To you, Mum

Dear Mum,

Was it just a year ago that you left us so suddenly, leaving us to grapple with the loss? Has it been only 365 days of having to learn to get on with our lives despite knowing, deep down, that things are — and will never be — the same again? The past 12 months have sometimes felt like 12 long years of drought.

And yet, despite the acute sense of loss and grief, despite our continuing struggle to cope, you have somehow held us all together. Sure, we’ve each had our moments of falling apart, but it is love — for you, for Dad, and for each other as family — that has been the superglue that keeps us bonded.

We learnt this from you and Dad, Mum.

When I look back, I wish I had made more effort, despite my busy schedule, to pick up the phone to call you, just to chat, more often. But I’m so glad that you weren’t afraid to do just that when you felt you hadn’t heard from me in a while. Because it is the memories of those sometimes trivial, yet always loving, conversations we shared that now inspire me to keep in touch with the people who are in my life. For they are in my life for a reason, and that makes them important.

I have watched Dad valiantly struggle through the past year, one day at a time, despite his loneliness and crippling grief. And somehow, despite our mad work schedules and commitments, my sisters and I have managed to work out and form as solid a support system as we can for him. It isn’t ideal, but it is perfect as it is, given the circumstances.

Today, we commemorated the first anniversary of your passing, and we were joined by relatives and friends who had remembered the date on their own and had asked if they could join us in visiting you at the columbarium. Not only did they take time off from their Chinese New Year celebrations to do this, but  they even came dressed in sober colours, on this 5th day of the Year of the Golden Pig.

And when we all sat down to lunch later, the conversation was light and filled with laughter as we reminisced about you. How often did we laugh and say, “Oh, Mum would love this!” or “Ugh, Mum doesn’t like that!”.

We still talk about you in the present tense. You know why? Because every person at that table has their own memories of you, and I realised that you have influenced or helped shape each of us into the person that we are today, in some degree or other, just by being you. What an amazingly powerful legacy that is.

So here’s to you, Mum. You are still with us, every moment of every day, because you are so very much alive in our hearts. And your light continues to shine through the way we each live our lives, one day at a time.

If I could make half the impact on the lives that I touch, it would be a life well lived. Thanks for the gift of this lesson. I love you.

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