This weblog was not only to keep up with the Joneses of Internet advancement. It was meant to jog my memory to bygone times, one where I could turn to whenever I wanted to call to mind what I was doing or thinking of on a particular day months or years past. It would have been nice to read about days long-gone that I thought was important enough to be written down. It would have been interesting to see how much I have grown, or have not, through the years. It should have been a record of my life shared with anyone who was sufficiently curious to learn what went on in the mind and life of a severely disabled man. It should have been my story – The Story of Peter Tan.
However, whenever the desire to be reminded of those days arose, I would be shrouded in a cloak of trepidation to let bygones be bygones. There was this perpetual dread of having to pore through the archives. Buried in the shallow tomes of this still infant project are accounts of events that I wished I had not made a note of. This weblog not only tells my story alone for I have unwittingly documented the last days of my mother’s life as well. Curious I may be to bring to mind those days when the light of my life was unsuspectingly turned off I seldom have the courage to relive them through what I have recorded with my own hands.
Those few times that I was bold enough to venture into it, I ended up weeping. When I thought I had steeled my resolve to move on and let the memories of Mum be pleasant ones only, when I thought I could read those jottings without the accompanying profound sadness, I unfailingly broke down again. I had thought I could handle the loss and the ensuing grief but I was obviously mistaken. Mum’s passing had affected me deep and hard. Sometimes I wondered if men my age take a parent’s death like I did or am I the exception?
Only Wuan knew how much I was hurting prior to Mum’s demise. We would talk on the phone in the middle of the night for hours and hours on ends. I would update her on Mum’s condition and confided in her about my inability to do anything to ease her suffering but just see her gradual decline helplessly. In the darkness, I would cry unabashedly while she would wait for me to settle down and then console me.
As Mum was slipping away and her end had become a certainty Jenny, my former physiotherapist, had wondered how I was going to take it. Jenny knew very well my physical abilities and how much I had depended on Mum for my daily routines and how close we were to each other. In her own subtle ways, she eased me into accepting the inevitable. Even then, I was reluctant to accept the fact that Mum was going to die. She was a fighter. She had gone through more trials and tribulations than I ever dared to imagine and each time, she had triumphed over them. She was not going to be defeated this time. I was confident.
The inevitable did happen and my life suddenly changed. Living without Mum was very unreal those first few months. Only Wuan knew how much tears I had shed and how I had cried my throat hoarse. I felt despondent for not being able to help Mum when she was suffering. Outwardly, I displayed a mien of controlled mourning but inwardly, I was teetering on the brink of a deep depression. Wuan was hurting as much, maybe even more, to see me sinking deeper and deeper, yet she still persevered in trying to raise my spirits night after night.
Once, Rosalynn had asked Wuan if I was suicidal after reading my entries about Mum. The truth was for a fleeting moment it did cross my mind. A body my weight would not take that long to hit the ground after falling twenty storeys. Depression deprives the mind of its sensibilities and impregnates it with a dark aching despair that is difficult to shake off sometimes. It also crossed my mind that if I did die and meet Mum, how was I going to explain to her why I came so soon after her? How was I to explain to her why I had not chosen to go on living when she had long ago taken pains to prepare for the day when she was no longer here and I could still live comfortably? The fear of being admonished by Mum at the other side was far greater than the fear of death itself that suicide stayed a figment in my mind and did not come to fruition.
One year on, I am still mourning. The tears are still flowing and the heart is still grieving. I am slowly picking up my life again. To stumble thrice, one harder than the other and trying to climb back up is really tough. I did not take it as badly as when Dad passed away, perhaps because I was not as closely involved in his nursing care as I did Mum’s. Another reason was because Mum had been always there for me no matter what that made her death so difficult to get over.
Although this time around I grieved more profoundly, the playing field was radically changed. I found God, or He found me. For twenty years, I had questioned His existence but that one moment of vision I had was more than enough to convince me there indeed is a God. Twenty years of doubts vanished into thin air just like that. Was Mum’s death essential in altering my belief? Would I have eventually accepted the faith if Mum was still hale and hearty? That I will never know. What I do know is that the divine insight I had beside Mum’s deathbed provided me with the impetus to seek a spiritual rebirth in Jesus.
This weblog has recorded it all – the happy, the exhilarating, the divine, the betrayal, the grieving and the hurt. I will continue to write about God, about Mum, about my grieving because that is my life and the purpose of this weblog. It should keep track of the significant whether happy or otherwise. Anyway, my life is not all that glum. There are some bright and joyful instances too, colourful characters that had touched my heart and scrumptious food that had tickled my appetite. These will all be documented here. Perhaps one day in the future, I will find the strength to relive those heartbreaking moments leading to Mum’s death but for now I will just read the happy and funny to tide me over those gloomier days. Here is my life and you are invited to join me in this journey as I continue to move forward while taking little peeks into the past from time to time.
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Mum?s First Death Anniversary was a day of contemplation for me. I am eternally grateful for having a mother like her. She was loving, kind and most of all she did not let her lack of nursing skills from nuturing me back to health when I broke my neck. She was creative and resourceful, using her own initiative to create an environment that was conducive to my convalescence and gave me food that restored my vigour.
Adel had arranged for a prayer for Mum during the Sunset Mass on Saturday at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. One year ago, I would not have imagined that I would be celebrating Mass in a church. Life is such that we go one full circle only to find ourselves back where we began.
On Sunday, Peter, Cheng Ee (Mum?s youngest sister) and I went to the columbarium where Mum?s ashes were interred as a sign of remembrance and respect. We recited our own prayers for the repose of Mum?s soul. I was overcame by the occasion and sniffled. I tried hard to hold back the sadness and tears that overwhelmed me.
We made our way to the Church of the Risen Christ in Ayer Itam just in time for the Sunday Morning Mass. Cheng Ee had put Mum?s name down for a prayer in the memory of her first death anniversary. The Mass was in Mandarin but I could just about follow the proceedings. Catholic Masses are celebrated in the same manner worldwide which made it easy. Whatever the language or dialect, the arrangements are almost all the same from the beginning to the end.