Today is 20th May 2012.
8 years ago on this day, I gave birth to my first child Jase. And barely 14months later, I gave birth to second child, Charmaine.
Both my children came into this world under extremely different circumstances. Jase came into this world with much joy, anticipation and lots of loving. Charmaine, on the other hand, came into this world with me in tears, anxiety and fears.
Lately, I've been thinking. Especially during days when I miss my little princess so much. I can't help but wonder if I have brought her ill-fated destiny, wrought with so much suffering and pain, upon her, right even before she was in my embrace.
For 2 months in my womb while she was still depending on me to provide her with the best nutrients and happy emotions... I was not eating and I was crying almost every single day... I even contemplated the thought of ending my life. But I couldn't because Jase is innocent and my unborn child didnt deserve to have her life taken away before she had even seen and lived it.
Even back then, Charmaine was my strongest support. Jase kept me distracted but Char kept me moving forward.
Yes, I suspect I am in that guilty, self-blaming phase.
However, no matter how much I looked back, there was simply no possible sane way that I could have remained happy, cheerful, healthy or even sane during that last trimester. No matter how strong I was, I couldn't not be lost, depressed and dejected when my only support - my then husband decided to walk out of Jase, my unborn child and my life totally. Then I started to really hate my ex husband. Throughout the years, I have never really bothered to hate my ex husband because I refused to spend any energy or emotions on a person who doesn't give a damn about us. But yet, this past week, I really hated him. For what it's worth, I was totally oblivious to his adulterous lifestyle with my good pal anyway. Why couldn't he just treated me as the complete idiot I was and initiate the divorce or chase his noble goal of seeking his personal happiness after the birth of my innocent baby? It was only 2 more months...
In my desperate attempts to seek a deeper understanding and a connection with that spiritual world that is totally lost on me, I started to wonder if Charmaine's entire life was like a train on a derailed track doomed to end up in a terrible wreck right from the very beginning, way before she was even born. Just like butterfly effects. And I was a large part of the reason. Then I hated even myself.
In the past month, I have occasionally typed a few blog entries but I never got to finish them ever and somehow, I never found the heart to complete them either... They usually got so depressing that even I myself didn't feel like publishing them. The world doesn't need more any depressing news. More importantly, I felt that I would be doing my princess a great disservice by remembering her for all the wrong reasons. Char Char was hardly anything to do with tears, depression or sadness. She was larger than life. The epitome of courage, strength, hope, determination and infinite amount of love. And that is how she deserves to be imprinted onto the lives of ours.
Nevertheless, try as I might, this grief will always be a part of my life.
I asked a friend of mine how the heck he even put up with my erratic mood swings. He said that my bubbly and positive nature always shine through even when I never noticed them. I laughed because I thought a depressed woman with a bubbly and cheerful nature is as close as one can get to having a lunatic for a friend, isn't it?
Life is not all gloom and doom for me even though the grey skies always feel much closer than they should.
On some days, I feel better. On rare occasions, I even feel good. Sometimes, seeing a smiley face picture of Char opens my floodgates and I pine for her achingly. Other times, I look at her cheeky face and it puts a smile onto my face. I could almost feel her standing right in front of me, feel her warmth and happiness radiating around me. It almost feels like I have never lost her at all. On days like that, I can't help but smile at those so called 'words of comfort' I termed as bullshit, to be true. "I am not gone but I am just next door".
Because of moments like that when I could almost feel a connection to Char my big girl, I try even harder to learn about that other world.
I keep trying.
2 social workers, 1 alternative therapist and daily consumption of my concoction of supplements (which I affectionately named as "happy pills" - Tryptophan, St John's Worts and Vitamin B. All natural supplements known to regulate a hormone that affects our emotions.). These are definitely not the solutions to seeking peace or reducing my pain. Losing someone we love dearly is an experience that we will all grow to cope with and live with. My coping mechanism, since Char's diagnosis has always been one of taking practical actions to deal with my challenge. As such, I kind of need to feel like I am taking an active role to cope instead of mulling around. Hence, I am always trying to cope in a better and more healthy way.
The good news is I have had some success with coping better. But those better days never seem to last beyond a couple of weeks and then I would find myself struggling to stay ahead of my grief once again. It takes a toil on my focus and determination because it is such a pain in the ass. Pardon my French. To feel like you are doing better for a few days and to be thrown back into the abyss of yearning for my loss and feel like I have made no progress right from the beginning sucks big time. I am at the point of not knowing if I should wish for an eternal sentence to remain in that abyss instead! Maybe, it is better to not feel such extreme emotions of progress and despair? Wrong I know... But nothing truly feels right without my little princess anyway...
Today is Jase's 8th Birthday. He will be having a little surprise birthday party at Explorer Kids. Speaking of Jase always makes me feel guilty. Guilty that I've neglected him for 3 years. Guilty that he has had to sacrifice for his little sister. Guilty that he can never have the happy and normal mother that most children will have. Guilty that I will always have a broken heart. Guilty that he has to learn loss and pain at such a young age when he should really be having the time of his life. Guilty that he will have to grow up alone without his sister whom he loves so much.
When it comes to Jase, I will always feel guilty.
He truly deserves better.
A lot of people tell me that I still have Jase and now I need to love him more because he is everything that I have now. Certainly, thats the factual reality. However, most people have no idea how much those words hurt me more than anything. I know everyone mean well... but sometimes, even the best intention do have have that best effect.
