Emotional yet Thankful (Mel)

1:04:00 PM

It has been a week filled with mixed emotions, but one thing I'm sure of is that I'm thankful - thankful for the many things in life that God has blessed our family with, in particular, my father-in-law Anthony (whom I will refer to as Daddy in this post), during the last moments of his life, and the many people and professionals who have made this transition in our lives a smooth one.

To our readers who have been following our posts recently and telling us to keep our hopes high and that you will pray for us, we regret to inform you that Daddy has left us peacefully on the morning of 14 March 2015 amongst his loved ones. Thank you for all your prayers all these while.

When Daddy first felt discomfort in the end of Nov 2014, we brought him to A&E where the doctors urged us to send him in for an urgent endoscopy and they got him a slot for the procedure 2 days later. That night, I remember getting home and I cried for a long while because I was afraid of what was going to happen. The doctors suspected that if could be a cyst, but if more serious, it was cancerous. Ben held me in his arms and told me that everything was going to be okay and that we had to be prepared should it not go the way we wanted it to.

And it didn't go the way we wanted it to.

A week later, we found out how serious the matter had became and the areas which the cancer had spread to. It was an emotional few weeks from that day onward. 

But I knew that I had to stay strong throughout this period. Not only was there the wedding to plan for within 6 weeks, Ben was very affected by Daddy's condition. I knew that I had to step in and take charge of the wedding preparations and take on responsibilities at home after the wedding. And so, I never cried or showed my unhappiness in front of Ben because I knew that he would have been more worried for me if he knew how much it affected me as well. 

However, I found it difficult to comfort Ben at times because I knew that a hug or shoulder for him to lean on would send me into tears as well. 

For such moments, Ben, I'm sorry that I couldn't comfort you in any way better.

Instead, I would always remind him that he had to stay strong for the family, and I found other ways to cheer him up. They were simple ways, like changing the bedsheets, packing his closet, filing the bills, stocking up his favourite 2-in-1 coffee... 

My sister knows me best, she knows my character inside out. I believe she knew how I had been struggling with my emotions over the past few months. When she learnt that my father-in-law passed away while she was in Sabah attending her friend's wedding, she called me immediately but I couldn't pick up because I knew that her voice would have sent me crying over the phone. So I sent her a message telling her it was inconvenient to speak and she replied asking if I was okay and that she was worried for me. 

I'm sure she knew how much he had meant to me.

The time I spent with Daddy after my marriage may have been short, but I am grateful that I had spent a fruitful 7 years with my parents-in-law ever since Ben and I had gotten together.

I've heard stories from friends and elders over my years of courtship that "your in laws will treat you differently after marriage". But let me tell you that it's not necessarily a "negative difference", it can be positive too, like in my case. My relationship with Ben was unlike my past relationships. This time round, I made sure that both our families were more involved and if there were chances for our parents to gel with each other, we took it.

Ben and I love staying home on weekends and I believe that this is largely influenced by my father-in-law. 

He enjoyed watching Cantonese dramas. He had poor hearing and never liked it when people interrupted him whenever he was engrossed with the series as he would have to pause it or rewind it back to the part he had missed. It was through joining him in his drama marathons that I started to gain interest in the language as well, at times trying my best to answer his questions with my half-past-six replies in Cantonese, sending him into giggles.

He loved family time and would always call for dinner to begin earlier at 530pm so that we could continue our conversations and laughters post dinner time at the dining table. He treasured whatever time we had together as a family - a very devoted family man. 

He loved cooking and eating. But because he worked as a taxi driver and did the night shift, my mother in law was in charge of weekday dinners while he would takeover on Sunday nights, the night that most of us would put aside all our other plans to gather for a family meal at home. We favoured eating at home as compared to eating out, cooking our meals instead of ordering takeouts. Somehow, whatever he experimented in the kitchen tasted good, and even it it didn't, the amount of love and effort that he and his wife placed into the dishes overpowered that.

Before I got married, I already gained another Dad.

