Thursday, September 5, 2019
Dear Philip... With Love - Dad
How can we even begin to understand what suffering is? I am sure by now you would have known all the technical details about what Philip had to go through.
In suffering, there are two ways we can respond. We can always be inward looking and wallow in self-pity and despair; or we can choose to be life-giving, be outward looking and offer up our sufferings in exchange for graces for others who are hurting.
A wise priest once told Michelle and I that the strongest and most powerful prayers come from those who are hurting. Contrary to popular belief, we are not strong, like many of you claim us to be. We are just as weak, we cry uncontrollably and we often feel like we cannot carry on.
But it is when we are weakest and most helpless that we offer ourselves up to God to let him take over and direct our lives.
Instead of wallowing in self pity, we channel our energy to pray for that couple we know who are undergoing chemotherapy, that couple who have marital problems and are always quarrelling, that dear friend of ours who just had a bypass or a heart stent, that dear friend who is angry with God and doesn’t want anything to do with God anymore, our friends and family who are having some trouble with their work, their family problems or are in depression. It is not easy, but somehow it gets better when you pray for them and you know that God will make a difference in their lives.
We want to thank some people who have been on this difficult journey with us. Our dearest parents, who have been our pillars of strength to help us hold the fort at home and take care of our four kids.
Our helpers who also without complaining help to take care of the home and our children when we are away.
Philip’s godparents, Nick and Noeline and their beautiful family. We know you love him as much as we do, and pain must be like a sword that cuts through your hearts. My godson Daryl for helping me with all the behind the scene work.
Leo and Olivia who have been our pillars of emotional strength. Khay Guan, thank you for arranging all the medical stuff for me at NUH, going out of your way to connect us so that we could give Philip the best fighting chance he had. Dr Miriam, the only oncologist who believed in us. Brian and Coni, Fr JP, Fr Jude, Shawn and Petrina, Andrew and Pam and Mrs Tan, Elaine and Eugene, Le Peng and Barrie, who journeyed with us and made it a little more bearable along the way. Felicia and Terry, Daniel Ong, Kelvin and Yvonne, Mark and Noelle, our pillars of strength and dependability. Lilly and Steven and Fr Aloy for always keeping us in prayer.
Bernard and Ying, thank you for that initial conversation we had which totally changed our perspective of suffering from an inward looking one to a life-giving mentality. Your unshakable faith is the only reason we are here surviving today!
Last but not least, the very wise priest Msgr Ambrose Vaz. Thank you for listening to me and journeying with us. I reckon I still believe in God only because of what you said. It is always easy to get what you want, it takes great faith to want what you get, because God is the author of life and he has a greater plan for us all, even though we do not understand it at this moment in time.
Philip was named after the patron saint of joy, St Philip Neri. He was meant for great things, to bring joy to the people he met. I believe he had that charming effect on people and brought joy to all who interacted with him.
Philip is by far the bravest boy I’ve ever met! I have never met such a small boy who had to undergo two 5 hour surgeries, come out of it and still try his best to smile for you because he is genuinely happy to see you. His smile would melt a thousand hearts.
Today and henceforth I want you all to remember him as the happy baby whom you have met. It may be our physical loss that we can no longer hold and cuddle him, but it is for the greater good of all of you that we now have an angel in heaven who can help to convey your hurts and joys, your desires and your prayers to the Almighty one who is with Philip in heaven now.
My dearest darling boy, you did it. You beat us all to heaven. You are the best athlete I know. Now that you are with God, remember to intercede for us in our prayers. Remember to pray for your mummy and me and your siblings. Keep us on the straight and narrow path so that we will be able to be reunited again with you one day in heaven.
Meanwhile have fun exploring heaven with so many of your friends who are already there, while we on earth who have lost a child seek comfort in each other and hold on to the promise of a reunion in heaven when we eventually finish our race on earth.