Thursday, December 31, 2020

Legacy of a Baby

I remember before Philip's death, I'd always looked forward to the next year because the current year was what I thought to be sucky or had nothing to shout about. Somehow, when Philip died, I was probably just going through life and was neither excited or dreading the year to come. Partly because nothing would be more tragic than that and because I was really learning to live in the moment.
It's been a year since Philip died, and yet this year I'm pleased to share that I am looking forward to the next year. Not because that 2020 has been bad (I really am grateful for 2020), but there's so many exciting things to look forward to in 2021. (And no I'm not having another baby😏)

A rainbow we saw at our 
family holiday this year
Through the past year, I have had many people coming to ask me if I ever once was angry with God. And while it doesn't seem so, I have been upset with God many times. I was upset that He gave me Philip when I didn't ask for it. I was more upset that He took him away when I prayed very hard for him to stay. I got irritated when He dangled some hope in front of me through bible passages and when Philip started to re
act to the meds only to abruptly snatch that away from me. I was bitter and envious when I saw kids the same age as Philip, growing and thriving while I just buried mine. 
I even became cynical in the power of prayers and wondered whether God bothered to answer mine. Like during Philip's last days, I had always asked God to assure me that everything would be fine by showing me a rainbow in the sky. I saw rainbows on a balloon, on a sweater, in the hospital charts but never a rainbow in the sky. 
Then Philip died, which probably would be enough to justify if I ever walked away from God.

Many times, the bitterness and anger from life come from this little voice we hear in us. 
This voice which tells us "Life is not fair. You don't deserve this." And strangely, as we grow older, we tend to believe it more and allow it to take over our lives more. 
We think God didn't fulfil His part of the contract and permit ourselves to be angry and walk away, because after all, God failed. 

I still don't know why God chose to give him an illness with a next to nothing fighting chance or to take him away. I don't believe He needed Philip to be an extra angel in heaven (I mean He IS God, He doesn't need to take anything from us to make Him happy 😏), neither do I believe that He thinks I will screw up being a mother of 5 that's why He took Philip away. (That's really just being extra...

So why do I stay on being a loser? Because my little (Saint) Philip still gives me hope. 💕

Philip after his second op
Philip taught me through his operations and illness to smile despite the challenges (I mean he had moments when he laughed even while "facing" death and pain), to never let the tragedy of his life define him (he was never known to be the baby with cancer, but the cute and smiley baby whom the nurses would try to win a smile from), that living a life with hope, looking forward to the next day is wayyy easier than being bitter and angry.
Many who are angry with God with the unfairness in life, forgot too often that even He had to allow His Son to die. 

My little saint may only just be a baby, who has no degree, knows no language, gets no followers, but just like the little baby in Christmas, is cheering me on to live out my life with greater courage, more hope and humanity.

Could God change the tragedy from happening? Of course. But did God ever leave me? Never. 
And as we end 2020, I pray that I will always be reminded how blessed I am to have bore and held a saint in my arms and how much love and hope I can offer from the gifts I have
gotten thus far.   

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Picking Up the Pieces, Picking Up my Cross

Dearest Philip,

How are you in heaven? Have you been busy testing your wings in your free time or have you been swamped with prayer requests during your "working hours"?
It's been almost a year since we last met. Despite the reasons to smile and be grateful for, there hasn't been a day when mummy stopped thinking or missing you. 

Since your passing, (other than having another baby 😅) I did many things to deal with your absence. I stayed away from big gatherings so that I didn't need to deal with pitiful or sympathetic conversations, I stayed away from babies who are similar to your age so as not to be reminded of my loss, I even locked myself in my own cocoon so that I didn't need to wear any mask to cover the rawness of the pain.

I have heard many people commenting that time will heal the pain. To that, I have learnt to just smile and keep quiet. Maybe they are right.. maybe they have experienced something in life that I have yet to learn, or maybe it's just that they are really blessed to not have lost something that mattered more than life to them. 

But the biggest struggle I had after you died ironically wasn't dealing with your absence but with my own guilt. 
I had always wondered if I had done enough for you, if I had really shown you in my capacity how much I love you. The night before your death, daddy and I even dressed ourselves up to attend a function because we didn't want to dampen the spirits of the people who were there. And even though we left 5 minutes into the start of the event, I'd always wondered if you had blamed me for not being around you more. Not many people knew this, but the reason why I never opened the casket during your wake was because the c-pap mask that you wore during the last days of your life had caused an abrasion and a dent at your nose area which I only noticed it after they removed the mask when they died. You must have been really uncomfortable during that time but I wasn't able to offer any consolation. You were left on the hospital ward for quite some time because daddy and I couldn't find your original birth certificate and because of that you couldn't be transferred to the mortuary. 
At times I read about stories of children going through the same cancer as you. Most of them don't make it but because they underwent chemotherapy and radiation, they did live longer. And I wondered too if our lives would be different if I had chosen the chemo route for you. 
I replayed your last few months in my head throughout the year and always wondered did we do enough  for you and more importantly did we tell you enough that we love you. 

The gospel today reminded me a very harsh truth what being a disciple meant - to carry my cross daily. Darling, unfortunately you will always be my cross I would need to bear till I die. When you died last year, a part of me died together with you. 
And even though you were with us for only 6 months, you truly taught me so much more than what I have learnt in my whole life. When the doctors told me about your diagnosis, it was not only the first time I actually felt any concrete pain in life, but the first time I had experienced the cross. My faith was crumbling and there were moments when I doubted the goodness of God. 

