Friday, December 19, 2008

Ring Ring. Wake up call.

As I tried to sort out a million things in my head while driving home this evening, my body went into autopilot.

I must remember to sort out those xrays.
The patient needs a new wheelchair.
She needs to have her blood pressure sorted out, or she will have another stroke soon.
That young boy is still having a lot of tremours after his head injury. We need to find ways to compensate for his safe return to school.
His wife is dieing of cancer. He needs to learn to take care of himself now.
The roof is leaking.
The kitchen pipes have burst.
The upstairs bathroom is leaking into the downstairs bathroom.
My statistic supervisor has just resigned. I need to find a new one.
How do I do this multiple regression analysis on my research?
What? The case reports are due in now????
New shoes for the boths of you? Didn't we just buy new ones a few months ago?
Books....the text books given by the school looks like goat food....where can I buy them new text books? The shops don't sell them anymore.


I woke up from my plethora of mixed thoughts.....

Oh crikey! There goes the expected year end half month bonus. I need a new front grill, the front bumper needs paneling and I'm hoping the radiator isn't leaking. The Proton Saga I fended was not damaged. Thank goodness...and a bit of a miracle....otherwise that would have been another worry. And no one was injured. Not seriously anyway. Except for this ringing sound in my ear, which I've mistaken for the phone twice this evening, I think I am not damaged.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Self reminder

I looked in the mirror, saw the reflection of a tired, weary faced, blood-shot eyed and aged woman.

"Are you tired?" I asked.
The reflection nodded.
"So am I" I replied, in the hope to comfort.

I splashed some water over my face. Submission date is looming too close for comfort, and the research is no where near completion. I have 2 weeks to do this. Research Viva is in January. Only on approval of the research will I be allowed to sit the exams in May.

Its been a long journey! But, getting there..............almost there. Almost there!

I looked back at the reflection in the mirror and a smile appeared. All journey will eventually come to an end, and what we get will reflect our efforts, doas from all and most importantly, the rezeki Allah has set aside for us.

"Remember"....I reminded myself. "Remember why you are doing this. You had this discussion with him over 5 years ago. You have 2 children that depends on your success. Bills bills bills....and most importantly, this is your passion, this is what you do best in, and you can make a difference on things that you found were deficient during his care. Pahala....masya'Allah! The many lives you have changed and will change. This is your investment for the afterlife. Go and do it!"

Ok! OK! I remember!

Lets get back to this research! Go Go Go!!!! Its all Go from now.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Birthday Doas

It's his 38th birthday. I had to work today. We got up in the morning, had a bit of french toast and baked beans and I drove to work.

I came home in the afternoon, had tea with the kids and later dinner. The usual remote control squabbles ended the evening.

Its another day ended.

"We didn't go to ayah's grave Umi." said my little girl.

"No sayang. Umi had to work, remember?"

"Remember when she wanted to bring the cake and have ayah's birthday party at the cemetery Umi?" teased her older brother, as he pointed and laughed at his younger sister.

"I can't remember that!" cried my princess.

"You were such a little girl Darling. You were only 4." I replied.

"I didn't get to spend much time with Ayah, and now, I can't remember much of it." she sulked.

"It's ok. The important thing is that you should remember Ayah in your daily doas. And what ever good you both do, Ayah will get the pahala. And that will be your gifts for him, every single day of your life. Isn't that wonderful?" I asked.

The kids pondered on it for a few minutes, until the remote control issue came up again......

Its another day ended.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

16 Syawal

At exactly 10.25am, 16th Syawal, 5 years ago, I leaned beside him, whispering the kalimah in his ears. I whispered words of love, and how proud we were of him. And though we will miss him very much, I didn't want him to suffer any longer. I said my good-byes and kissed him, as I felt his cheeks still warm and soft. He stopped breathing and I let out a sigh of relief for him. Ya-Allah, he has returned to you. Please forgive his sins and place him amongst those whom you have bestowed your Grace.

The memory is so clear, it could have just happened yesterday. Yet, it felt almost foreign, like a scene from a movie. Am I detaching myself from the past? I do not know.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy Eid

5th Eid without him, and you would think I have gotten used to it. Not....maybe never. It's not logical, if you think about it, that such an eventful day can go by without feeling the sadness of his absence. Even on days where there is no special event, he is always in my heart and prayers.

I sat there, watching our children play and laugh with their cousins. The boys, all approaching their teenage hood, no longer run and jump with their younger siblings. They sit and chat and laugh about God knows what while playing with their Uncle's X-Box. The younger ones are drenched in sweat while they run around, playing a game that almost appears to have an aim, laughing and shouting. The toddlers watch in envy as they try to catch up. This is what it's all about, isn't it? Family gatherings and celebrating with loved ones while we are still here.

By the end of the day, I felt warned out and needed my quiet time, as I head home. I haven't been able to sleep at my parents house in years. I hate the house, as it reminds me of his illness. He was trapped there for many months and the room he stayed in was a prison to us. I am grateful that we had a place to stay during the phase of his illness, but its too painful to stay there. The smell of the 'library' cum our living quarters is unbearable.

The kids didn't want to come back with me that night. Its ok. They gave me hugs and I drove home in quietness.

5th Eid without him, I have learnt to wear my bracelet on my own. This year, it didn't drop to the floor like it did the previous 4 years.

Happy Eid to all.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The visit

He came and visited us yesterday, in our dreams. All three of us had wonderful dreams of happiness.

I was walking home from work, up the hills in Brighton. The sun was in my face, and I could see the bay window of our cottage. (It wasn't really the cottage we lived in, but it was a gorgeous little cottage near the cul-de-sac. I always imagined us living there....). The curtains were drawn open, and I could see him in the front living area reading the papers. My heart skipped a beat, before it went into a little rhythm of excitable arrythmias. It was him. It was truly him, and I missed him so much that day.

I hastened my pace to reach home faster and as he turned the pages of the paper, he caught me walking up the hill towards the front door from the corner of his eyes. He folded the paper and gave me a smile. I saw him getting up to open the door, but I got there first and ran into the living room to give him the biggest hug ever.