For the longest time, I have been beating myself up because I keep feeling guilty towards Jase and I keep feeling lousy that I could not be the mother that I was. I just couldn't do better because my heart is broken and it cannot be mended. I even felt like I am this horrible biased mother. Because Jase deserves the best and I am not even 'normal' so to speak, what best is there to speak of? All he gets is a mother who weeps every now and then when she misses her lost child. A mother who laughs with a tinge of tears. A mother who is going through the motions as best as she could.
Just last week, I met up with the second Neuroblastoma mother who spoke to me after Charmaine was diagnosed. She has a son who was battling relapsed neuroblastoma then. Her son is now in second remission and living each day going to school like any other child his age but suffering in pain daily...
We hardly have much time to catch up with each other but everytime we do, she is like this wise angel sent to make feel better. I confided in her about how lousy and terrible I feel towards Jase. The sense of guilt, the feeling that I don't it good enough... She just told me that she understood how I felt because she is facing the very same challenge as I with her older daughter. Even her older daughter felt that mommy is biased. Being the brave woman she is, she even had a heart to heart talk with her daughter, admitting and explaining how she loves her just as much but it will never be the same as her love for her ill son.
Hearing her words, I cried even harder. Because at that moment, even though we are 2 very different women, we could literally feel the pain, the guilt, and the sense of remorse as 2 different persons connected through cancer. For the first time, I felt understood even without me having to explain myself. She will always understand me because we have walked the same journey. Its a blessing and a curse. I found so much solace in her words, in her hugs and in her eyes.
Hearing her words didnt provide a solution to my guilt but at least, I now know that I feel this way not because I am a bad, lousy and inadequate person but because of what I have gone through. And I just have to continue to try and figure out a way to feel better.
I often hear mothers telling me that they understand me because they are mothers. The truth is, you wont ever understand me unless you have walked my journey. And I will never wish upon any human being what I have gone through.
Another good wise old friend of mine is always sharing his neutral perspectives with me. I appreciated his words of wisdom and acknowledged the fact that sometimes I needed to know that my pain and my loss is nothing more than 'part and parcel of life'. Nonetheless, I think each life experience seems to produce a certain set of side effects, or rather challenges, unique to that experience while they all fall under the macro category of 'providing us with wisdom and maturity'.
The hardest part of this cancer journey with our child is more than just the lack of a cure or the eternal grieving over the loss of our child. Instead, it is how this entire experience plays with your mind. And that is the scariest thing to me. Especially someone such as me, who feels better having a practical problem to deal with. If a screw is loose, I could tighten it. But if it involves my mind, I couldnt simply just take my mind out and tighten the loose bolts! My mind goes through this constant battle of going from happy to sad, contentment to guilt, okay to not, cheerful to depressing, loving to yearning, present to past, anger to peace, future to memories, etc...
It is a minute to minute fight to stay sane.
Okay, maybe thats a little overboard. But believe me, it does feel that way sometimes!
On those really gloomy and doom days, I actually feel like my heart doesnt belong to me and my brain is not under my control. There are days where you keep telling yourself to wake up and feel happy but then your tears start flowing... and then you feel like you are some lunatic with serious issues up in the head! Then you try to self talk to your heart, brain and mind to feel better, negotiate with it... coax it with the phrase 'everything is part and parcel of life'...
Most of the times, after trying everything to no avail... then I just give up. I just allow the tears to flow, do what they have to do. Eat when its time for meals, sleep when its time to go to bed...
Argh - it just keeps going on and on like this!
Dammit - will I ever be able to live normally again?
I dont know... Time will tell, right?
2 weeks ago, it was my first Mother's Day without Charmaine. Jase and I spent a couple of hours with Charmaine at the temple... I was a wreck, but a controlled wreck. Definition - I look OKAY on the outside. I have been polishing my 'act' pretty well lately. Unless I want to open up to you, you cant even guess that my heart is crying inside while I am smiling at you. Well, I guess a slightly more sensitive person will be able to read my face. But so what? I dont know how else to fit into the world while all I truly want to do during my gloomy days is to MULL! The thing is people expect you to move on, to carry on with life as the earth continues to spin daily. I guess thats not a bad idea because its either pretending to look okay and continue to 'live' or crying while 'living'. The thing is crying saps out too much energy.
Okay, time to sign off.
I apologize if I have once again sounded like I am wallowing in self pity and ruining your day. Forgive me because its not my intention to do so. I cant help myself but pour out my emotions whenever I write...
The productive thing is after writing and crying, I honestly do feel better. Thank you for being my phantom listener, my little girl's loving supportor.
Dearest Char Char,
THANK YOU! It was drizzling while we were on our way to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve this morning. I started to worry if the rain was going ruin the hiking trip and spoil the fun for Kor Kor. Then I decided to ask you for a favour to blow all the rain clouds away!
Amazingly, the drizzle stopped and it was such an awesome day for the hike. We had so much fun! Because the drizzle stopped, even though I couldnt feel you, I know you were with us every step of the climb.
I LOVE YOU. I still do and I always will.
Kor Kor loves you too. He still speaks of you fondly, never changing.
To both Jase and me, you are always with us even though we cant see you.
Watch over us and make sure you cast your fairy spell of happiness onto us.
Promise me that we will meet again someday, because that is the only hope that keeps me going.