Positive to Negative …to Death…

For once I was actually going to write a happy blog post. I’ve been doing a lot of shit lately from writing code, to taking care of a sickly person, to cooking a bunch of awesome shits, to putting out a persistent stove fire (unrelated to my cooking – I didn’t start that fire!). I was going to call this blog post The Incredible Ted of All Trades. It was almost obnoxiously positive. But what do you know, before I got a chance to write that, my mood turned to shit (from identifiable reasons) and I’m back to writing the same old gloomy shit.

The death part just got added to the title. It seems almost inappropriate for me to still write about the positive parts and tack on the death in the end, but I’m going to do that because whatever, fuck it. The past few days actually started pretty good. Let me just reiterate the same old story: my uncle’s very sickly with cancer so I’ve been living with him and my aunt lately to help out. Two days ago, in the afternoon, I heard my cousin and my aunt fighting a stove fire. My cousin was panicky but my aunt was cool-headed so I just watched from afar and let them take care of it. After many seconds, almost a minute, the fire seems to be persisting so I walked over to help. They had an electric stove and they surrounded it with aluminum foil so that it’s easier to clean. The fire seemed to be burning the foil, under the coil, where you can’t reach. My aunt tried to cover the flame with a wet towel to cut off the oxygen, but that didn’t work – the fire could breath through the towel. After trying it three times or so, it was evident that we needed to do more as the fire was getting a little stronger, but not spreading, so we weren’t in any emergency state. My cousin wanted to turn off the stove but the fire was just barely covering the switch and she was too scared to reach in. I reached in and turned it off, all cool and shit.

We needed to find something else to fight the fire with. My aunt just cleaned the stove the day before for Chinese New Year so if it was possible, she didn’t want to do anything drastic that would take forever to clean up again. I suggested that she should try to find more towels to use because the one she was using clearly wasn’t enough. I noticed that the flame was able to breath through the other stovetop coil holes. I opened the oven just to check if the flame has spread below and whether it could breath from there too. I found oven pans and used them to cover all the coil holes. That ought to cut of the air. Because it was covered, I couldn’t see whether the fire was put out. I wouldn’t open it to check because that’ll feed it oxygen again. I felt that the pans got very warm so I had to assume the fire was still alive. I thought of using sand to kill the fire but I knew we don’t have sand lying around so I thought of what would be a feasible substitute for that – maybe flour or other powders. I walked over to my computer to do a quick google search and people have suggested using baking soda. So I started preparing the next step. I asked my aunt for baking soda or flour or other powders and she suggested flour because that was cheaper and more readily available. I didn’t know if flour was flammable so I would’ve started off by sprinkling a bit on the fire to test it. Being logical excuses me from being knowledgeable in problem solving. If flour was flammable, pouring a bunch in right away would cause an explosion. That would’ve been way worse. I was smart enough not to do that. It is probable that flour is flammable too because pastries can burn when they’re overcooked.

I prepared to use flour to attack the fire. I lifted the pan and saw that the fire had died. Problem solved. I still don’t know if flour would’ve stimulated the fire. I can easily google it but I won’t. I already thought of better alternatives. Later that night, I thought about where I might find sand and remembered that it’s winter and there’s snow everywhere. Then I realized that snow might be useful. I could also grab some soil from plant pots inside the house. Now that I have my plans, I’m even less afraid of fire. I’m not deluded into thinking that I saved the house from burning down or anything. In all likelihood, my aunt would’ve been able to successfully beat the fire on her own but I definitely helped end it quicker.