He hugged me back, and it felt wonderful. He was his strong self again, before the lymphoma, before the chemo, before the bone marrow transplant, before the graft rejection, before the lung failure........

I stood back for just a second to get a good look at him again. He was in his favourite khaki coloured trousers and dark shirt. He smiled and pulled me up for a second hug.

Then he whispered in my ears, "Anything you want. You can have anything you want."

Then I woke up. I was back in my room. I closed my eyes again, just to grab that sensation of his presence again. It was lovely. What a beautiful dream.

Thank you Abang, for visiting. We say prayers for you everday. We are doing ok insya'Allah. We hope you resting peacefully in Allah's protection. Come again soon, ok?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary

"Hellooooo" said the familiar voice.

"Hello" I replied.

"How is my wife to be?" He had that cheeky tone in his voice. It was early, but we were already up. I don't think I slept much that night. The "hantarans" took a bit longer than expected. I hope the make-up lady can get rid of the bags underneath my eyes with her magic kit.

"hahaha..." I laughed back.

Its been a long wait. Almost 6 years, and we have been very patient. I was excited, scared, happy and lots of other things I cannot mention on this blog......

"Everything ready?" I asked him.

"Yes, all ready to go."

"Ok then, I'll see you here this evening!"

The akad went well. Dad's very traditional about things. He hired some traditional malay group that played the kompang and gong that night. So, while we had the bersanding, the music played in the background. It was very nice.

The actual invites were not till tomorrow, so eventhough we were officially husband and wife, dad insisted he go home....WHAT? Wait some more? But, we obliged, and he went home.

Sorry for making you wait. I am even more sorry that we didn't get to spend more time together. I was only respecting my parents wishes. They wish alot....and can be quite demanding at it too. Sometimes, parents think they are doing the best for us. If we got married during college, would we have done as well as we did? I believe we could have, as you were my motivator and my teacher and you were just plain smart, caring and loving. How could we have not done better? I'm sorry again sayang. We wasted 6 years.....6 very precious years.

And now, here I am again. Respecting my parents wishes.

To my love, happy 12th year anniversary. We are surviving. Kids are growing well. They are smart little ones, and I pray that they will succeed here on earth and also in the afterlife. I hope they will pray and love us as much as we do for them.

And you, I will definitely see you later. We just have to wait a little while longer.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Getaway

Finally, we were on our mini break, the first we've had in over a year. Just the 3 of us. This was also the first break in Malaysia without Abang, and other family members. Since he passed away, we've never been away on our own for holidays in Malaysia. (Going home to his mum's don't count though.)

So, I decided to do baby steps first. Somewhere close. We were all quite apprehensive about it, surprisingly. Then again, this is the first drive away that we've had since I've been ill.

It was a success. We had a 'quiet' time, taking into consideration it was the school holidays. I had my sips of coffee and snooze on the balcony with the sound of the rolling waves, and the nice sea breeze in my face. I felt lullabied into a sense of ease. It was a much needed break.

Thank you for giving me the gift of still being able to enjoy the beauties of your Earth. Thank you for giving me that sense of calmness.

Overwhelmed by it all, I broke down into tears once we got home. Tears of joy, I think. I now know that we can do it, and it's going to be just the three of us for a wee while longer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

the simple things in life

Today is the last day of my 7 day stretch of passive call. 5 more days of work before I get some time off. I decided to just sit still this afternoon and enjoy some sun and breeze. It was amazing!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another one of those whiney blogs....

Not unexpectedly, both children came down with chickenpox. So, there we were, 3 spotty, itchy, grumpy people, cooped in the house. What a sight.....what a week. As I got better, the kids got worst. Which meant no rest for me (again).

It hasn't been an easy start to the new academic year for me. But, apparently, thats the trend with me. Nothing comes easy, but when I do reach the final destination, the reward is overwhelmingly worth it. I cannot wait for that day. I pray to Allah that I am kept strong to pursue this dream. My husband had encouraged me to continue my studies, and thats what I am doing.

It is during these few hard days (which comes in many these days) that emotions become less rational, and tears become more available. It is during these times that vulnerabilities makes me make stupid and hasty decisions. Makes me say silly things, which I will undoubtedly regret later. It is times when the mind starts to cloud with negativity that I spiral into a sense of helplessness. Its quite a dark fall. I feel nauseated.

It is also these times when I wish back for the stability and happiness that I once had. But that is just wishing for the impossible. It is also a reflection of ungratefulness. That is scary. I don't want not to be grateful. These are the times when I miss him most.

Move to keep moving on. Life is just so temporary. I keep telling myself. Get a grip! Remember, the afterlife is my destiny, and what we make of this life will determine our eternity. Its all good.

Confused? I certainly am. I am a bouncing bipolar manic depressive (skewed more to the depressive end)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A natural break

A month back at work, and I was feeling the strain of the workload, decision makings and emotional turmoil associated with the field of work I choose to be in.

"Please doctor, make her better. She has 2 little girls at home" pleaded her husband. His wife was so severely head injured after the accident, she most likely will never come out of her minimally conscious state. She will need long term nursing care. How do you break that to her husband, who was pleading for her recovery?

The next few weeks continued with more stress at work. Each day became harder. Yesterday's tiredness didn't go away with the night's rest, and energy level for the next day became less and less. I wasn't coping. I needed a break. But because there were always a shortage of doctors, leaves were a luxury, and often, service was a priority. But Allah knew best......

I came down with chickenpox.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Faith is a powerful thing to have. It gives me the strength to move on. Knowledge, information, common sense helps us find reasons of why, how, when and what. Information to help give the perception of understanding. However, there are a few things that aren't meant to be understood yet, beyond the comprehension of the weak human being, as Allah knows best. This understanding is kept from us for the time being, until He says it is time for us to comprehend. In the meantime, we search. We may find some of the answers. We may not. It surely does not mean the answers are not there. Thats where faith kicks in for me.

Faith is my foundation, and that makes me believe.
Faith is not something that can be taught, or passed from generation to generation.
Faith cannot be seen and easily explained.
Faith is something from within you. A part of you.
Faith is how I live my life.

I pray to Allah that my faith to Him stands strong, that no one can budge me from my foundations. I pray to Allah to protect me from wrong doings, as I am humble and weak. I cannot ask from any other than Allah to help me.

