After 2 weeks of gloom and doom, I'll like to think of brighter days ahead.
Last Sunday, Wan Yew Leong our former president of the Pacesetters Athletics Club initiated an impromptu memorial run for Ngae followed by breakfast. The turn-out was overwhelming. Wan commented that it was as good as a 30km practise run that he executed some years back. No doubt about that. Many came wearing their sarongs for the very first time (yours truly included) to run and some even ran barefooted (Ngae's trademark). Not that easy but we did it in memory of this man, our fellow runner and friend. I'm sure Ngae will be happy to know that so many of his friends from all over turned up to honour and remember him this way.
At 6am, the Bukit Aman carpark was already filled up with cars and runners were seen busy putting up our bibs 'In Memory Of Ngae Koh Hieng'. At 6.30am sharp, the event began with a short speech by Wan Yew Leong and a touching message from Ngae's wife delivered by Juliana Ali (Ngae's team-mate during the Langkawi Ironman 2009). We then observed a minute of silence after which, everyone was free to run their own distance.
I chose to walk with Lyn, Jenny Lee, Jenny Lim, Wern Jun, Siew Yin, Kien Ho and for the first time, Sofian's wife Tip joined us. She doesn't come out often and that Sunday, she came because of Ngae. We were unusually quiet in the begining. Perhaps, each of us, has our way of reminiscing our friendship with Ngae. Later Lok Chan Chuen caught up with us and broke the ice.
As we chatted, we realized that most of us shared similar feelings we had for Ngae. Feelings of deep regrets, of shame and of guilt. If only one of us cared enough to visit him...if only someone sensed it coming...if only we bothered...if only we knew.
This is life, very often things happened and we are left with...if only.
On that fateful Saturday, while John and I together with a group of volunteers from Pacesetters were busy distributing the New Balance 15km bibs to runners...
while we were packing goody bags and preparing some other stuffs...
while others were having tea and joking or perhaps, some went on a shopping spree..
There was a man, our friend facing his darkest hour. He was not an ordinary man we know - he had run 100km to raise fund for a kidney patient. He survived a 7 day challenge of the Marathon Des Sable running 243km across the Sahara. He conquered 3 Ironmans, did numerous Triathlons and ran countless marathons (barefooted and in his sarong)! He was an ultra runner extraordinaire.
But that evening he was hit by the pangs of loneliness...in solitude, depressed and confused. Something seemed so wrong! He was just waiting for the right time, the right place and the right moment to act. I wondered what was running through his mind at that moment?
Has he ever thought about the further suffering a fall from a height would cause his family and friends?
Has he ever wondered when his body would be found and shocking news his loved ones would receive?
Has he ever thought about life after death?
No, he was lost in his own world.
Many still struggled to get over this for awhile but the reality is, we had lost a friend.
We will live remembering Ngae as he was. Kind, humble, determined, loud, witty, bold, amiable and full of enthusiasm.
That Sunday morning it took Ngae's demise to bond us and to remind us again the important things in life. It also made us ponder our mortality.
As I reflect, I believe I need to do some soul searching and take a deeper look within myself.
"Life is divided into 3 terms - that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future." - William Wordsworth