Sunday, May 14, 2017
It is Mothers' Day today.
It is also the 4th death anniversary of Charlene. She has been gone longer than she was alive.
I was only her mother for 3.5 years. Because she was special, I love her more. Because of the grace of God, I could love her unconditionally. I was proud of my strong little beauty of every thing that she could do. The impact she made on people made me so proud as her mother.
Because of Charlene, I became a mother I never knew I could be.
To all my friends with special needs children, Happy Mothers' Day!
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Tomorrow is Charlene's first death anniversary.
My wife and I missed her. Her cheeky smiles, her warmth while we carried her, her complaints as we made her do exercise...
Sometimes we are reminded of her when we are around the places we had brought her. Sometimes we are reminded of her when we see other kids. Sometimes, the memories of her just hit us out of nowhere.
When we remembered her, sometimes we laugh at the things we have done with her. Sometimes, our tears flowed freely. Sometimes, we blame ourselves for not taking better care of her.
We have learnt that those emotions accompanying her memories... are part of our memory of Charlene. I learnt not to deny those emotions.
As long as we can live a functional life, even having those emotions sometimes are okay.
My fear is that there will come a day when my emotions are dulled so much that I forget her. It's such a fine balance... being able to control these emotions without it affecting our lives too much. And also not letting our current lives washing away the memories away.
To those who have followed the blog (and is still reading this), my apologies for the lack of updates.
I noticed that there was a trend for me to keep thinking about the past events with Charlene. I am worried that if I write about the past events, it paints the impression that we are constantly looking back.
We have moved forward in our lives. Not that we have moved away from Charlene... but that Charlene has become part of our lives. She has changed us in how we see things, respond to people, and how we view life.
I cannot promise that I will still be able to update the blog frequently. But I can promise that the blog will be a place for us to write and for you to read about our thoughts and feelings on Charlene or on things related to Charlene.
I brought my parents to Mandai columbarium this morning. My mother bought a sunflower and we placed it at the niche.
I think the sunflower is an appropriate representation of Charlene's life. Her smile reminds me of the sunflower... bright, infectious and sunny.
Around noon, my wife and I went with Aud & Milie to the niche. We are appreciative of their effort to come down.
My wife and I had been mainly busy with work and church activities in the past year. We have also tried our best to maintain contact with the friends in the special needs children network.
Without Charlene, life may be more simple... but without her, life is also more dull.
But we have received signs that Charlene is in heaven and we believe that she's in a better place. Her parents who is still on earth will need to do God's work, and we will do our little angel proud.
During a sermon, I noted that Jesus's earthly ministry was 3.5 years.
Charlene's life was also 3.5 years.
I prayed that her impact on the people around her, could spur others to be a blessing to more people. Much like what Jesus instructed his disciples to do.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Recently at work, I have been teaching about how rational human beings make decisions by weighing benefits and costs.
4 years ago, I made the decision to take no-pay leave to care for Charlene. My mum, my aunts and my ex-colleagues could not comprehend my actions. To them, I am irrational and have not made the right decision. Because I gave up on my job (and thus my salary) to take care of a special child (who in their opinion do not have a future). They think that the most obvious solution is to hire a maid to care for Charlene so that we do not have to grapple with finances and I do not have to be burdened with caring for Charlene.
Indeed, it was tough caring for Charlene. But the benefits cannot be easily measured in monetary value. The joy of seeing Charlene achieve every little thing; smile, kick, hold her head etc etc.... and also the things she has taught me are invaluable.
Sometimes, when I don't know whether what I am doing makes any difference to this world now, I miss Charlene so badly.
I know I have made a difference to her life and she has made a difference to my life and many other people's lives!
I am so glad that I made the best decision ever. To have cared for Charlene for that 3.5 years was something I have never regretted. I wish I could still have her but as much as I miss her, I know that my little angel Charlene is happily with Jesus in heaven.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
It has been a while since we last posted. We have been very busy this month and a half.
My wife has been busy with tail end of work before holiday, cleaning the house and squeezing in a short trip with her best friend (thanks so much for takin care of her! I know I can trust you :D)
I have been busy in my new work place. Because it's the year end, there has been lotsa social functions, which I have been attending pretty much on a weekly basis.
On top of that, we hosted 2 youths from an overseas exchange program. While it was only a 2 night stay, me and my wife spend about a week researching the itinerary, typing it out and doing our recce. The 2 male youths were from Philippines and Vietnam... maybe because they are guys, so they don't really know how to express themselves; there was a lack of connection. But I am glad we stayed for the ribbon farewell ceremony, as it is really quite a spectacle. Thank God that the weather clear and we were able to participate in the ribbon farewell ceremony.