I thank the Almighty that He has given me the strength and faith needed to keep me strong, to have kept me sane in enduring life's little tests, as life on earth is so mere temporary.

I pray for all my loved ones that they too are kept in Allah's loving grace, and have the faith and believe as I do, if not more.


Sunday, June 29, 2008


"What does cancel mean Umi?" asked my little butterfly.

"Cancel?" I asked her back, for confirmation.

"Yes, what does it mean?" she asked again. What an odd question to ask. Cancel.....hmmm. They like to ask me all sorts of questions. This is nothing more than the usual (or the usual unusuals).

"Lets see...." as I searched my head for the right words an 8 year old would understand.

"Cancel is like when you had planned something, and then changed your mind. Whatever you had planned didn't happen. So, it was canceled."

I looked at her, hoping to see signs of understanding in her facial expression. Unfortunately, I only saw her forehead wrinkling further and her lips pouting. It was her confused face.

I sighed and tried again.

"Cancel is a word that tells you that what was supposed to happen didn't happen"....that was worst than the first explanation.

She looked at me, then said, "Is that why ayah was canceled".

I was baffled. What ever gave her the idea that her dad was canceled.

"Why do you say that sayang?" I asked her back.

"I heard you saying that ayah was sick and had cancel. Thats why he died." she replied, so innocently naive.

"Oh, sayang. No, no. no. Ayah didn't have cancel. He had cancer." I said.

"What's cancer then?" she asked.

I explained to her about cancer, as simple as I could. And she nodded with understanding. Satisfied with my explanation, she continued with her drawing.


It does feel like that sometimes.

The Great Whiner

Nobody likes a whiner. I thought I was expressing my feelings, fears, hopes and anxiety to someone that cared. I guess I was wrong. Eventually, we do hit the limits. Well, I'll have to put on that famous mask again then. The smiles, the "I have no care in the world" and "I am so strong, nobody can pull me down" faces again. You learn with time who to turn to, and who not to turn to. But like I said, nobody likes a whiner.
I am glad I have faith. HE, the Almighty will always listen to me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Afternoon Drive....5 years on.

Its been 4 weeks now that I have restarted work, trying to regain some normality and routine back into my life. Energy is far from ample. I am afraid to expect anything now, in view of avoiding disappointment.

But this afternoon, I had a bit of energy and we went out for a drive. We haven't been out for a drive since coming back from Dublin. Its been almost a year. Most of the time, its driving with a mission (to get milk, or bread), but this afternoon, it was meant to be a leisure drive, aimless, careless. We wanted to enjoy the afternoon breeze and the soft sun, after the day had been cooled by rain earlier.

It started off nice. Then the air-conditioning decided that it has had enough. It wasn't too bad. We rolled down the window and continued to drive. The breeze was nice. Driving straight on, we came to a dead stop. Traffic. TRAFFIC! Traffic on a saturday afternoon. They had rearranged the route of the main road leading into the town center, and somebody in the town planning council thought they had come up with a good plan. Wrong.

We stayed in the jam for about 30 minutes before turning back at the nearest u-turn, drenched with sweat, we continued on with the drive, this time heading back home.

We passed by the old neighbourhood where we had rented our last house together.

"Oh Umi! Can we go and see the house again? Please?" cried the children.

I agreed, and we turned in. There was also a car accessory and air-conditioning shop near by. So, I stopped there for them to have a look at the car.

"Ah, hello doctor! Nice to see you again." said the mechanic. "New car? Sold the Wira?" Crikey, not only did he remember me, he also remembered the car I drove.

"Yes. You look busy. Business must be very good"

"Ya-lor. Can eat one-lah."

I explained about the air-conditioning predicaments. He knew exactly what was wrong with it. But because the car was still under warranty, he asked me to bring it back to the dealer's authorised workshop. He gave a few details of a good authorised dealer. I said my thanks and left.

We drove to the back of the shop lots where we had rented the house nearly 5 years ago.

"Which one is it?" asked my little princess. She was only 3 when we left, and we hadn't been back here for over 2 years.

"Its that one" replied her older brother. He remembers the place well. He has a good memory for emotional and eventful episodes.

We stopped the car and looked at the house in silence for a few minutes.

It looked sad and shabby. The trees I had planted were larger now, but looked old and unhealthy. Half the leaves were gone. The grass was overgrown and the place looked unloved by its new occupants. The mailbox we had bought, which their dad had tied onto the front gate was broken. It was all very sad.

"Who lives there now Umi?"

"I think its the owner's younger brother and his family. I am not sure"

"Can we go in and have a look?"

"No. Its not our house anymore. We don't want to disturb the people who live there now." I replied.

We had a few more minutes just sitting in the car looking at the house, until the children were satisfied.

"OK everyone? Shall we go?"

The kids agreed, and we left. I saw them look back as we drove away. Tears started to collect in my lower lids. But, I am now an expert of arresting this process. The tears never came out rolling down my cheeks.

On the way home, there was a stall selling durian. This was the place where we had always bought durian. It was a difficult place to revisit, because just before their dad was admitted to hospital for the last time, he had wanted some durians. I had brought a plastic container with me the evening before his admission so the man who sold the durian could actually cut it out for us. I am lousy with opening durians. But driving home that evening, I had forgotten, and drove straight home.

"Durian? Have you got the durian?" He asked me when I got home.

"Oh, I am sorry abang. I forgot. I'll get it tomorrow."

That tomorrow never came.

"Can we have some durians Umi?" asked the kids. I stopped the car at our usual stall. We got out and was greeted by his wife.

"Lah....lama tak jumpa" (Haven't seen you in a while) said the lady, as we exchanged salams. Crikey, she remembered me too.

"Give me the best durians". I requested. Her husband quickly took out the D-25s and U-something arather and U shishkebobs.....they were types of durian, which I have little knowledge of (as you can see.) Her husband opened a bit and asked me to try it. Yes, yummy stuff. He asked me where my plastic container was so he could open them the way he did 5 years ago.......I told him this was an unplanned visit. So, we took home the durians whole.

We drove back. All sweaty and smelling like durian.

