09 June, 2016

It's Been 3 Months

On some days, it feels like mom's gone too quickly, too soon.

On some days, it feels like mom's been gone forever.

Some days I still dream of her, as if she was still alive.

And on some days, I dream of her with the full awareness that she's gone.

It is very strange. Grief is very strange.

Dealing with it at this stage of my life feels very strange.

Being kept busy at work and moving houses at the same time (I know! It's been very unexpected. We had to look for a new place to rent soon as our landlord informed us that he was gifting our present unit to his newly-wedded son) have helped to temporarily numb the pain. But when I'm alone with my thoughts - usually right before going to sleep, driving to/from work by myself - that's when it hits me.

Strangely, this difficult period in my life has been a bit of a blessing too. Firstly, it's been a huge learning experience. Learning more about myself, prioritizing what's important, making changes and working harder on keeping familial relations, having more empathy for people.. yip, it's been a very interesting experience. I have had some friends reaching out to me too - this I have much to be thankful for. Particularly friends who have gone through the same thing - losing a parent or a very very close family member (grandparent). Without them (you know who you are) - I think I'd be even more lost - right from going through the entire funeral, managing my responses/feelings/thoughts post-funeral, sorting out and rearranging mom's stuff, to helping dad transition to widowhood as seamlessly as possible... well - as you can see - the list goes on.

Love you mom. We think of you everyday and missing you hurts like hell.

Just having friends around that I can reach out to online and offline has been comforting. And for this - I have much to be thankful for *.Very thankful for friends who came from near and afar. Thank you to each and every one of you, and my apologies for not having pics of all of you who were there for me.

* And of course, thankful to my extended family members and relatives - this goes without saying...

09 May, 2016

Lest We Forget

Her voice.

We must remember her voice.

09 April, 2016

It's been a month

... and I miss her terribly.

Just thinking about the prospect of not ever seeing her again overwhelms me with sadness.

I love you ma.
I think of you everyday.
I miss you.

