So I’ve been letting this blog slide. The last time I wrote was exactly a year ago, on your birthday.
I’m not really sure what to say, I think you know what’s on my mind before the words are formed and even before I know if that’s what I really meant.
Your big brother always asks me to tell him a story during our car ride home from grandma’s. And your littlest brother, 33-months-old, seems to enjoy my silly tales too.
I have never told you any stories, and since today is your birthday, your 5th birthday, I will tell you one.
A little flower decided that it was done being a flower and living the rest of its life in the soil, doing the same thing every day like the rest of its family.
“I’m going to fly away and see new things and be free,” the determined little flower told the rest of the flowers in the meadow.
The other flowers just nodded gently in the light breeze and ignored the little flower, thinking it was just being foolish.
Then one day, a strong gust of wind blew through the meadow and kept blowing harder each time. The little flower stood straighter and thought the next time the wind blew, it would be able to fly away.
And indeed it did.
The little flower floated and flew through the air and felt as light as a bird. It could see all the other flowers in the meadow shaking their heads. But the little flower did not care what they thought. It was free.
The little flower flew to different lands and saw many interesting sights. There were other flowers that were bigger and brighter. Trees that grew so tall and blocked out the sky above. There were huge animals that roamed through the lands and small ones living inside houses. It saw mountains that were green, then white and green again. Or waves that mostly rippled and sometimes roared at the darkened skies.
As it traveled far and wide, and as the days became months, the little flower felt lonely and the many sights below did not excite it anymore. It longed to return to the meadows where the rest of his family and friends were.
But no matter how much or how far the wind blew, the little flower just could not return to the meadow of its past. And just as suddenly the wind became a gentle breeze and the little flower found itself slowly floating back down to the ground.
It looked around and found that it had landed on a patch of black soil. Suddenly the little flower felt that it was in the air again, and just as quickly, the little flower was stretched out a little by something and it was made to stand up straight.
The little flower was puzzled and confused. As it tried to make sense of what had just happened, a gentle voice said, “Wonderful, Leia, you planted that pretty yellow flower in this flower pot all by yourself. Now, remember that this will be your flower and you have to take good care of it everyday.”
The little flower liked every word and felt it had come home afterall.
Missing you lots, Leia.
All the time.
Mama, Papa and your brothers
So how have you been doing, Leia? Hope you have been good all year round.
I’m sorry your dad and I can’t be there with you today, it’s your birthday afterall, your FOURTH! It’s kinda hard for us to be with you, I’m sure you know how much we would want to be there, together as a family.
I guess the birthday party or parties (there must be endless time for more than one!) must have been good, please just make sure you are nice to everyone who attended and made them feel special too.
Your brothers send their special birthday wishes, in their own special ways.
Your older brother, Tyler, had wrote you a mini-card (I told him we have no space on your wall to put up a big card unfortunately), but I am sure you will feel the humungous happy thoughts that came from him to you.
Isaac, your younger brother, almost 21 months, will most likely give you a kiss on your little picture. I hope you will get it, feel it and magnified it many times over.
The latest craze this year is really all about Frozen, Elsa and Anna. Maybe you caught the movie on one of those amazing heavenly movie nights, and I wonder if you prefer Elsa or Anna. I reckon if you are here with us, you would have asked for a Frozen party. And gotten your brothers to dress up as Sven and Olaf.
Maybe you would have been real headstrong and insisted on being Kristoff. Either way, we would have allowed you to be anything you want to be.
I hope you stay close in spirit with your brothers, and watch over them as they grow. Speak to them if you can. Tyler asked again earlier this afternoon, when will you be coming back? You have been in heaven too long. And why did you die?
And I answered him as I had done many times before, and also to remind myself.
She isn’t coming back.
Yes, she has been in heaven for quite a while now. She will be there for a long time, until we see her again.
But I still grapple with the last question. Why did you die?
There are many other cases of preemies who were born at an earlier gestation week than you and they survived and are thriving now. There are those with worse health issues than you, yet they are alive though continuous medical care is required.
And then the self doubts and guilt set in.
Did I make the right medical decisions for you?
Maybe I should have just used a new feeding tube and milk bag for you instead of just washing and sterilising it?