That covers the fire story. I could probably just have this as a post on its own but I’m going to keep going and write about all recent events. … Later that night, my uncle reported that he could no longer see out of the bottom half of his right eye. He had fallen earlier that day, in the morning – when everyone was asleep, so he might have hit his head. I mentioned that he had become kind of retarded already so it’s hard to know what happened but he hadn’t reported any new pains or hitting his head so we just left him alone all day. With the new eye problem, we needed to take him to the emergency room. I drove around and helped carry him a lot. I’ve been doing that a lot lately already. They did CAT scans and x rays and he doesn’t appear to have any new problems. My uncle had to go back to the hospital the next day for dialysis and chemotherapy so we had him stay in the emergency room overnight. I stayed overnight with my aunt. My cousin went home because she had work the next day. I went back to the house to cook some warm food for my aunt and myself to eat at the hospital. The next day, I went back to the house again to cook more food. I cooked quite a lot of pretty good shit. I rarely cook so I give myself even more pats on the back for the quality I was able to dish out. Not only that, but I also cooked a wide variety of things and did it all very quickly and efficiently. I hesitate to list the foods I made because it’s mainly Chinese and won’t sound good to most people. The first night I made ramen, chicken with sticky rice, and potato wedges. These were all frozen shit so no special cooking skills were used there. The second day I fried up some carrot cake, taro cake, and rice cake. I also wrapped up some tortillas with chicken and lettuce. The carrot and taro cakes I basically only needed to make sure I don’t burn but I still did a kickass job frying it to a perfect golden brown. The rice cake took more actual cooking skills, especially when I didn’t have all necessary ingredients in the house. I made some substitutes and cooked it all up awesomely. I actually felt pretty good about myself for once but everything goes downhill from there.

That was the positive section. I think I’m going to skip the negative section because the death section will cover some of the same topics. That last meal I cooked was for yesterday’s dinner. This morning, we were planning to eat out for Chinese New Year, just a little breakfast, and then we would be back in the hospital for the foreseeable future. After we sat down and placed our orders, we got a call from the hospital informing us that my uncle was having difficulty breathing and that we should go see him. When we got to the hospital, I offered to park the car so his wife and daughters can go in quicker. By the time I went into the room, my cousins and my aunt were all crying. He had already died. He died before they got there. (I’m not a fan of euphemisms like saying “passed away”…) He died much sooner than we expected. I don’t have many unique thoughts about the way he died so I’ll skip that. I may dedicate an entire post for that another day, but I won’t get into it now. The way I see it, my uncle has been dead for a while now. I lived at his house with him for about 4 weeks, right after he discharged from palliative care. He was in there because he wanted to die already. The first week I was with him, he was pretty much still alive. He seemed extremely depressed and bored with life, but he still tried to talk and watch tv every so often. He got bored of those very quickly, but at least he tried. For the last three weeks, he just sat and lied around with absolutely no joy. Nobody bothered talking to him anymore. They “talked” to ask him whether he needs water or food or to move and stuff, but no real conversations. His daughters in particular tried to talk to him every so often, but he didn’t seem to care and even his daughters didn’t bother trying to talk to him anymore in the past week. I’m not saying my cousins did anything wrong, because their dad would often look annoyed at their feeble attempts to converse with their dumb stories from work. Basically, his life was over already and his body just carried on for another few weeks.

I wrote all that because I was a bit bothered at all the crying. I wasn’t bothered because I think crying is weak or some shit like that, but I was bothered because it seemed almost fake to me. The reason I say that is because he was already dead to them, socially. He couldn’t talk, he couldn’t write. He didn’t want to talk even if he could. The night before, my cousins were just chatting away at his bedside with their normal chatter. At one point, I think I heard my uncle shoo them away because they were annoying. Sure, their dad was sick for years and they can’t go on feeling down about it forever, but that’s the thing, they’re already over it. The actual death itself shouldn’t be that big a deal. I’m not doubting that they genuinely felt sad and wanted to cry, but it just frustrates me that I don’t understand how most people feel. Is it only because I don’t have anyone I currently love and care for? That’s part of it, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Some people might say I would feel different if it were my own parents. I highly doubt that. While everyone was crying, I didn’t cry at all. I don’t know if that looked bad, as if I was being too cold. I think the coolest look would be to maintain complete composure (no red eyes or nose) but with a few tears sliding down my face. (Prior to this, the night before, while I was bored overnight in the emergency room, I remembered an earlier blog post where I mentioned I was so depressed, I’m probably constantly less than a minute away from crying if I just don’t hold it back. I tested that out and I was able to shed a few tears without needing to try too hard.) I brought up that parenthetical story because I didn’t try to do that just to “look cool” based on the image I described earlier. This whole death thing is not about me.

They cried next to the body for about an hour. During that time I yawned a few times and some tears came out. I don’t think those tears count but I thought it was related enough to mention. Now that I’m on tangents, I also thought it might be funny to tickle a severely depressed or emo person to see them laugh involuntarily. I don’t know… I guess that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say about this. I thought I might have more to say about the death-sadness thing but I guess I don’t. Hey, maybe I am affected by death after all.