Because of you, I have learnt to understand the phrase "not my will but yours be done". On the day of your funeral, not only did I bury you, I also needed to bury my disappointments and my dreams I had for you. But I came to learn that while there was nothing wrong with my hopes and dreams, God just had a very different plan and vocation for you. And it was through you, mummy learnt to ask for strength to surrender. 

It didn't take me long to realise that nothing will ever be possible to fill the void you left behind. It's ironic, but human logic of finding something else to fill the void doesn't help in the healing. Healing ironically came when mummy decided to give away more of her heart to those around her.
Because of this pain I experienced, I have learnt to reach out to more people who are struggling with a little more humility and compassion. And each time when they opened their lives and hearts to me, that small part of my heart starts to become alive again.

I have learnt to be okay with God's choice of not healing you, because even though I am your mummy, I know that He loves you more than I do. Thank you baby, for jumpstarting my relationship with God, for teaching me in a very concrete manner how to submit to my daily cross. 
It's been one year since I last saw you... but it's also one year closer to meeting you again. So until I get my chance to hold you again, I promise you that mummy is going to live her life and laugh again. And know that every breath I take, I'll be taking one for you. 💕

Always missing you,

P a few weeks before he died
P a few weeks before he died

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Growing with Grief

It has been four months since I have made a new friend - Grief. Not that I ever welcomed her into my life, or that I asked to hang around, but she decided to make herself comfortable and stay on.
I soon got comfortable with her and somehow I realised that till the day that I die, she will be my constant companion.

Many don't realise it and tell me that with time, she will become a stranger and slowly fade away. However, those who told me so, probably have never lost a piece of their hearts before. There are both good and bad things about grief. The good, I always tell others, is that life will never get worse. The bad and saddest thing is, unfortunately, life will just go on. 

Since my last blog entry, I said that I was staying in my tomb for quite a bit.  Being in my tomb was probably like being at the bottom of the mountain, seeing and learning different views which being on the mountain top will never be able to help me see. 

1) We often credit God way tooooo much for our own good.
In the past four months, I kept hearing people commenting about how God has a better or greater plan for me. Like how He will never give me a cross way too big for me to bear. *Rolls eyes* (apparently my sarcasm did not die with Philip
That initially made me wonder what did I do so wrong or so right that God decided to give me such a big cross. (I mean it would be wayyyyyyyyy easier to love God if He could just reward me with a big lottery win) But it seemed that because humans need to have an explanation for everything, we console ourselves by telling us that God can't be that cruel to us. 
Or how maybe God was just doing me a favour by saving me a greater heartache and taking Philip to a better place now. (Of which I smiled and decide to walk away)

Unfortunately, I didn't do anything right (or wrong) to have what I got. It was all the while going to be my life. God didn't give me the cross. He did however allow it to happen and with it He gave me the right people to journey with and watch out for me. The right enough raw ingredients of hope, faith and grace to recognise that there is something to look forward to even if I were to die tomorrow. (Which obviously I hope I don't) And from those raw ingredients, hopefully it will grow and become a testimony that He had never abandoned me. 

2) Grief was never meant to imprison a soul
I shared with some friends whom I still meet up with that "Call me if you need me" is probably one of the worst lines I would want to hear in times of grief from a friend. Not many realise that the person whom they say it to hardly use that "call me" card. 

Many friends thought I needed time and left me alone. I don't blame them for personally death isn't something many are comfortable to deal with. The unfortunate thing was, not many realised that I didn't need time alone or to be left alone... I needed them. Unfortunately, being in your own tomb, causes one to look inward, at one's pain, one's misery and just at oneself.
I became selfish and excused myself from many of the gatherings they have organised. Afterall, I thought whether I appeared or not, the gathering would still happen, so why should I go? The gathering seemed to fulfill their need of void of boredom rather than comforting me in my loss. 

Yet, I learnt that the purpose of grief wasn't to highlight the unfairness of life, but to emphasize the importance of joy. It does seem ironic, but people seem to appreciate the gift of joy more when it comes from someone who would be filled with pain. It was as if many aspired to want to be joyful than be cynical. 
Just like because of Easter and Good Friday, we can appreciate the gift of Christmas (cuz if not, it's just another baby's birthday?) And so with pain, one learns the magic of joy. 

3) Life is better when you don't need answers
After Philip died, I wondered if I had done enough. The memories of having him in my arms broke my heart, but the "what ifs" I had killed me. "What if we decided to do chemotherapy?", "What if we started treatment earlier" or "What if he was around still?". These questions get worse when you grief somehow. 

Till now, I can't tell you why Philip was given to me only for 6 months. I can't tell you also why God decided to allow one to go through disasters or any calamity. And for the rest of my life, I would probably be pondering on that just like how Mary did till the day she died. She who survived through the death of her spouse and son would probably wonder what did she say yes to. She was afterall (just) doing God's work and she got everything seemingly against her. 

But her doubts, questions and heartaches never made her think twice in who she believed in. And the sooner one realises that one can never answer (and not need to answer) all the questions in life, the sooner you will be able to appreciate life and its surprises better. 

Letting God be God was one of the hardest thing I learnt in 2019. It probably gets harder as we age because we start to attach job scopes and images to what God has to be in order to be "God". But we forget that we are not God and everything is a gift. All my life I have been taught to pray and get what I want, but now a wise priest has told me to start wanting what I got.
I learnt though that what He has taken will never be greater than what He will give. So be comforted that He is a wayyyyyy better God than the one we have in mind.

Image from