I remember how deeply affected I was after getting my dad's car into an accident a few years back. My dad was overseas then and I was so afraid of informing him about it as I was always told to be very careful with the car. Ben stayed over with me that night as I was still traumatised over it and when he told his Dad about it, he called me first thing in the morning to check up on me, asking if I was okay and why didn't I call him to the scene the day before when I was alone. In fact, whenever he learnt that I was feeling unwell, he would drop me an SMS or call to ask if I was feeling better.

He wasn't severely overweight, he just enjoyed food and it was unfortunate that he cared less about exercising. We always teased about his ball-shaped belly and how he looked like he had swallowed a whole watermelon. 

But the past 3 months, we saw how cancer affected his entire self. It was only after going through 10 sessions of radiotherapy that he started to lose his appetite and had no interest in his favourite food because everything just seemed tasteless to him. He spent most of his time in bed and at times it could take him minutes to an hour before he could fall asleep.

I believe that one of the reasons why everything happened so quickly was because he had a lot of worries, he was stressed and he kept all these troubles to himself. Even as he laid in hospital, he would constantly be thinking about everything - the house, finances, our family, and he would ask me to note down the things he needed Ben to settle.

If only he had less worries, if only he had less weight on his shoulders.

Bringing forward our wedding was indeed a wise choice made. He completed 10 sessions of Radiotherapy a month before our wedding and while he occasionally had side effects from therapy, he remained strong and persevered. 

Choosing to move in and help take care of my father-in-law was also another decision that I do not regret, for it was very heartwarming whenever he allowed me to care for him and whenever he held my hand tightly for a long time while I tapped him to sleep. He couldn't talk much, closer to his final days, but I would still speak to him softly. He listened and at times he would tear a little.

His pain escalated the day before he left us and only morphine could soothe him and calm him down. As his breathing started to get slower and slower minutes before God took him into his arms, we prayed, and we remained thankful - thankful for all the help and prayers from our loved ones, friends and acquaintances throughout this difficult time and also the professionals who took care of Daddy at the hospital and at home. In particular, 

All doctors, nurses and therapists from Changi General Hospital and National Cancer Centre who guided us in his cancer journey and ensured a comfortable stay for him whenever he was warded. I realised how he would eat a lot more at the hospital as compared to at home, probably also because at home we wouldn't force him to if he didn't want, but I believe the nurses played a part too.

Doctor Jean and Nurse Mee Hong from Assisi Hospice, who visited and treated my father-in-law on a weekly basis when we transferred him from hospital to home palliative care. Doctor Jean also counselled him and stayed back to talk to him at each visit. Thank you Assisi Hospice for your voluntary service. Ben and I will most definitely contribute back to your hospice in one or or another.

Extraordinary Ministers of our church and the estate, particularly Thomas, who came by almost daily to give Holy Communion to Daddy and prayed for him since he was bed bound from Feb 2015 onwards. Your healing touch has certainly comforted him and assured him that he is in the safe hands of the Lord.

Parish priests from our Church of the Holy Trinity, all our godparents and church friends of my Mum Dorothy, for never failing to offer up prayers and petitions for a smooth recovery for him. Even though Daddy was not able to fully recover and be with us today, we saw how prayers helped him whenever he was in pain and how he left us peacefully.   

My mother-in-law, Venetia, for her strength and commitment in being Daddy's 24/7 caregiver ever since he got hospitalised. Thank you for showing us the meaning of being true to our partner, in sickness and in health.

All relatives, friends, acquaintances and blog readers for your kind words and encouragement during our period of grief. We will stay united and continue to take care of each other, especially mummy.

WK, Lidya & Doro for covering our work for us when we were busy with our wedding preparations or family matters.

Our Piano and Guitar students and their parents, for their kind understanding when we had to cancel lessons every now and then over the past few months.

Dear Daddy, I wish we had more time to bond together and that you could have seen more of our achievements as a couple. But you're in a safer place right now and I hope that you've been freed of your pain. Thank you for marrying Mummy Vene and for bringing Ben into this world, he is truly one of a kind - a thoughtful, patient, understanding, forgiving and doting husband and I am very grateful for that. 

You have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7).

'Til we meet again :) 

You Might Also Like


Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images