"Thank you Umi. That was fun" my son said to me when we got out of the car. My little girl skipped out with joy.

Bless them. I am happy that little things like this, which may not be apparently significantly exciting to the average child, is much appreciated by mine. I hope they keep this attitude about life as a whole.

As I was about to enter the house, I stalled. 5 years on. I looked at the house that we had bought together.

"This is a good house for you and the kids" He told me, as he sat on the unfinished stairs. The house was 90% completed.

"It'll be good for all of us." I corrected him.

"Don't worry. My new house won't be far away" He replied back with a grin.

"Enough with the nonsense." I snapped back at him.

He never did got the chance to move in. That is in a way a blessing in disguise. We were able to move into a new house without the painful memories of him sitting, walking and resting in his favourite spots.

I gave a sigh, and walked in.

5 years on....... It doesn't get easier. But we do adapt. The lonliness doesn't get less. But we do fill up the empty gaps to compensate. The sadness and tears will never go away, but we are now better at holding them back. People see us as "better", because THEY have forgotten the pain. But I am glad about one thing that will never change. And that is the love.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is this what I have become?

Sometimes, life's predicaments pushes us into a corner. There is no way out, but to push back these predicaments. The things I have had to do may not be of things I want to do, but of mere need. I need to do it, to survive. 2 little beings depend on me now, and if I do not succeed, the repercussion of failure will be endless. Call me selfish if you want, but when we have no space to give and take, the choices left are little. There are no more sacrifices I can make. I have hit hard bottom. I cannot budge. Its either my way, or my way. And if some cannot accept the situation that I am in now that has led me to this corner, then you should just let me be. I cannot afford to loose anymore. There is just too little left. They are my gems. My heart beats for them, and I will guard my treasures with my life. I am always on high alert, defensive, and prepared.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Signs of Prosperity

Today I went out for lunch on a girlie outing with one of my best friends. Its been nearly 2 years since I've been out on an outing with my galfriends without the kids.

All excited, I got ready for my little outing. Took my jeans out from the drawer, slipped my legs through and pulled it up.

It got stuck. Must have shrunk in the wash.

Maybe if I did a quick jump and a simultaneous pulled up, gravity will aid me.

I left the house wearing a pair of 'baju kurung'.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Living within the rules of social taboo?

Someone told me that I should be more careful and tactful by my ways. I am a widow now. It was just a reminder.


I think you have been watching too much RTM afternoon Malay dramas (the re-runs).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Return to Wellness

Its been a year long illness, and today, I am officially off medication. This experience has been painful not only for me, but most of all to my beautiful children who took good care of me. Come June, I will be working full time again, and isya'Allah, I have learnt to pace myself. (but knowing me.....maybe not) But I realise now that a sick mummy is no good to anyone. In fact, I have in a way taken away a year of joy from my kids. There were days when I was so unwell, my son would tuck me in to sleep, close the drapes, switch on the air conditioner and mosquito pad thingy (ubat nyamuk)....Then, he would tip-toe out of the room after kissing me good night. Aww my poor baby has been forced to grow up so quickly. He has taken on the role as the man of the house with flying colours, and I am so proud of him.

Never the less, any experience must be good somehow. I can say, in my 36 years of life, God has given me the richness of experiences. I have experienced love and loss, I've been a wife and now a widow, I have experienced pregnancies and childbirth, I have experienced living, studying and working in many parts of the world, I have experienced illness and the woes of being a patient, I have experienced being a carer to a terminally ill spouse, I am experiencing life as a single parent and now, I am experiencing the joy of returning to health, much taken for granted by many. I must say, I have definitely taken the more scenic route, the longer winded roads and far more riskier paths, and so far, and I do not plan to stop. Life is to be experienced with guidance from the Almighty.

I hope, God willing, with these experiences, it will make me a better person, a better mother, a better daughter, a better sister, a better auntie, a better doctor and a better friend.

Short Term Plan: this weekend we are going BOWLING! Whoo-hooo!
Long Term Plan: The sky is the limit.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Just a story

It had just passed 7pm when I arrived home from work, and my bladder was bursting! As soon as I walked through the front door, I was greeted by my husband with "Air kosong ais", which in translation means Iced water.

He had this extreme need of having iced water. It wasn't just cold chilled water from the fridge, it had to be extremely cold iced water. He once said the chemotherapy felt like a burning sensation and that made him burn inside. Iced water had always helped.

"Hi Abang. What a day!" I said as I sighed.

"Air kosong ais" he replied, trying to hide his cheeky grin.

"I really need the loo." I replied. His iced water needed special preparation, as he liked the ice to be crushed in the chilled water, and with a bladder so full like mine, it wasn't a good idea to do it there and then.

"Air kosong ais" I heard him say again.

We didn't have a toilet downstairs, so I ran up the stairs to our bathroom. Got to the toilet and enjoyed the bliss of release.....ahhhhhh. Sat on the toilet for a few moment, as I find it quite relaxing and therapeutic. I get most of my best ideas while on the toilet....but thats another blog in its entirety.

Anyway, as I was enjoying the tranquility of my pink toilet, I heard the phone ringing downstairs. Then, a little voice outside my toilet door called for me.

"Umi, phone" said my 5 year old.

"Umi is in the toilet, can you ask then to call back?" and I heard little feet run down the stairs.
2 seconds later, the little feet was back up and knocking on my bathroom door again.

"Umi, dia kata emejensi" said my son again.

Emergency? This must be important. I quickly washed what was needed to be washed and ran downstairs.

"Hello?" as I picked up the phone.

"Air kosong ais" said a familiar voice on the other line.

I turned around and saw my husband sitting on the chair with his mobile to his ear, but this time, he couldn't hide the cheeky smile.
I put the phone down and gave him 'the look'. We exchanged a few friendly slaps and I surrendered to his demands.

Then I went to the kitchen to make him his air kosong ais.

Till today, this is one of the favourite stories my children love to hear. They would crack up laughing each time. Umi was dooped....yes, yes, very funny, as I laughed with them too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tagged! I'm it!

