The organised chaos

Happy anniversary, Dad

Hello Dad,

How have you been since I last saw you exactly 18 years ago, yesterday?

Time really flies. Then, I was just six years old, a mere slip of a girl. You went off to work and we waved goodbye to you. Then, the sista and I helped out Mum in the kitchen to make tangyuan, since it was Dong Zhi. I remember going to the NTUC with Mum and buying the pre-packed dumplings and then happily throwing them into into the dark soup that Mum loves to make with the tangyuan.

We never knew it would be the last time we would ever see you alive. The phone call came in the evening and all I can remember is Mum keeling over, her loud sobs echoing around our little flat. Before I knew it, we were all bundled into Uncle’s car and on our way to the hospital, only I didn’t know we were going to the hospital. But even then, at the age of six, I had an inkling that something was not right and started praying in the backseat of the car, the very first prayer of my life. It was for you but somehow, God didn’t seem to have hear it.

It’s really surreal but I recall walking down the corridors of the hospital, its smell and sterile environment really getting to me. As we walked, me trying to keep up with the adults, Mum suddenly burst out crying again. And try as I might, I cannot seem to remember what happened then. It’s almost as if that part of my life, those few hours, have disappeared somewhere down the black hole of my memories.

The next few days passed on by in a haze, for me at least. I didn’t know what a funeral was, I was still happily playing with my cousins at the wake, in between bouts of prayers and procedures. But I know I was scared of seeing you sleep in the coffin, all stiff and unreal. I instinctively shied away from getting near you, because it wasn’t you. The person lying there wasn’t you at all, it wasn’t the man who had cooked fried rice for me, who had washed my hair and dried it so fiercely that I whined out in pain, who had allowed me to swing like a monkey on your arm as we crossed the road, who had picked the sista and I up from school at one end of the carpark before “driving” us home to the other end. It wasn’t you there, I knew it wasn’t you.

It was only at the last day that something clicked in my mind. I don’t know why but somehow, I started bawling noisily and endlessly like a baby and suddenly, everyone around me started crying too. I was hugged and passed from one relative to another to be cuddled and calmed but I just could not stop. And then, it was gone. You were gone.

The next 10 years were probably the most difficult to live through. Every December, every Qing Ming, Mum would be overwhelmed by sorrow and there was nothing we could do but to let her cry. It was really painful. And for those years, the social, emotional and financial repercussions of your absence and lack of financial planning emerged and sometimes, the going went really tough. God knows how often I wanted to just hide and escape from the difficulty of it all. But I couldn’t.

But we have made it through and somehow, we think you would be pleased too, even as we imagine you doing rascally things like gambling and drinking and travelling in the world that you live in now. I don’t have dreams of you anymore, they have stopped since I was young. I used to dream of you and me and would wake up in tears, only to realise the dream wasn’t real.

In a way, your very absence have shaped us to be the individuals that we are today. Maybe the sista and I are a little bit tougher, somewhat more wary and vulnerable. But really, I think you would be happy to see us today. She’s going to get married soon to a very nice man who has proposed to her, and I, well, I guess I need to sit down and count my blessings more often.

Do we miss you? I don’t know. I never really had much chance to spend time with you to know what kind of impact you would have on my life. Do I wish that you were here? Yes, because I think it might have made me a better person.

I will soon turn 25 and I hope you are proud of me, of all that I have achieved. I may not be the perfect daughter with the perfect temperament and talents but I think I did okay.

I hope you think so too. Here’s to another year ahead of us, a better year.

Always your little monkey girl,

7 thoughts on “Happy anniversary, Dad”

  1. I fear losing my father and know that when I do, I will probably never get over it. Perhaps this fear stops me from accomplishing the things I truly want…the things that will take me away from him physically. Reading your entry, I realise I am not alone. It is a universal pain and fear. Maybe if we knew for certain where they go, we will not a tear…shed.

    I wish you well. *:-.)


  2. This made me cry. I was close to losing my dad this year, and I can’t imagine losing him. I can’t imagine what you have gone through too, but I’m glad that you came out of it okay, and better. Your dad would be proud of you.


  3. tearing as I am reading your letter……feel so much emotion that I don’t know how to express. Just wish you didn’t have to endure so much pain. Dads are so precious and to lose your dad at such a tender age……

    I lost mine when I was much older, but it still hurt so bad and it still does….hard to talk about…which I why I think you’re so brave to talk about your emotions, head on.

    I immediately thought, your dad would be soooo darn proud of you…the amazing, kind hearted woman that you are 🙂


  4. i read you now and then. and thank you for not going private. so that allows me to come by still.
    i miss my dad too. i might write about it, one day.


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