Sunday, December 14, 2008

Don't Forget to Talk...


Over the last few weeks, I have busy trying to locate some respondents for my qualitative research. I needed to interview at least 6 respondents. They would have to be female above the age of 60 years old, widowed or divorced but have remained single by choice. This task was harder than I thought it would be.

Among the respondents I had the honor and the pleasure of interviewing, the last one stuck in my head for many many days and now has turned out to be my muse for this blog entry. She is about 62 years old and has been widowed for 20 years. She told me how her late mother use to keep reminding her to keep talking to her husband. My respondent went on to elaborate in great detail what her mother had meant by saying, "Jangan lupa bercakap..." or "Don't forget to talk.."

As I sat next to my husband in the car ride back home after the interview, I discussed what was said by my respondent during the interview, especially about the "Don't forget to talk" bit. My respondent felt the absence of her husband whenever she had something she wanted to share with him, even after he has passed a few months already (this is during the time when only 2 months had passed since his demise.)

I realize how important talking to each other has been for my relationship with my husband. This is also true with regards to my relationships with my two teenage daughters. I believe that when one of us is gone, the ones left behind would really miss all the talks we've had with each other and the laughter that entails.

With the advent of technology that's initially meant to improve communication methods, we would think that we would find improvement also in the quality of our communication. But can we sincerely regard sending text messages and chats on messengers as true communication when there's no eye contact and seeing facial expressions? Won't we be prone to miscommunications when we misconstrue a chat message because it lacked the human touch and gestures?

I would be lying if I were to say that my husband and I talk ALL the time. We do talk to each other a lot, discussing current issues, common interests etc. But when we're both orally tired, we do have that comforting silence between us that exudes the feeling of understanding and acceptance. A sense of belonging that needs no announcements or forced talking. Our availability to ourselves and each other radiates through the air surrounding us like the fragrant aroma of comforting coffee. We are home with each other. Whenever we are apart, we are in each others' minds and hearts. Its one of those given things.

Having said that, I still believe that talking is healthy. My profession as a counseling psychologist as proven multiple times over of how important it is to talk. Keeping things bottled up inside and yet feeling depressed when others misunderstand or don't understand us is our own undoing.

Talk. Keep on talking. Don't forget to talk. Talk while you can. Say what's on your mind. Speak of feelings felt in your heart. Love is not for keeps. Love is for giving. Love is forgiving. Its the same thing... different; but the same.

18 years have passed by and we are still talking, Yang. Go on... Keep talking, my love. I'm listening...

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