I was breastfeeding both my boys while watching the news on the telly with hubs that evening when the newscaster delivered the news about the tragic accident at Tampines involving 2 brothers. A chill immediately ran down my spine and in reflex I hugged both my already snoozing boys a little tighter.
I asked hubs if he heard what I heard : that the boys who died from the crash were BROTHERS.. because I wasn't exactly concentrating on the telly. The news the following day confirmed what I heard… that they were indeed brothers. Elder one aged 13yrs old and the younger only 7yrs old.
While the pictures of the boys fresh from the crash lingered while I tried sleeping yesterday… the picture of the mother just broke my heart.
Our thoughts immediately ran to our elder daughters. DD1 is 11yrs old and DD2 is 9yrs old. Both our daughters take the public transport on their own. The school bus service does not do pick-ups beyond official school dismissal hours. With daily supplementary lessons, CCA, leadership programmes, project work, (etc)… we were forced by circumstances to teach our children how to travel places on their own using public transport. We were expecting another baby on the way. Yes. I was heavily pregnant. The fact that I could travel from where we resided in the North to go to school in the west (where we used to stay) every single day was a feat on its own. The school's prefects and parent volunteers stopped taking down my girls' names for being late after a while. Any new guy doing sentry duty who tried to even scratch that pencil lead on the small black book would be stopped. Hehee.. yuh.. we were regular latecomers because I couldn't walk very fast.
Why didn't I just transfer to another school nearer to home? Oh that.. Now that is another story for another day. Suffice to say that the schools were either full with looooonnng wait list, or we were advised to finish the final school term before even filling out a form or the best one yet… wait for it… wait for it… we were advised to best wait for the new implementation from MOE that was going to be introduced to all schools at the end of the year for all transfer cases and for students who were returning Singaporeans. Realizing that all options have been exhausted, we dealt with the issue by waiting. That meant travelling every single day for one morning session and one afternoon session arrival for both DDs. Till today I cannot fathom how all of us coped. Hubs doesn't work fixed hours, so the girls and I were on our own.
I supposed they just had to grow up a little faster.. and I actually tried to console myself that they cannot depend on me forever, when actually my heart was aching and crying inside having to let them be independent that soon. In my heart I cried… I mean they are just kids…
Fast forward to today, they are still taking the public transport to go to school sometimes together and other times separately on their own. On days the buses are sardine packed and at times does not even stop, my hungry DD2 would walk the distance home in the scorching sun. The school is 3 bus stops away. The bus stops aren't near to each other.
On Thursdays, since DD1 took up violin we have been with the same teacher so even after we shifted we stayed on with the same school because of this teacher. She inspires DD1's musical journey greatly and is extremely patient despite being knowledgable and talented. We believe there are many teachers who are highly educated and knowledgable but it doesn't mean they can all teach well. Hence, the decision. I for one, treat it as exercise. The other children not attending violin has to tag along because we have no helper to supervise them at home. In short every Thursday is excursion day for us.
One of the Thursdays nearing the new year (sometime back) as I got ready to go out of the house to send DD1 for her violin lesson, hubs suddenly appeared at the door. He said he would do the run that day. He said I can rest my bloated feet at home. I hate water retention!
We cannot afford a car and despite having so many children to date, it is just not within our reach regardless if it's a necessity or just a good-to-have. Hubs took over the youngest BIL's burden of a Honda-cup which he obviously couldn't even pay for. He had to do NS. I can forever question the decisions made to salvage problems with the ILs but ultimately, I suppose any good son and sibling will help overcome certain obstacles the family is facing despite whether he found it a burden or not. I didn't like this one decision for I always question the safety of riding a motorbike even if it was a non-racer uncle-type bike. (In fact, I had a few near misses myself with …….. motorbikes.) So Honda-cup only right? Should be slow and safe? Not after you hear this.
New year songs could be in our neighbours' homes that day as they dusted their homes to get ready for the festivities. Hubs was tired having just returned so I didn't mind traveling the distance to send DD1 for violin lessons but upon his insistence, I relented. So with a small backpack to keep her violin books, DD1 went off with hubs and both bade their love-yous and their goodbyes.
About forty-five minutes later I received a call from Yamaha asking if we were coming in for lessons that day. I was taken aback by that call and replied immediately that father and daughter already left 45mins ago. My heart skipped a beat. Teacher said no problem she would wait. Perhaps they are almost near. The minute the call with the violin teacher ended.. another call came in.
"Baby, it's me. Sorry, could you ring the music school to cancel today's lesson? We met up with an accident."
My head spun quite suddenly and I quickly sat down. My tummy ached from the news over the phone. I wanted to ask so many questions but didn't know which I should ask first. But hubs seemed to know what was on my mind. He immediately declared that both were safe but on the way to the hospital to get their injuries checked. "The bike's a wreck." Hubs said. My heart sank. "Is DD1 okay?" I asked while I held my breath in. "Yes." I heaved a long sigh. I rang my Daddie to ask if he finished work and that I needed him.
Once we met up I saw DD1, she was in a wheelchair… her face all dirty and her arms and legs were a little bloody. My heart cried out inside but I didn't show it. I hugged her and she kept saying, "I was so scared, mom. I was so scared."
We all sat close to one another and listened as hubs related the ordeal that just happened. It happened so fast. In mere minutes but the details depicted every second of what they just went through. A slow-mo re-cap you may call it.
