A New Chapter Begins

There’s no way to determine what will happen in a few days, or hours. We can guess, we can assume. But there’s no way to know.

Two weeks ago, I had written about change. Change has happened, and it will take time to heal. But it’s okay. There are no regrets. Things happened the way they were supposed to. The journey has taken us halfway around the world — and was worth it.

I’ve written this post over the course of a few days, to reflect on all the things that have happened since the beginning of September. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but I’m so glad we made it.

The last time I wrote, Grandma was very ill. She had pneumonia, and had been in and out of hospital, mostly ER, 15 times in 16 months. When we arrived in Singapore and went to visit on Sunday, she had just been discharged from hospital the day before. We were hopeful we would spend several weeks with her. It was nearing five p.m. when we visited.

Grandma was half asleep. Everything seemed alright. We had dinner with Grandpa, and decided to stay longer. At nine p.m., we were about to leave. Suddenly, as the caregiver was feeding Grandma, my aunt noticed that Grandma’s oxygen levels was falling… fast. An ambulance arrived. The EMT people gave her an oxygen mask, and her breathing calmed. The rest of us followed the ambulance to the hospital. Around 10:38, we were in a little room off of ER (A&E). We were sitting across from a doctor and nurse. Listening. Trying to absorb what was being said.

My grandmother passed away on Sunday, September 10. Her wake was held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. She was buried on Thursday at 5:00 p.m.

As Dad says, change is the one constant. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you are, what status you may have. When something happens, it happens. What matters is that we were there with her, in those few hours. My parents and I have heard relatives say, “It’s a good thing you were there in time.” It’s true. I’m grateful that the flight went smoothly, and that we arrived when we did. And I strongly believe Grandma was waiting for us. She knew we were there. The phlegm in her lungs prevented her from speaking, but Grandma opened her eyes once, for a few moments, when we were there. She saw us.

I’m extremely grateful to our family and friends who came, who shared the memories and reminisced in the good times. Even though we were hurting inside, it helped to talk about Grandma. It helped to become reacquainted with people we haven’t seen in so long. Now we’re doing our best to be there for Grandpa, and also give him time to heal. I hope he will remember, and rejoice in, all the years he and Grandma had together.

Ruby was there the whole time, at the funeral parlor: her arms always open for a hug, her smile the sweetest, most endearing comfort. I put her on top of Grandma’s coffin in the daytime, to watch over and protect her. Even though Grandma never saw her – Ruby had stayed at the hotel while we went to visit, planning to bring her the next day – I think she left Ruby with us to remind us that she’s always there, watching over us. Ruby reminds us to rejoice in all the wonderful times we had with Grandma. I’m grateful to Team Bamboletta, for creating such a special, cherished member of the family. Ruby arrived just before we left, and has witnessed so much in such a short time. She will be with us for many, many years to come.

So much of our time is spent chasing something, or avoiding it. It’s important not to take for granted what’s right in front of us. I know those words sound cliché. But they’re true. We’re not going to linger on all the things that could have, should have, would have happened. Instead, we’re grateful for the things that did happen. All the blessings that unfolded.

When change comes, it comes. When life suddenly takes a different turn, a different path, there’s no way to be ready for it… but you can find comfort and gratitude in the journey.

I hope Grandma is having, or has had, a safe journey. I hope she knows how much we love her. Maybe now, Grandma can get some rest. Maybe now, she’ll be more comfortable. Maybe, just maybe, she’s smiling down at us.

In a way, things have sorted out. Everything will be alright. Grandma is with us. She always will be.

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