8 Random facts about me......(tagged by myheartbleeds)

1. I can't swim.

2. I can't cook.

3. When I study, I have to have all my references sprawled on the floor for easy access.

5. I like to sing and make up my own mini songs on the guitar.

6. I enjoy playing games with my children.

7. My friends at work don't get my jokes, but that doesn't stop me from telling them. I enjoy the confused expressions on their faces and their polite laughs, which makes me laugh even more.

8. As a result of no.7, I laugh at my own jokes......

Friday, May 2, 2008

Widow woes

Car problems (again) and this time it had to be towed to the garage. I was on my way to the hospital for my appointment and was feeling groggy as usual. Now, I was also causing a massive jam for morning travelers rushing to work. Luckily I was on the left lane, and managed to 'guide' the car to the left, off the road. The engine had died all together.

Who do I call? What do I do? My head was a bit light-headed from the morning heat, and side effects of the medication I was taking. Luckily, the car was still under waranty and I called up the road side help line provided by the car insurance. Gave the details of my whereabouts and the tow truck arrived 45 minutes later......phew!

Got to the garage, all sweaty and red. Greeted by my mechanics, who knew me well, since we have been coming here since 2001.
"Ei? New car kaput already?" smiled the senior mechanic. Yes yes yes, rub it in.
I gave him the keys, quick run down of what had happened, and he immediately knew what the problem was. This model was infamous for that problem apparently.
Then I plomped myself in the refreshing air-conditioned waiting room while I read some journals I had brought with me.
"oh, what can I say. If she wants to wear a tudung, she should wear it correctly" said a voice. I looked up from my journal as a lady showed me the tabloid she was reading. It was a picture of Siti Nurhaliza in some function with a drape hanging on her head and shoulders bared with a short sleeved top. "Artist" gossip never interest me. I smiled at her and continued my reading. But, apparently she wanted to have a conversation with me as she waited for her car to get fixed. "its totally her choice. If she doesn't want to wear it, then don't" she continued.
"yes" I said.
"I mean, respect those that are wearing tudung by not mocking it. She is an idol here, and what she wears will be followed by many younger girls". This lady was determined to say her mind, so I let her.
"I agree" I replied.....I was a bit tired from the morning events to dwell on siti's hair attire.
"I have 2 grown up daughters, both went to Chinese schools. The eldest is finishing her degree and the 2nd is about to enter university now."
"Excellent." I said. This topic interested me more than talking about Siti.
"Yes, it was tough for the girls to attend a Chinese stream school, but we found that the discipline was a lot better and they have done well. My two sons couldn't handle it though and left after completing primary school. They are now in Kebangsaan schools."
"How are they doing?" I asked.
"I think its just boys' nature not to be too interested in school, but they are clever boys, and are doing well. Just can't get them to organise themselves well to be disciplined enough to drive themselves. I have to tell them what to do everyday."
I smiled as I listened on to her woes.
"Its harder for me, you see." She continued. "My husband passed away 6 years ago, and I had to raise the 4 children on my own".
I looked at her with empathy.
"Oh, but you wouldn't understand. You would have to go through it yourself to fully understand how hard it is. It was hard." She kept on going. "My husband died of throat cancer. He suffered 10 months before he passed on."
I was speechless.
"I felt my world had ended. The children needed me, and I was the only one there for them. I didn't know what to do then." She said as she shook her head.
All I could do was look at her and gave her a smile, trying to tell her that I did know what she went through, as I too went and still is going through the same experiences. But I couldn't say anything to her. I was not willing to share that part of my past with her, as willing as she was with me.
"Anyway" she said, "The kids have grown up now, and my youngest is in form 1 and the eldest is about to graduate. So, I guess we did survive".
"Yes" I smiled back at her and nodded my head.
Suddenly, a man opened the door and poked his head into the waiting room.
"Have you seen my wallet?" He asked. I recognised the man as the one that was sleeping on the other couch earlier.
"You may have dropped it while you were sleeping on that chair earlier Abang" said the lady. The man looked for it in between the cushions but couldn't find it.
"Did you bring it at all when we left the house Bang?" she asked him. The man just shook his head and left to look outside the garage.
"My husband always misplaces things. I think its all age related" said the lady.
I smiled in acknowledgment.
She then left the waiting area to help her husband look for the missing wallet.

A few things crossed my mind later that day. Why was I not willing to tell her that I too had gone through those same experiences? And why was I surprised when I found out that she had remarried?

Again, my unwillingness to share my past experieneces with this lady is the reason why I am writing my feelings down in this blog. I am not ready to 'expose' myself. I feel vulnerable when people can see my weaknesses, know what's going on in my head, what i am feeling in my heart.....I am not the "Petite n Powerful" I set out myself to be. Its more of "Petite n Pathetic". Hence, the anonymity. If people know who I am, I may not be able to write this. This is my venting space, as I have lost the person who could hear me out, tolerate my detailed stories of the daily on goings, tolerate my mood swings and not question my oddities. So, for those who may have figured out who I am, keep it to yourself (for now, until I am ready).

Remarrying. I am happy that she had found another partner in life. Was her expressing her woes a way of telling me that she wasn't coping and justifying her needs to remarry? I don't know. But, we shouldn't need to justify our actions, when it comes to decisions like marriage. If 'jodoh' is there, then don't fight it. Nobody should question us as adults making these decisions. I am sure that she had thoroughly thought things through, her needs, her children's needs, her happiness, her wants and desires. I remind myself that loosing a spouse doesn't mean that our lives have stopped. We are still very much alive. And living alone for the rest of our lives is a scary and morbid thought. What normally sane person would want to wish that for themselves?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wisdom through Cause and Effect

It used to anger me when people said that "at least you had a chance to take care of him. Sudden deaths are a lot worst for those who are left behind." WHAT? And that comment was supposed to make me feel better? A loss is a loss at the end of the day, regardless whether it was sudden or through long illness. Tell me how looking after a person I love so much in his 4 years of illness makes it any better when he died? The rocky road of 'recoveries' and setbacks. He was getting better, then he wasn't....He overcame the acute infection, only to have complications from drug reactions etc.....and this journey towards his death was all supposed to make it better? It didn't make sense. I felt like yelling at the people who made those comments...and there were many!