They were almost reaching the traffic light junction and he already dropped gear… the bike already slowly and gradually getting ready to halt nearing the line. Out from nowhere, a big lorry was nearing closer and closer to the side of the bike where their right calves were. Hubs moved further left to avoid a swipe but the lorry didn't seem to be slowing down at all. It kept moving into the left. DD1 started to scream and hubs turned around and shouted for the driver to stop but the driver didn't even notice. The lorry's windows were up. Hubs honked the horn together with a few other cars as well. Yes, drivers from other lanes paid attention. The driver still didn't slow down. As the lorry started to move in on them, DD1 screamed, "Daddy!!!" The next moment, hubs just let go of the motorbike sending it a few metres away in front of them as both he and DD1 flew to the side of the road. Everything went fade to black for a few seconds for hubs. Apparently, the lorry driver then abruptly jammed his brakes. Hubs quickly got up from the ground worried about our daughter. He hurried over to her. She seemed to have blacked out for awhile and it took some light nudges to rouse her. DD1 screamed again when her eyes opened. She said, "It's painful daddy. Very painful." She sobbed loudly… shaken… and in pain.
A few drivers stopped behind the lorry to render help and everyone seemed to be silently praying that no one was seriously hurt. Hubs ignored the throbbing pain he had and gently instructed DD1 to move her limbs slowly to make sure nothing was broken or fractured. He prayed that the blood streaked on DD1 was superficial. All the other drivers offered to help with something. One moved the flung motorbike. Another carried DD1 to a safer side of the road. Another helped to direct the traffic.
Yes, the first instinct was to punch the lorry driver as he parked at the side and came out to see if hubs and DD1 were ok. It took every inch of hubs to hold everything in him especially after he shouted, "What the **** were you doing? Can you even see where you are going?" ….. and the response he received was, "Err.. sorry.. sorry.. wo bu dong.. wo bu hui jiang Engrish.. err.. ni gen wo lao ban shuo.. sorry.." Yes. It was a China driver. Hubs really really held it in him I tell you.. really did.. Not that he was xenophobic but majority of his experiences with the foreign talents had been quite bad. Yes. He was angry. Very very angry.
He was angrier when the boss translated over the phone that the driver was a little sleepy and was out delivering new furniture for his company for the new year. He pleaded with hubs to settle. No cops. He will foot everything. From medical, transportation claim, to any income loss due to any absence from work. He pleaded that he has a family with mouths to feed and that it was the new year. He won't scrimp and delay any payment. He gave hubs his company details and hubs kept the driver's ID till they officially met up. The driver too was pretty shook up and apologetic. He looked guilty looking at DD1 wailing at the side of the road. DD1 refused to even look his way.
After consultation, while waiting for treatment and prescription for minor injuries DD1 shared…
DD1 : Mom, I was so scared I couldn't speak. But when I calmed down, I remembered about the motorbike. I told daddy I was sorry that his motorbike was a wreck because of me, because he had to send me. He really just flung his bike. We were both like in the air for a short while. It was scary. But daddy said, don't worry about the bike.
His exact words were, "Don't worry about the bike. As long as you're okay. The bike is not important."
I felt sad when he said that, mom.
Me : Why?
DD1 : I was rude and mean to him. I didn't even wanna practice playing the violin properly cos I didn't feel like it. But he said everything was not important as long as I was ok. Made me feel so guilty. Why did he say that?
Me : Because he's your dad. Parents always forgive their children. Even though they don't say it all the time.
I could feel tears glistening already by then..
DD1 : I told daddy, it must be expensive to fix and we don't have the money… and how was he going to go to work.. Again he said don't worry, it's not important. As long as I was ok. He said, motorbike is not a living thing but I was his life. Motorbike can repair or get another. Then, he asked me if he could buy another daughter from the shop. Silly daddy, of course cannot. But all this time I thought he was angry with me because I didn't listen.. I thought he didn't love me.
Me : All parents love their children, sweetie.. even though they don't show it all the time.
Back at home.. with packed food for dinner so I didn't have to fuss abt cooking and clearing, all of us ate a quiet meal that evening. As I cleared up the rubbish, I gestured hubs to put DD1 to bed. I advised him to give her some closure to put her at ease and also loosen her up from that mini scare.
I saw them in embrace and as he lightly touched her hair running through it gently putting it in place, I heard him tell her..
"Nothing is ever more important than my children. That is why I work so hard, so we can at least try to live a comfortable life. Now with another baby coming along, I have to work doubly hard. I love all of you more than anything. I am sorry the accident frightened you. It was my fault. I should've been more careful. I shouldn't even have gotten you on the bike in the first place. I am sorry."
DD1 just nodded, her cheeks streaming with tears. Before hubs left the room, he kissed her forehead gently and whispered to her I love you and have a good rest.
The tragic crash in Tampines sparked a dejavu for me and my family. Hence this long post.
This new year, I encourage you to acknowledge your love for your family.. to forgive.. out with the old (bad history) and embrace the new.. well it is "NEW" Year ain't it? May all years of bad history be buried so that new history can be made.
I've shared this before. Life is short. Live life to its fullest.
Live like everyday is your last. Make Everyday Count.
~ For the family of the two innocent boys from the tragedy, my heart, my thoughts and my prayers are with you… As you ache and pine for the loss of your sons, I am aching with you. I am praying with you. Your pain today only serves to remind me to love my family even more. ~
Cherish what we have now and not only when we have lost it. Stay safe everyone. Never take safety for granted whether you are a driver or a pedestrian.. Have a blessed new year celebration and bask in the bliss of being around your families.. for there are others who are without.