We mostly sat together in class. She would talk about Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Leonardo DiCaprio. We were fourteen. Once when we were waiting for the school bell, she told a group of us about her parents’ Catholic beliefs and how they called a priest to exorcise spirits from her house. It was a lady with a flowing red dress, she said. The sky was thundering and raining heavily outside and we had a sudden power failure. We screamed and giggled. I remember those moments vividly. Mostly of her smile, liveliness and cool stationery.
Death is never polite. It didn’t sink in until I saw her obituary in the newspaper today. She was still smiling beautifully.
I know how to feel but I don’t know what to think. Births and deaths are peculiar ways to gather people together… when you were born, adults gather around to see when you’d take your first step. When you’re dead, friends and family gather around you hoping the doctors made a mistake and that you’d resurrect. Sans zombie-style.
In many ways I wish I knew her beyond high school. I regret having such shallow memories of her, but they were good ones.
I suppose when you pass away your story doesn’t end with you. It starts with the people you loved and those who loved you. They will tell your story for you and others.
If I’m able to contribute anything to the storytelling of her life, I’d retell her house exorcism story.
Ng Shu Zanne, 1983 – 2008.
You are loved.
For all we’ve lost, Iron & Wine’s The Trapeze Swinger.