I knew that the late Andrew Voon had many, many friends. Yet I was fairly surprised to see the size of the crowd at his funeral this morning at the All Saints Cathedral, Karamunsing. A fair number of his friends were from faraway places; they came all the way to pay their last respect to this great man.
It's been ages ago since the last time I set foot in a Catholic church, let alone an Anglican church. But the ambience of a church—the huge cross on the altar, the sound of the organ, the rows upon rows of pews—they are generally all the same. I also noticed some modern improvements in terms of air-conditioning and projectors used to project biblical verses or prayers on the wall.
Teo, Jack and Diong amongst others helped to push the casket through the aisle leading to the altar. Jeffrey, Andrew's only son, read a passage from the Bible, followed by the delivery of the eulogy by Andrew's sister. I thought that was well-organised—until the time when the minister started his sermon. After reading a few verses from the Bible, he noted that Andrew died so suddenly and then wondered what would he have said if he could speak.
Addressing the audience, he asked, "What if the dead could speak; what would he say?"
And while everyone in the audience was still recovering from the suddenness of his question, the minister answered himself impressively.
"If Andrew could speak now," he said, "there would be 3 things he would say..."
And then he went on to speculate how Andrew would tell his friends and loved ones about looking after their health; but ultimately to believe in God and Jesus so that their souls would "live forever".
I kinda stirred a bit in my seat when the minister started talking about soul. After all, I don't believe in any religion. Then I thought of Andrew and what I know about his character. Although I'm also speculating, I did not agree with the minister at all.
As a matter of fact, I, too, was thinking about the suddenness of Andrew's death. All of us have the tendency to take things for granted. We may forget or neglect certain things in life until it's too late.
Then it occurred to me that although I couldn't remember the exact day, it must have been almost 3 weeks ago since the last time I reminded Mia that I love her. Andrew's death, though a big blow to all of us, is a wake-up call to me. Sometimes we tend to lose track of time and then forget to say or do the important things in life.
At the first opportunity I had on Sunday morning, I reminded Mia that I love her still; and I'm so glad that she said "yes" to me 19 years ago.
If Andrew had only 3 things he could say, I'm sure one of them would be to tell his wife and children how much he loves them.
But I admit that I'm also speculating, just like the minister.