But that was me going through the "anger" stage of mourning my loss. On acceptance now, I look back in a different light. It was a journey, a journey much cherished. It did prepare me, and I felt I had done all I can. We both did. There will be the occasion of "if only I had noticed that earlier, he might not have deteriorated so much". But as Allah had decided, even before we were born, the specific day, place and time of our death exact to the second. There should not be any regrets.

I digress....

Anyway, there is always the Hikmah of sudden death and that following chronic illness. In sudden death, there would not have been any hardship associated with loss of health, disability and painfully watching oneself/loved ones deteriorate by the day. That's a hikmah. In death following chronic illness, you get the opportunity to reflect, repent and learn to grow closer through hardship. That too is a hikmah.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Motherly instinct

As a mother and (was) a wife, my instincts tell me to protect the people I love, to make sure they don't get hurt physically or emotionally. I'd die for the people I truely love. I'd do anything for them, even if it means putting my own self interests and happiness aside. Today, I did something in my mind was to protect. I said a lie. Is that right? I have learnt today that any lie, whether it white or not, is never good. It ended up hurting the people I initially intended to protect. I am sorry.


The walls leading upstairs are filled with framed pictures I have put up of family, especially of my late hubby. Dating pictures, wedding, vacations, him with then the babies and just day by day stuff we used to do but were caught on that 'kodak moment'. It felt just like yesterday it all happened, but at the same time an eternity away.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Makcik oh makcik (translated Aunty oh aunty)

36 years old on Saturday. Alhamdulillah.
I forget sometimes that I am approaching 40 soon. I don't feel any different from how I was 10 years ago. I guess that must be good. The occasional gray hair (but I've always had a bit since I was a teenager.....I put it down to too much studying....) and the wee wrinkles I call smile lines and lines of wisdom. Nothing too worrying. I also have this 'babyface'......chubby and round, and being only 4 foot 10 does add to the effects of 'youngness'. I even got away as being a university undergrad student while I was at the mechanics a few weeks ago.....But I have days like the one I'm about to tell to remind me of my age......
Once upon an afternoon, as I sat on my swing with my daughter, enjoying the late afternoon sun and the light soothing breeze, my relaxing moment was disturbed by a rolling white object that came to a rest near my feet. It was a football. The neighbourhood boys were playing football in the field behind my house, and one extra enthusiastic boy had kicked it over the wired fence into the compound.
The boys, young teenagers, looked my way and waited for me to respond. Oh, ok. I guess they wanted their ball back. I picked it up contemplating whether I should kick it over the fence or throw it back at them. Since these boys are my son's friends, I thought I'd do the motherly thing and not kick it. I threw it over and the boys thanked me.
"Thank-you MAKCIK!"......ei? You talking to me?
"That's Makcik-ster United to you!"* I thought..... I suddenly felt 20 years older.......

*with special thanks to Aquamatt for making this story possible.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Unselfish love

People had asked me why I had brought him to hospital and not stayed home knowing that it would be his last few days. Would he not have been more comfortable at home? I wondered and pondered about this myself. Thinking back, it was a request from him, and I am glad he had made most of the decisions about his own end-of-life issues, though we did discuss them. He was a sharp man, knew exactly what he wanted, and knew exactly what I needed. I had been nursing / doctoring him at home for the past 3 weeks with intravenous antibiotics and fluids. We knew what the signs were, and it was worsening. I used to wake up many times in the night, checking to see if he was breathing, as I laid my hands softly on his chest and felt it move as he inhaled and exhaled. Family was always close by, but he was the type of person that did not want to trouble anyone, me included. When he saw that I was becoming quite warn out, he called for help. My sister and brother in law drove us to the hospital. Though I have come to 'hate' the hospital at that stage, it was still our comfort zone. We had spent many of our earlier years working, sleeping, eating, growing and basically living in this institution as working doctors. This was our safe haven, amongst collegues and friends that could share the burden of decision making and care. Amongst people that understood the illness in depth as we did. And so, I knew that my late husband had made that decision for me more than for himself, his unselfishness in caring for me was his priority, even at the end.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


By a turn of fate, I am currently working in the same exact hospital where I had spent many months traveling back and forth with him for his chemotherapy, blood checks, follow ups and the bone marrow transplant. I've been working here for the past 4 years now. My first day there was just a mere 6 months after his passing, and walking into those same front doors with so many painful memories was agonizing. I used to have to stop just before approaching the front doors, take a deep breath, give out a long sigh and recompose myself. Then I walked in, with my heart beat thumping in my ears, and a lump in my throat. I would pass a row of seats at the front door, where patients used to sit, waiting for whom ever is to pick them up arrived at the "pick up/drop off" drive through. Many were bald, had masks on indicating they were immunocompromised and needed extra precautions. One particular patient used to sit regularly at HIS seat, and sat there with the same body composure as HIM, slightly slouched and legs crossed. Each morning I saw this patient, it would trigger off so many memories, that at times I get startled thinking that it was HIM. But no, it was another battling the same ordeal. On some occasions, I may have stared too long at this person, that he notices that someone is looking at him. Initially, I would quickly look away, so not to give him the impression that I was looking. Its rude to stare.....
Many weeks went on like this. The hospital was large, and I worked in a different section from where my late hubby had received his treatment. But on occasions, I would have to go into the same wards as where we spent many nights together, me on the foldable chair, and him imprisoned in the ward. There were even times where I had to go back to the same bed where HE had passed on. "Be strong. Be strong" I kept telling myself. I did crumble the first time I went back to Bed 33 on ward U11. I had understanding collegues who took over.....but I couldn't keep crumbling everytime I was called to that ward. The next time, I did it. It wasn't as tough as I thought it would be. The nurses and staff there all recognised me, and asked how I was. The place looked a lot different too from those last 5 nights when I had spent near Bed 33. It was the High Dependency ward and had 4 beds in that cubicle. It looked a lot smaller than when I remembered it to be. It looked crowded and uncomfortable. But from what I recall 6 months ago, as I spent the last 5 nights with him there, the cubicle was very spacious. I was at ease and so was he.
The last night there, as HE was drifting in and out, mumbling words, and hearing him say the Syahadah in between his dhikr and reliving past memories, I had stayed by his side as much as possible. We were reciting the quran close to him, to give him guidance for the final journey. I heard him call my name asking for a hug. It was a very quick hug yet the most meaningful. It was also the last hug he gave me, and he quickly pushed me away. That gesture told me it was going to be soon.
Morning did come for us, and it was a very long night. He wanted a hair cut and asked me to cut his nails. I told him I'll do the nails, but the hair cut might be a bit too challenging, as I smiled at him. Unfortunately, I didn't even get to finish his nails when his breathing suddenly became shallow. The Consultant was there with us doing her rounds as I was whispering the Shahadah in his ears. She asked me if I wanted any form of active resuscitation. I shook my head and she understood. She left us for our last moments together. I whispered again in his ears to tell him how much we love him, and that we will miss him. But, we will see each other again later, as our bond will never be broken. I heard him say our little girl's name. I hope that the angels have come for him in the form of our daughter, a familiar figure he loves so much, so that he will not be afraid to follow.
He passed away peacefully with me cradling him. Surprisingly, I felt a tremendous sense of relief for him. His fight and suffering had finished and he will be resting in peace now, God willing. I also felt a relief for me, not because caring for him was a burden, but now, I no longer have to see him suffer.
4 and a half years on, I now walk into those same front doors with more strength than ever. I see the same patients sitting there, but this time, I do make eye contact and smile at them. I walk down the same corridors we used to walk along, remembering. But now, it is a memory of how much we love each other and the journey we shared.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Final wishes