Did you slowly fade away ‘cos your breathing cannula was blocked somewhat and you ended up not getting enough oxygen and suffocated on your CO2?
Maybe I should have noticed your lethargy that night?
Maybe I didn’t do the CPR correctly that day?
Why did you die? Your brother asked.
And I just answered him, you were not well, your lungs were not good. You had to go.
I guess we will have this discussion for eternity and maybe laugh about all these silly guilt trips I have over some coffee and cake. Or wine.
“Oh simple thing where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin”
Leia, you have been a good kid.
Still missing you.
1 Aug 2014
While driving home on Christmas Eve with your two brothers seated quietly in the backseat, your dad said, “Christmas has a different meaning to us.”
And I replied, “Yes it does, but we have to make it happy for the boys.”
And so 26 Dec has finally came and ended. Your dad misses you in his own way, while I make it my personal mission to keep your memory alive. We talk about you to your brothers as if you are still very much with us, yet, there is that bitterness that doesn’t go away even though this is now the 3rd year of your passing.
Family photos just don’t feel complete.
Isaac, your younger brother and almost 14 months, would hug and kiss your happy-go-lucky big brother Tyler, and I would imagine you joining in.
Or when both the boys are chasing one another down, for a brief second, I imagine you shrieking after them as you play with your brothers.
When we are on our way to grandma’s, Isaac would be snug in the sling and I will be holding Tyler’s hand and my other hand … empty. It would have been nice to have my hands full.
I feel comforted when your big brother tells me that he sees you watching over him as he sleeps. That you are happy in heaven with Jesus and God. That he wants to buy you a present or write you a card on your birthday.
That he loves you so much.
And somehow, you told him to tell me… you love your dad and I.
I really hope you don’t stop talking to your sometimes scatter-brained brother.
Since Isaac has never known you, your dad and I feel it even more important to tell him about his brave sister. He would point at your picture when I ask him, “Where’s 姐姐 (older sister)?” And I would raise him high up onto my shoulder so that he can see you, always with a big grin on his face.
Isaac looked at me and pointed upwards to the ceiling of the bathroom, as if to tell me, she is in heaven, Mama, and she is ok.
I know you are, more than ok, in heaven. But I still imagine all that could have been. Don’t forget we love you.[youtube:http://youtu.be/OEW_xenfaz0%5D
Monday night, a tweet update appeared on my Facebook Newsfeed, requesting for help in finding a 17-month-old boy. A photograph of the mother and the baby was attached in the tweet, both looking happy and smiling so wide at the camera. The little boy had the same toothy grin as my younger son.
I shared that on Facebook, with the tagline that I’m hoping this is a cruel hoax but that if it is true, perhaps someone will be able to find this boy.
I guess when one is a parent, a mother especially, the worst fear that is losing one’s child is felt most even if the child belongs to someone else.
The next day, it was reported that the baby boy’s body had been found floating out at sea, near the Bedok Jetty and while the mother had been saved from drowning a few hours before, he was dead.
This news rattled me, my heart ached and I couldn’t seem to breathe. I look at my two boys and had to hug them tighter. I looked at my daugher’s photo and felt I was back in the hospital cradling her body.
So these few days, the papers had this on front-page news. I couldn’t and didn’t want to read the details, but it is really hard to look at the picture of this happy boy and not imagine how he died. A good friend commented that the little boy would have thought his mum was taking him for a swim. That killed me… because that would have been the kind of trust my sons have in me too.
His mother has been charged for murder and yet, I feel so sad for her.
I don’t want to judge her for what she did. Some had said, if there was a problem raising the child, just put up for adoption or let the grandparents or his father to take care instead. What drove her to do what she did?
I feel people need some kind of answer, some logical explanation to things, a sense of closure so that we can move on. But really, does it really matter?
“Filicide, the act of a parent killing his or her own child”. This article was written back in August 2010 and reported in CNN. And in the article, it lists some possible reasons why mothers kill: long-term stress, the lack of positive social support, mental illnesses.
Sure filicide is unthinkable, it goes against the order of things. Parents are suppose to care, to nurture, to love most of all, if not, why have kids.
To do otherwise, is just being evil.
