Note: Pictures from film and television are being used for my article.
Silence is like paper in a strong wind – impossible to catch. Everyday is always an attempt to grip silence with clenched fists. And everyday, I keep failing. Silence – it is calm, it is still. It is a place for chaos to die.
August 8, 2003
It was around three in the morning, and I was half asleep on the living room couch. From the other room, I hear my father waking up and turning on his light. I hear my parents arguing about medicine. The details were hard to understand. I pretend to be asleep, for I hate to be bothered by the sound of my father.
This chaos – it surrounds me like a swarm of ninjas ready to kill me. Every time I welcome their blades, they retreat. It’s torture, they enjoy - teasing me, tempting me. Every time I chase them, I always find a trail of blood. This blood – it’s like the chaos wants me to study it, as if it’s my own. Is every drop of blood a bad memory? Why does chaos want me to remember things? Why is it so important to look in the past?
August 8, 2003
My sister Sarah was sick, and was sleeping on my mother’s bed for the night, for it comforted the both of them to be close. Of Course, my father loves to complain, and his voice was slowly rising.
Memories – some are good, and most are terrible. So why is my mind doing this to me? Memories – compiled from chaotic points in history, and it chases me everywhere I go. The trail of bad memories, I perceive it as blood. Silence is a virtue, and it’s beyond my reach. I will never know if I ever get my hands on it.
August 8, 2003
My father’s voice started yelling Sarah’s name. I thought it would be the usual yelling, but my father’s voice suddenly changed to a boisterous cry.
Throughout my life, I’ve always tried to find a meaning as to why we exist. Bogged down by the chaos and the blood, I found myself depressed at a very young age. My parents were survivors of the genocide in Cambodia. I would hear of their tragic stories during the Khmer Rouge – tales of chaos and blood. My mother recalls witnessing the death of her husband, and having to single-handedly bury him in a shallow grave. She always wondered if her siblings survived the torture camps they were taken to. Everyday, I would hear my mother’s stories of the killing fields – a land painted by dead bodies killed in concentration camps.
Death – It’s something I used to hear about everyday as a child, and all I wanted was silence.
Growing up, I’ve always felt sad. I always wanted to be isolated. It was the only fuel that kept me going, because there was no other. Their horrific stories made me scared of life. Learning of my country’s bloody history from a personal perspective was terrifying.
I was always scared of being out in the world and interacting with people. I was very pessimistic, and the stories cemented my negativity with life. I remember my father always used to ask me why do I have the look of a boy ready to die.
It’s because my parents were. They had to. With millions of people dying in the Cambodia, my parents had to be prepared for the worst. I felt like I should too. My mother, despite her stories, always advised me to keep living forward. On the other side, my father hardly spoke to me. He enjoyed threats more than anything on this earth.
I didn’t know how I should feel...
I was never a problem child. I was that boy who wore all black and never said a word. My siblings were all so positive, but why couldn’t I get on that wagon? It was depression - plain and simple.
Sarah was always a positive girl, and too much if you asked me. She was the happiest out of all of us. I would always tell her it’s because she’s the youngest. She liked to give me a hard time about it too, joking that I should wear more color. She was smarter than me, happier than me, and loved life more than me. Despite the chaos that surrounded my family, Sarah knew how to embrace what she had and made the most out of it. She simply knew how to navigate life in a progressive manner.
August 8, 2003
My father begins yelling Sarah’s name over and over. I quickly rise to my feet, complete with fear. My father bursts out from his bedroom, careening for my brother’s help. My brother quickly bursts out from his room, and my father tells him to call 911.
I immediately run to my mother’s bedroom. I see her trying to wake up Sarah, but she is as still as the air. I calmly tap her as my father and brother enter the room. She didn't respond.
Silence – What is it if I were to find it? Is it some form of solitude?
August 8, 2003 – the day that forever changed my life.
On that eighth day in August, Sarah never woke up from her sleep. After everything my parents told me about the horrific nature of death, I finally witnessed it in front of me.
Beyond August 8, 2003
Sarah’s death was the end of everything. I knew that I wanted death to come to me and tell me that it’s time to go. That silence that I’ve been looking for may be the silence of death.
Not only fighting depression, losing Sarah punched me down like a car hitting a ragdoll. Life, at this point, mattered no longer. Everything that I loved to do was a chore. Motivation flew out the window, and going to school was nearly impossible. The constant thought and attempted suicide kept pouring all over me like a rain of blood.
How does one cope with death? I really don’t know… But one thing is certain - time. The notion of time healing all wounds is a phrase I’ve come to appreciate. The chaos that surrounds me still do what they do best, but time adds a layer to my skin. It still hurts, but it's inevitable. Things get tough, but I'm still going.
Every January 28th, of Every Year
Every year on Sarah's birthday, I would write a letter and read it at her grave. Doing this helps me accept her death, as I would pretend she is there as I read the letter. It’s like having a reunion and catching up with her. Every year I’d sit at her grave, and I talk. And I learn more about myself each year. That is proof that Sarah is there for me in spirit. Her death hurts to this day, but talking to her grave is therapeutic.
Coping with Death
Letting the chaos surround me, and looking beyond the trail of blood - I realized there are good memories hidden within the past. Taking my mother's advice and living how Sarah would has given me a brighter look on life. My passion for writing has evolved throughout the years, and meeting new people has been far easier than expected. I survived school, learning to embrace life in a progressive manner. As for this silence - Do I still want to find it? Yes, but it could wait a little longer.
Sarah Pech. January 28th 1991-August 8, 2003.