As a little girl, I lived a simple life as most average Singaporeans. Life may not always be rosy but I am contented with what I have – a complete family.
As a girlfriend and wife, I was the envy of most surrounding me as I had a very doting and loving boyfriend who would later become my husband. We met in school when we were 17, fell in love and got married. Everything seemed picture perfect. The future seemed nothing short of whatever I had dreamed of – growing old with the only man I had ever loved.
What more could a girl ask for? Even my wish of having a baby borne in the year of monkey came true. When we found out about my pregnancy, it was a pleasant surprise. Jase was born in 2004. He was supposed to be one of the luckiest children blessed with loving parents and doting grandparents who spoiled him crazy. Shortly after the birth of Jase, I was pregnant again with my little girl, Charmaine.
A Tumultuous Time
Little did I know, my world would come tumbling down onto me very soon without any warning. Into the 7th month of my pregnancy, I received a text message on my mobile asking for a divorce. We may not be the most perfect couple, but we rarely fought and there were no signs that our marriage was doomed. The whole turn of event was a shock. I was stunned. My husband left me for my a good friend of mine.
I had built an entire universe around him and I could never imagine how I could live a day without him in my life. Nonetheless, it was not a destiny I could choose.
A Single Journey
Emotionally challenged, my single journey began with an unborn child and a toddler in toll. Nevertheless, I considered myself to be very blessed with these two little angels; — Jase and Charmaine. They are the greatest gift to me and I would not have come this long way without them. In fact, without the strength drawn from my unborn baby Charmaine during the tumultuous period, I could not imagine what I might have done to myself then. My children were the very reason why I could still smile and stay happy during those trying times. My babies kept me busy, loved me unconditionally when I felt all alone and made me see a future with them. With them, I learnt to count my blessings.
A very good friend of mine told me this: “You have gone through the worst in your life, there’s nothing that will get you down anymore”. I had comforted myself that my divorce was indeed the last of my sorrows and it was over. It made moving on less painful.
I Count My Blessings
Quite quickly, days passed, months passed and Jase is already turning 5, whereas Charmaine is turning 4. My life is packed with busying myself over the kids and making sure I bring enough to feed all the 7 mouths (my parents, my brother, my kids, my helper and myself) at home. Though we were sleeping on mattresses on the floor, the kids and I still had all the fun. I have forgotten how tough life is because I have my family and friends surrounding me.
Deep down within me, I always feel guilty towards my babies. I owed them a complete family. I do not consider myself pitiful as I grew up in a complete family and had a decent childhood like any average child. However, Jase and Charmaine are not as lucky as I am and I cannot help but think that it is my fault because I was the one who brought them into this world. When their father left, Jase was not even a year old and Charmaine was not even born. Charmaine was only in her father’s arms once for a brief few minutes when she was just born. Their father barred himself from the kids. Hence, the kids never saw their father again.
Nonetheless, I am determined to give them the best I could. I might never be the best but all that I ask for is for them to be happy and healthy. We led our normal lives and it seemed that everything was looking up.
A Black Friday…A Nightmare Unfolds…
The day was 13 February 2009. Friday the 13th. ; The ‘blackest’ Friday of my life.
Just when I thought that the worst in my life was long over, someone decided to play another cruel joke on me. WHY ME? WHY my baby girl? WHY WHY WHY???
I found Charmaine’s right rib cage protruding slightly higher than her left and thought that there may be something amiss. I sought Charmaine’s godma, Alexis who is a nurse at CGH for her opinion. We brought her to CGH for a checkup. The doctor found an enlarged liver and hence referred her to KKH. However, KKH gave us an appointment in March , which was a month away. Alexis decided that it would be better to bring Charmaine in earlier. Hence, Alexis arranged to go down to KKH with us on the 13th. I had mentally prepared myself that Charmaine would be admitted so that they can prepare her for an X-ray or some sort of scan. However, I did not anticipate that it would be the start of a nightmare for me and my entire family.
Charmaine was in no pain or any discomfort when we brought her in. Even the medical officer who saw her said Charmaine should be discharged rather soon. From the initial suspicions of leukemia to ultra-sound scans showing a 12 cm tumor the following morning, everything came fast and swift. Once again, there was no sign, no pre-warning, nothing. Immediately after the ultra-sound scan on Saturday, Charmaine became an URGENT case. Plug was set, 8 tubes of blood drawn, more CT scans. All within the next couple of hours. Charmaine was scared and she cried so hard. So was I. I was terrified. What was happening? What was I to expect? My entire family went into shock. Just 24 hours ago, we were still singing at home and monkeying around. A week before, we were still happily celebrating Chinese New Year. All of a sudden, we were told the grim news that my little princess is seriously ill! Impossible! Unbelievable! She was still laughing and she looked perfectly healthy and fine!
My Innocent Child
I know life is not always fair but I have never complained of my own predicament. Because there are two sides to a coin and I have managed to convince myself to look on the brighter side. After all, the kids have taught me to count my blessings. However, no matter hard I try, I cannot find the brighter side to this episode.
Charmaine is just an innocent little girl. To begin with, she does not have a father. Why, then, does she have to go through this terrifying and painful journey? And, she is not even four years old. I cannot comprehend all the punishing events that are befalling on my little girl. I wish I am the one who is being punished. But, I can only watch my child suffer. Do you know what is the most painful thing you can wreck on a mother? To watch your own child suffer before your eyes and rendering yourself totally helpless. This is a million times more painful than losing the man you love. It is as if whatever pain I had suffered during my divorce was not enough to repay whatever sins I had committed in my previous lives. Can I please repay in some other ways? Leave my babies alone!!!
I feel like the forsaken child. The month following after was just filled with more and more negative news coming my way. 4th stage neuroblastoma, poor prognosis, 10% survival rate and my mother suffering a seizure hours after Charmaine’s discharge. Why is everything going wrong in my life?
My tears are dry. I do not know what the future holds for me and my family but I know that my feisty princess is definitely putting up her best in this battle. She still smiles and laughs, just like the very same princess I have always have. I still cannot fit the reality of her health into my life. Jase and Charmaine still fight and make up like they always do. We are all still trying to find some normalcy into our lives which is not easy with all of us having to change our lifestyles. Even my parents beyond their 60s are putting in efforts, I know all the more I have to fight on.
Life is never fair but I shall tread this road
I have since stopped work to tend to my little girl. She has become terrified at every needle, wary of every doctors and nurses and is phobic of every hospital visits. Of course, how would a little child comprehend that her tiny body must be battered to get better?
It has been heartwarming to know that my feisty princess and my family are not alone in this fight. Our friends quickly swarm us with anything and everything they could offer, neighbours stepped forth with help immediately, relatives visited with comforting words, colleagues and ex-colleagues poured in their well wishes, teachers who shed tears upon hearing Charmaine’s plight, strangers who penned words of encouragement and many others whom I may not remember at this moment, thank you. A BIG THANK YOU, my friends, also for the donations to help me get by our expenses now that I am no longer working.
I pray endlessly that my feisty princess would triumph against all odds and show that the most amazing miracle could happen. Please, please, please let my prayers be heard. I simply cannot lose my feisty princess, neither can Jase afford to lose his Mei Mei. We need each other to make our lives complete. Please let our feisty princess be the miracle in the lives of anyone who knows her. Let her live to a ripe old age together with her Kor Kor because there is still so much more in life that they have not seen and done.