We had a talk a week before he passed on. He told me he won't make it to the new year. He might not even make it to the end of next week. I looked at him, all teary, but I nodded. This wasn't us giving up. It was us discussing on how we should move on. POA- Plan of Attack. He loved waking up in the mornings and asked me, "Whats the POA for today?"
Both of us being doctors knew exactly what was going on....and we knew too much. Ignorance can be a bliss, a luxury we didn't have.
I've lived this episode many many times with my patients. This would be the time where you would tell the spouse to start preparing. We were staying in our rented house at that time, and our two young children sensed that something was a miss. They became very restless and it affected him. It affected both of us. So, with saddened eyes, he said he needed some quiet time to rest and requested the children be sent to my mum's house. People say that when one is about to leave this earth, they would want the most precious to be away from them so that they can leave peacefully, without hesitation....without the love of his children holding him back.
So, the POA was for the children to go to my parents. He asked for his mother to come over. I called, but she was not well, and couldn't make the long trip by bus on her own. She had to wait for the weekend when one of his sibblings could come over and pick her up.
Next POA was about resuscitation. Don't.
Next was about funeral arrangements. He didn't want to travel far from us, back to his hometown. He wanted to be buried in the cemetery that was just 2 minutes away, so that everytime we passed by his new home, we would say hello and say a prayer for him.
On the day of the funeral, he wanted his mother's well being looked into. Make sure she has a comfortable place to sleep that night and her meals are taken care of.
He wanted the children be explained about his passing, and to attend the burial. He wanted his brothers to send him to his final resting place. Even the one that he didn't get along with....
Then last, but not least, he wanted me to continue living, get on with my career, which we had to put on hold for a couple of years, be happy and look after our children. He wanted me to marry again. But I had to promise him that whom ever I chose must not only make me happy, but make our children happy too.
I sat there quiet, but I nodded.
Then he apologised for having to leave so soon.
Sayang, I've done everything on our POA list. (Except the last bit).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My flowers

My birthday is coming up soon. 36 years old.....and it'll be my 5th birthday without him (at least physically), but always there in heart and soul. I remember my first birthday card I got from him. It was my 19th, such days of naivety and not a care in the world! He gave me fresh flowers too. But me, being this shy girl, quickly hid them away from people to see. A gesture he misunderstood as something I did not appreciate and disliked.On the contrary! He had made me so happy I was blushing. But I had broken his heart that day. We had talked about it, and I apologized. He said he understood, and the event was much forgotten....Until the night before he passed away. He was in a state of delirium, coming in and out of deep sleep. He had been whispering past events and appeared to be reliving moments in his life. Moments that were significant enough to trigger off memories. One of which were the flowers event back in 1991. I noticed in between the mumblings of incomprehensible words were "flowers" and "wilted" and it broke my heart that these were the things he was remembering in the last few hours of his life.
"I loved them" I whispered in his ears. "I loved them very much".

Monday, March 17, 2008

family ties

I was just looking back at my previous entry, and I sounded a bit harsh about family and friends helping out. In fairness, everybody has commitments, and everybody has their own set of worries and troubles, just in different forms. I wouldn't have gotten by without my family and friends, and the thought of having them around is just as good. My sister for example has 6 children, all under the age of 13, and my sister in law has 5, all under the age of 9! Crikey O'Malley! Talk about having a full plate! These two wonderful ladies, full time mothers and full time professionals are amazing people. I also have another sister who is just too far away to help me physically, but I am sure she send her prayers, which is just as important, as for what they pray for maybe the reason why God has made it tolerable for me. As for my 3 brothers....well, I have no explanation for their ignorance about the whole situation. It must be something in the Y-chromosome......

Saturday, March 15, 2008

a full plate

When do you decide that there is just too much going on, that you no longer can cope? Sometimes, I think its just pure laziness, and if I exert myself a bit more, I will be able to get it all done. Whats on my plate? I have two children, and as beautiful a gift they are from God, this morning I had to take away the ASTRO smart card. One is a football maniac, while the other isn't.....Conflicting interests results in intermittent changing of channels and wails of shouts and crying. I also have my Masters degree thesis to finish, case reports, medical reports to write, study for my final exams, and work full time. I also have a maid that can't differentiate dairy products from, dairy products go in the shelves under the sink while detergent can find their way into the fridge. Food shortages in the pantry is a never ending saga, something in the house breaks down on a daily basis and there is always the question of making ends meet with all the bills. Making sure the household and domestic affairs are looked into, taxes paid, lawn mowed and that I am not harvesting aedes mosquitoes in the backyard. Not to mention parents with never ending medical ailments, yet never wanting to listen to advice....Then, there is the love of my life who is so far away. How do I cope? How do I know that I am not coping? I took care of everybody, except myself. I became ill. It took a major illness for my body to tell me that 'enough is enough'! Yet, there is nothing on my plate that i can discard. Everything is essential.
Help from family and friends. Easy said, then actually done. Though I know everybody has the great intentions to help, its just not that easy. Call if you need me, they say. I am always here for you, they say. Tell us what you need, they ask. Don't worry about asking for help, they tell me. Yet, I am still alone, driving myself to the hospital for my blood tests and medical check ups. Yet, I drag my feet to the shops to buy groceries to feed my children. I have asked, but when I see how hard it is for them to deliver, I feel guilty. It even feels worst when siblings start to squabble over who should do it.....never mind, I'll do it myself.
I am grateful that God has given me the strength. I am strong. Strong willed to survive this test that He has given me. I have never been a quitter, and I will not be starting now. My late husband has taught me a great lesson in life, and his strength and will power flows in me today. This setback in health is temporary, God willing, and I will be back on my feet soon. Again, this is just another reminder from Allah to me, to make me a better person, and to forgive my previous sins.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