It pains me that another child’s life is snuffed out. Perhaps his mother wouldn’t need to be in this horrible position if she had been a little more rational and sought help.
When you are stuck in a rut and when things feel like there is no hope, and you realise perhaps there is no one else you can trust to take care of the one person you love too much, that you feel the best thing for this person is for him to leave with you. Because you feel to leave him alone in the world without you is even worse and you just can’t live with that thought either.
I know, it’s screwed up thinking… I felt that way at times when I was so helpless watching my daughter struggled with every breath in the High Dependency Ward. The only people who stopped me from going any further with this thought were my husband and my older son.
For months after Leia’s death, I felt guilty that I didn’t check on her more often the morning before she died when she looked more tired than usual. I felt guilty for not hugging her more, for not telling her “I love you”. I felt guilty to smile and laugh. I felt guilty for not trying harder to make her feel better. I felt guilty for living. I thought about joining her too.
Guilt still hits me and makes me feel that I have been a bad parent.
The worst is the guilt and I think that guilt is racking through his mum every minute.
I really hope she seeks help for whatever had bothered her so much, that her family and friends will not make things worse and condemn her even if this is such a horrible chain of events.
I pray for her soul. And for peace to those who should be there for her now.
Where you would be in the school your mum grew up and made some good lasting friendships.
You would be a MGS girl, all the way.
And how proud I will be to see you in the uniform, cute but all grown up, and with a bob. Your mum is not a fancy hairstylist who can braid your hair in different styles every other day, so we will keep it simple and maintenance-free.
Then again, you may just hate going to school.
And I will have to cajole, bribe, scare you into going, and maybe even drag you out of bed, out of the house and into the car 🙂
We will never know, I guess.
So this week has been harder than I thought.
Don’t get me wrong, I hold you so close to my heart and you are always on my mind. A song, a scene from a movie or a TV show, a picture, a quote, a news article can make me think of you and cause me to feel sad for awhile.
But twice a year, I just find it harder to breathe. I become more guarded, I act as if I don’t let it eat into me, but it gnaws on that same spot that hasn’t quite heal from the last time. I smiled and look for something to laugh at, someone to laugh with (your brothers and your dad are great at that). I distract myself with work, things like checking out Amazon for good buys, but it’s just temporary.
Is it just me or time just kinda slows down when we get to August and December.
Last Thursday, I had lunch at Wang Cafe after taking your older brother to school. My usual fare, Mee Siam set with Iced Lemon Tea.
Along came a mother pushing a stroller with a baby, about your younger brother’s age, and a little girl standing on the Lascal Buggy Board. The eldest child, a boy maybe about eight years old, took up the rear. The mother found a table right in front of me, gave instructions to the older brother and the little girl to sit there while she went to place her order, taking the youngest with her.
The little girl, the middle child, decided to take out the Crayola markers from the pouch and some Disney Princess colouring sheets. Her older brother, quite mischevious actually, decided to disturb her by dropping his coin into the back of her dress.
She had the prettiest light grey dress and shiny silver ballerina flats. Her hair was tied up into a short ponytail and she got more and more irritated with her older brother. Although she tried to show her displeasure by giving him the look and pushing his hand away, she didn’t throw any tantrum and decided that the best way for him to stop whatever he was doing was to ignore him and she continued to colour her Belle.
I nearly died there. It was really hard to keep the emotions at bay. My jaws were clenched and my eyes started to sting.
The mother came back and their food came shortly. She cut up the noodles into smaller bits and put aside some chicken macaroni soup for the two older children. The youngest, the baby, started to fuss a little in the stroller but stopped when he found a toy to chew on.
The little girl was too short to eat her macaroni seated on the stool, so she had to kneel on it and ate her lunch on her own.
I left before they finished.
That little girl was you, Leia.
That would have been all of us, you, me, both your brothers.
And it sucks that it isn’t.
On Monday, I saw them again at Wang Cafe. What a coincidence, except the mother had taken the two older children with her.
Once again, the little girl had to kneel on the stool to eat her chicken macaroni soup.
She had another pair of ballerina flats, a light blue one. The prettiest blue I have ever seen. The blue that I would have gotten you this year.
Happy 3rd Birthday, Leia.
We miss you here, always.