I have also started some preparation for the social outreach ministry for my church. Me and my wife have also signed up for caroling practice.
In short, we have been very busy.
It's been slightly more than 6 months since Charlene return to heaven.
Some people may think it is long enough for us to recover from our grief... I would certainly think so myself 4 years ago, thinking that it would take about half a year for someone to get back to normalcy after grieving process.
Outwardly it seems that all is well for us.
But our inner emotions stir at times.
And our tears will roll down uncontrollably.
I was singing 突然好想你 May Day in KTV, and the wave of emotions hit me...hard. I just cried and sobbed in front of my wife. Luckily it was only her; I would have scared all my friends if my other friends were around.
Will we ever "get over" it? I think that is such a poor phrase to use for grieving... I don't want to "get over" it, as if I'm throwing away an old piece of furniture.
Instead I want to change my world perspective, change my behavior, change my life... Because I want Charlene's life to be meaningful, and hence I want her life to, at the very least, make an impact in *my* life.
Sometimes I forget, and revert back to the old way of doing things. It's a constant struggle. But I can rely on the Holy Spirit to strengthen me. It's a strong, concrete experience. Because I was busy I stopped reading the bible and prayed minimally. But when I forced myself to resume the habits, God strengthen me... Praise be to God!
I am not sure how many of you are still reading it, and I don't blame you....It has been such a long time since we updated the blog. But I promised myself that the blog is not written solely for others... It's also written for ourselves, that we can write down our thoughts and feelings regarding about Charlene's life. And I would keep it that way, for as long as I could.
What is the meaning of life?
This existential question keeps popping up in my head.
And my answer now is still the same one as I spoke about on the last eulogy for Charlene's funeral.
Through Heaven's eyes.
My faith in God, my trust in God, is something that sustains me during the period of grieving. The belief that God has use Charlene mightily for His plans, and will use me and my wife mightily for His plans gives me a firm foundation to lead my life after Charlene's passing. I trust that her life has not been lived in vain. Because God has guided her life in the way He plans it.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
The Upper Room, 18 Oct
"Faith is not for the faint-hearted. We are asked to take a journey, without necessarily knowing where we are going or what might be coming toward us. We are not given a map; rather, we are asked to trust that we are going someplace good. "
It can be difficult to lead our earthly lives with so much uncertainty. People die, circumstances change, plans go haywire. Fortunately for us Christians, we have our eternal Lord to rely on. And having experienced Him, through Charlene, in various manners, we can be certain of His love and faithfulness.
Proverbs 3:5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
Monday, October 28, 2013
(EDIT: for the second last paragraph, it ought to read "shouldn't worry". Have changed it.)
Sunday, October 27, 2013
It's funny how we "celebrate" her birthday when she's no longer around... but it feel like the right thing to do. We went to the niche straight after lunch. We didn't know what we would be doing there, so we just bought a balloon so that we can place it beside her photo.
Balloon was a gift that Charlene received often during 3 of her birthday parties. Big ones, or small ones.... We were never sure whether she can see them, but we often tie the balloon to her bed, so that it wobble around her. We remember the big balloon that Rusyini and Thomas bought for her 2nd birthday party at our church cell.
That birthday party was something that Charlene was really happy about... she was positively smiling and glowing throughout the session. She enjoys being around with people, she would listen to people talk and be very gossipy.
We are glad that we spent the effort and energy to organise the birthday parties for her. It was always difficult to plan the birthday parties, because there are planning considerations. We frequently wonder the purpose of the parties... will Charlene like it? Will she be tired out by the events? Who should we invite? Will we enjoy the events?
Looking back, some of the Charlene's best moments were at those birthday parties... where people gathered specially to celebrate God's gift to us. We thank our friends from our churches, university and Rainbow who took time to come and celebrate the event with us.
Those were precious memories.
We missed her.
We stood by the niche quietly. Both of us didn't say much, except for the occasional tears. Finally, we prayed in front of the niche. The prayer goes something like this:
"Father, we thank You for giving Charlene to us, so that we were parents to this special girl. We are thankful for the lessons we learned through her, the little joyous moments that we shared with her and the people around her, and even the occasional painful and anxious moments... all these moments define our life with Charlene. Lord, we thank you that she is with you in heaven, and that she's in a happier and better place. We pray that You give us the strength to continue down the path You have set for us, and to give us the wisdom to know what to do with our lives. So that both You and Charlene will be proud of us. Amen."
We went home and have a typical Sunday afternoon. Though we still cry and miss our precious girl, we will continue moving forward by the strength of God.