I'm in a state of denial. Ever since I learnt of Terence's tumor, I was at a loss of how to react. I know Terence from the days before he ran his first marathon in KL. All the while a bubbly and happy go lucky, I was an ardent fan of his blog. Colourful narratives filled the postings and he cooked up some pretty mind-boggling phrases like "Dew Nia Seng" among others. Words that don't mean anything until you read it from another angle.
His sense of adventure spiked after completing his run-walk routine for his debut marathon and after that nothing seems to be beyond him, even though some of us had doubts. He tackled the duathlon on a mountain bike while most were on their expensive racing models. He tackled the triathlon and more marathons like he was on tour. His family often tagged along on race day.
Both of us have strong interests in war stories, fiction or otherwise and our conversations are always littered with war lingo. So it was no surprise when he pioneered the "commando style" marathon racing where he would travel to an out-of-town marathon by a late night bus, arriving there on race morning and jump straight to the starting line. Timing is of no consequence to him, always prefering the experience over the fast times. He got the endorsement of John Bingham's Penguin to call his group of runners The Penguins and they gained popularity among the local running circles. He and his group should be proud to have inspired many to take up the way of life.
I think the proudest moment would be when he was admitted into the Powerbar Team Elite last year (and he was again retained in the team this year). He told me last year that he was shocked to find himself in this team of elite athletes and he was in complete awe of their achievements and abilities. Where Terence lacked in speed, he more than made up in his resolve. In the deplorable Johor Marathon (now a defunct event, justifiably so), he related that some officials tailing him made some derogatory and snide remarks about him bring up the rear and that he should just hop onto the sweeper bus and let everyone go home earlier. He just took his time and upon crossing the finish line, went straight to one of the senior officials and let the person have a piece of his mind.
When I called Terence last week, he didn't say how bad his case is. Unlike his brother who had surgery to remove the brain tumor, Terence is opting for drug treatment as he fears that brain surgery is too risky. I also asked him how his family is taking it and he said his daughter Eunice is confident her Papa will be OK and his wife is taking it the best as she can. I put myself in his shoes and I can't imagine myself in his position. The scale and impact render all other matters irrelevant. Your priorities suddenly become clear. Life takes a new meaning and direction. It seems that suffering jolts us from this hazy stupor of battling it out trying to finish work, arguing with colleagues, rushing here and there and to point us in the correct purposeful direction. With suffering we seem to appreciate life more.
Life to Terence is always an adventure and some of his exploits were stuff that make urban legends in the running circle. Terence is finding that he's in a hot LZ. But many of us pray that he and his family hang on with the kind of attitude we know him for and with the thought that the runners out there are with him all the way. That's an affirmative.