamantly refuse to write any more testimonials on friendster. Why? Stated reason: I have plenty of other ways to procrastinate. Actual reason: Refusal to let go of friends down under.

So much so that *gasp* I considered for just a moment - a brief, fleeting moment during the homily at St. Carthage's on All Souls' Day - about getting a PR and working here.

Nah. Singapore needs me more than this land of golden soil and wealth for toil. And I certainly don't need Australia. Anyway, the crux of all this is time. Too much to do, too little time. Maybe I will write those testimonials. It's not like I'm stressed out by my essays and exams anyway. =P

Fast foward to Exam Mass. Christine spoke about Patsy. It was heart-wrenching stuff. Tears were on the verge of streaming. Perhaps they should have. It's not easy to lower our emotional defences in full view of familiar and not-so-familiar eyes. Lydia gave a heartfelt sharing about the graduating COSDU members. I was touched deeply and completely. If ever any of our involvement with COSDU could be summarised into succint encomium, Lydia has done so, with humour, eloquence, sincerity and love. Thank you, Lydia.

I wrote the following for the Exam Mass edition of the COSDU newsletter. And I want to share it with everyone. It may be a little repetitive, but it's worth repeating:


I've been pondering hard about what to write ever since Joanne asked me to pen something - long or short - about COSDU. Somehow, I can't seem to get very far but it's not because I don't have anything good to say. On the contrary, I think there's just too much to say.

COSDU has been like a family to me.

No, let me be more precise.

COSDU is family to me. There's our Father, God. Plenty of 'mothers' full of care and concern. Brothers and sisters to chat with, to share with, to argue with and to love. We try to be welcoming to all, and we're fiercely protective of our own.

I'm fortunate to have been part of COSDU. I don't think I thank God enough for each and every one of you. Most of you are a short walk or an Optus Time phone call away. I take that for granted sometimes. Soon enough, that will change for those graduating and returning home.

That's one of the things I'm going to miss: being in close physical proximity to most of you. It's quite different having lived 'far away' in North Melbourne, compared to my current place in Carlton, at the doorstep of Uni, Chaplaincy, Lygon Street and most importantly, the majority of COSDU.

It's going to take some getting used to. Not being able to walk over to kacau others. No Friday night sessions. No monthly mass. No friendly faces in Chaplaincy. No laughs at La Porcella. No waiting to decide if we want to go to La Porcella. No daily lunchtime Rosary or Bible sharing... I could go on.

What I have, what we have, is common experience. We have shared pleasant and not-so-pleasant memories: Easter Camps, Confirmations and Baptisms, the Central Australia trip, the Grampians trip, rockclimbing, movies, meals, sports, watching footy, the Tulip farm, the COSDU forum debacle, committee disagreements, finding out about Sulina's leukaemia. Once again, I could go on.

Suffice to say, I treasure these. I treasure these because of the people who were with me. I am divided as to whether I should mention names. On one hand, there have been so many individuals who I must mention. People who have listened to me, been there for me, taken care of me, cooked for me... People who have shown their best and worst sides to me and likewise, I have shown my best and worst to them. And yet, we still accept and love each other.

On the other hand, I hold everybody in COSDU close to my heart. Even if we are not really close, I have to say that everyone's presence enhances COSDU, makes is a vibrant and loving community. A family. Sometimes, it's just a few words or a smile that can make my day and I wouldn't want to leave out anyone who has in some way been a part of my life. I suppose I'll not mention names here and have a good chat with those I need to thank personally.

I'm feeling a great sense of loss as I'm writing this. Time is so short. Two weeks remain of my final semester in University. One month of exams, and then... the end? Why did I bother? Isn't it better to have kept to myself? If I didn't risk getting to know others, I wouldn't risk having to part. It's so much easier to do that but that's not what I wanted. When I joined COSDU, I gave my all. For me, if there's no risk in a relationship, it's not love. It's just a mechanical attachment if a relationship is iron-clad. So, in giving my all, I now feel sad that I have to leave.

Although it may be the end of my time in Melbourne, it's not the end of my relationships with friends in COSDU. People just don't come and go. They are only fleeting if we let them drift out of our lives. We don't just live in Carlton or in Parkville. We live in each other's hearts and minds. We can keep in touch... although it won't be the same. Still, it's important to maintain that link. If we don't then it's truly a loss. If we don't, the point of our bonds here seems hopelessly futile. I'm sad to leave but I don't think my relationships here have been in vain.

All of you are wonderful. Keep on being a family away from home. Keep on growing in Christ. God Bless!


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