His lungs were failing him. It broke my heart when the physician said that it would be best he be put on home oxygen therapy. I nodded my head in agreement. He was getting tired, and even short sentences were an effort. I looked at him, head slumped in despair as the reality of it all kicks in. "Its ok" I told him. We will arrange something. We had a few options. Robust oxygen cylinders that need refilling every few days, or we could buy machines called oxygen concentrators. It would make him more mobile. Costs were an issue though, as the mobile ones costs RM18 000, and the larger home based ones were RM6 000. We wanted both, so at least he can still get out and about as the mobile ones had car extension leads to them. The disadvantage of these mobile ones were that it was pulse driven. He still had to make an effort to take a deep breath for the oxygen to be released from the machine. The bigger ones were continuous release.
RM24000.....that was half our life savings. He saw me hesitate when we were making that decision, one of the few things I regret till today. I wish I hadn't hesitated so much to buy it. He looked at me and said "You can sell it when I am gone". The words still echo in my ears.....
Material and money are replaceable. Though I spend wisely, because being a single mum with a single income is a challenge on its own these days, I will not hesitate to spend on my children. We never know when we will no longer be able to enjoy the nikmat that The Almighty has given us on this earth, as life here is so temporary.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Happy Ending

I am grateful that I had spent the last 4 years of our lives together as we did. In that 4 years, I had only spent 2 nights away from him (due to work). We were always together, and his illness has brought us closer than anyone could imagine. We were close to start off with. Our 6 year romance in College was a fairy tale of dramas. My parents you see, are very protective of me. Going abroad to University at 18 I suppose was something scary for any parent. But, I had an admirer when I got there. Even the thought of it makes me smile today. He was a well respected member of our Malaysian community, he was a very smart student, athletic and as a bonus, he could sing and play the guitar! People would come up to him when they needed advice about anything. And this guy liked me? I was this outsider that didn't come from their university take. I knew no one when I got there. He was very helpful....little did I know.
Our friendship blossomed, and he became my best friend. Summer vacations and being away from him was agonising! My parents at that stage did not allow boyfriends while studying! So, I couldn't share this wonderful part of my life with my family until 4 years later. Keeping secrets were always a part of it, and until now, I still can't talk about some of my deepest feelings with my family because that was how I was brought up. I make a conscious effort that I will not do the same with my children.
Everyday of our 7 year marriage is much cherrished. We have 2 beautiful children, who are so full of life that they keep me going. His spirits are always with us. We talk about him everyday. Sometimes, however, the kids want to hear something new about their daddy. I had run out of stories....Guilty as charged, I would make up believable stories about his childhood and how I would have imagined it to be. I sometimes make up stories about things we wished we did together but didn't have the opportunity. It makes the children happy. What makes them happy, makes me happy.
I am happy, much to the disbelieve of others. I am happy how things happened the way they did, and I am happy how things ended. There will be the occasional sorrows, because I am human. There will be days where I am in denial. But those days do not come often now. Do you think time has healed me? In a way, I hope it hasn't. I wasn't injured to start off with. We parted in love, and thats a happy ending.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Form fillings.....official forms. Can't hide away from it.

"We will need your particulars and your husband's for this loan application".

Oh....ok. Ummmmm......4 years and 2 months on, and I am still in denial. People can be so stereotypical. Why did she assume that I had a husband to particulise? I stared at the application form. It had a few boxes to tick. It was a simple enough form to fill.

Status: Single, Married, Divorced, Seperated, Widowed. No box to tick for Denial.

"Are you ok madame?"

"Sorry?" I asked.

"Do you need help with the form?" She asked me.

"Oh....No. No, I am ok. Just give me a few more minutes." She gave me a smile. One of those "hurry up already will you" smiles. I looked back at the status box. Why is it so hard to tick my status? I quickly gave it a tick, signed the bottom of the form and handed it back to the lady.

"Thank you madame. Please have a seat while we process your application." I sat down in the cold waiting area. Banks are just so....banky. I never know why I get nervous at the bank. I sat patiently.

The lady came out again, and she nodded at me, indicating that I should approach the counter.

"Ok Dr. We will take about 24 hours to finalise the contract of the loan and check out your financial background. But I am sure there will not be a problem. We will contact you tomorrow. Once this loan is approved, we will deal directly with the car sales agent so you won't have to come in again. The agreement will be sent to your mailing address by registered post."

"Thank you." And I left.

Another loan to add to the list. It was a lot easier when there were two of us paying for it. I'm struggling to make ends meet. But, who would believe.....a doctor that can't afford a house and a locally manufactured car. I don't mind though, not living in luxury. Just enough to have a solid roof over our heads, meal on the table, and a bit put aside for our children's future education. I do however mind the numbness that I have on life.

The art of self therapy

My feelings and words have no correlation when it comes to sitting down and discussing about 'the issues'. I have many, you see. And it all appears to be tangled, like last year's festive lights. They are a mixture of wonderful and colourful memories, yet some are broken and missing or no longer lighting up. I wonder if blogging it all down will make it all clearer. Some people do, and it appears to be helping least superficially. I think I have nothing to loose, so I'll give it a try.
Let me see how this blog appears. First time blogger.....