25 March, 2016

Goodbye Ma

9th March 2016 would forever be remembered as the day mom left us
(TAKE NOTE: LONG POST AHEAD - have a cuppa tea ready!)
Mom's death was very very sudden and very sad. Our hearts are heavy. Nobody saw this coming. She went in for a standard Whipple surgery on a Thursday to remove a non-cancerous cyst at the head of her pancreas and was recovering well post-surgery - it was almost a miracle. Docs were expecting that she would be bed-ridden for at least a week and on a liquid diet for 2 weeks. But she was able to walk about the hospital ward on the 3rd day (Sun) and even managed to eat some rice porridge on the 4th day (Mon) after her surgery!! Dad was even planning to take her home later that week so she could recuperate at home.
However on the 5th day (Tue), the nurse later informed my dad that she couldn't wake up properly in the morning and was complaining of a headache-giddiness, went back to zzz and quietly slid into a coma. A subsequent CT scan showed that she suffered a massive stroke to her brain, and had to be hooked up to machines to help her breathe. She deteriorated really quickly after that and docs warned us to expect her to suffer a cardiac arrest anytime on Wed.
Dad requested they try their best to keep her alive until I arrived home that Thursday arvo but she couldn't hang on. She suffered a cardiac arrest over night n passed away just as I was embarking my connecting flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur. I didn't get to see her. They kept it from me until I arrived at the airport :( (which I now understand why - poor family didn't want me to cry the whole way through and not get any sleep).
When I was being kept updated on mom's progress at the hospital - I recall having really mixed feelings. Generally, you're hit with a feeling of helplessness - especially seeing this is the first time something so close n personal has struck me and my family.
A mix of helplessness (I can't do anything about it), guilt (being physically so far away), sadness (it's my mom) and even a bit of selfishness (slight relief that it's my dad/sis managing it n not me because I'm not sure if I can cope).
I know it makes me sound like an awful person but it's the truth. I dunno how to describe it any other way. You'll never experience this range of feelings until you've been in such a situation yourself. 
Regardless, nobody expected this. I thought I'd come home to see mom in a coma at the hospital and possibly go through a really difficult recovery period, but not this. Not returning home and having to bury her.
During the wake and funeral, the major sentiment was shock. Friends esp church friends just saw her alive and smiling a few days before and some even the night before she suffered the stroke. Most of our relatives from near and far came along too - mom is and was truly loved so it was really heartening to witness such a great turnout :).
One thing I've worked out - you THINK you'd be prepared for a parent's death... when my mom was diagnosed with cysts (despite them not being cancerous) last year, i sorta thought I'd have to start 'readying' myself, you know? - familiarising myself with thoughts of losing her, the concept of death, etc. but when this actually happened - shit - you're never really prepared.
Anyway, my sister and I have been sorting and clearing mom's stuff . We've always known she was a bit of a hoarder - but by golly - on a scale of 1-10, she's a solid 11. We've found stuff dating back from the 80s! Of course, we've kept a few mementos - her best-looking clothes, favourite make-up, personal mementos - to remember her by too. We are careful not to clear away TOO MUCH stuff too quickly too. I've been receiving lots of advice from friends in similar situations before - some said to clear the 'obvious' stuff (old make up, old clothes, mom's medicine) away first, and do the rest a year later. I think that's a splendid idea.
Occasionally I'd tear up when I chance upon some notes that she's written to remind herself on things to do when she was going to return home from the hospital... motivational biblical verses she's written to provide comfort during difficult times, recipes she's meticulously written down and collected from newspapers and magazines over the years. We've even found some things she stored away for her future grandkids... (i was never aware). that tears me up inside.. ;(
Apart from that, we had heaps of legal stuff to sort out too - closing down accounts, cancelling cards, transferring names, reassigning beneficiaries, etc. Never have I had to practise my loghat Kedah when speaking Malay to officials at banks and government departments!
The support from our local church members has been fantastic. Them coming to the house every night (since my mom passed ) has brought some life to the house. Having people around around has provided a lot of comfort to my dad. Faith is indeed a strange thing. I have been blown over by the generosity with our church members - most of them are as old as my parents, of course (LOL) - but these are aunties and uncles whom I've seen and known since I was young and growing up. This is also the same church I was baptized in, had my first Holy Communion, Confirmation and got married to Albertus (yip! Mom insisted we get married in my local church years ago). Very special indeed.
We've also been sorting, organising, tagging, etc. other stuff around the house - eg kitchen, groceries, washing area, home library, etc. to make dad's transition to widowhood as seamless as poss. Not an easy feat. - simplifying and compartmentalising some parts of his lifestyle. I labelled stuff around the house (so he knows what he has - e.g. what's in each food container), taught him how to use the washing machine, ran him through some basic cooking tutes, etc.
Being together for nearly 45 years would certainly have left a hole in his life - sigh! But what can one do but to go through the motions. Slowly... slowly... the wound will slowly become a scar. I have encouraged him to grieve - he has a tendency to black out sad/negative thoughts - in my opinion, if he does that, the problem doesn't go away but gets compounded instead - he may 'explode' one day and fall into deep depression. :(
So I encourage him to think of mom... telling him it's okay, and it's part of the process, I've also been encouraging him to recall the happy and sad times with mom - even the 'funny-frustrating' times - just to add a bit of humour into the mix. Amusingly, I've also encouraged him to call upon her when he cannot find things in the house (she's always been the go-to person every time he cannot find something) - so far it's worked twice!! LOL Hearing stuff like that truly comforts me :)
As for my own mental state - I'm okay for now. Going through mom's stuff, sorting out the house, spending time with my dad and sis ... has really helped. I reckon when I'm back in NZ it'll be even easier for me because I'll get back into my usual work-life routine.
But the feeling of guilt remains - I guess that's the thing about being so physically far away. And of course, needless to say - the feeling of sadness and loss... these feelings remain for life. I'm only comforted by the fact the she led a full life (it's hard to name a country she hasn't been to), got to eat all her favourite food (yip, she knew she was a diabetic, but she still guiltily had all the yummy food she wanted to eat) and that she was, and would never be in any physical pain.
I love you Mom. I know you're happier now where you are and that you'll always smile down and look out for us from Heaven :)

24 February, 2016

So Tired


This is how tiring the whole trip was.

ZZZZ-ing on the way to KLIA for our flight back to Auckland