Friday, 20 April 2012

My friend Yvonne

We have been back for a week but I just wasn't in the mood to blog about our latest Kuching getaway. You see, when I got home, I received news that my friend Yvonne is seriously ill in the hospital. I've blogged about her fight against brain cancer and knew her days were ending, yet I couldn't bear to see a gorgeous and once vivacious girl in this sad state.

During my visits, she could no longer recognise me and her vision is impaired. One side of her brain is almost completely ravaged by cancer and she is living in intense pain. In her heavily sedated state, she drifts in and out of consciousness, oblivious to the endless stream of visitors.

Obviously she has touched the lives of many people because she has no lack of wellwishers. We mill around and it is so painful for us to see her life fading away. I see nothing but pain in the eyes of her mother.  According to the doctor, she might live for another 3 weeks yet her partner is hoping to send her for treatment in the USA. In his own words, he said he cannot simply sit and watch her die. In his eyes, I see hope. As a friend, I try to remain strong and supportive.

She was sleeping peacefully when I visited her yesterday. In her sleep, she looked like the beautiful girl I used to know, someone who wasn't in pain or misery. Her skin is now fair and smooth and for once, I notice the cute freckles on her cheek. In my previous visit, she was drowsy yet confused, restless and shifting about in discomfort. We tried to keep her comfortable while the doctor increased her morphine dosage.

Today Yvonne is only 34 years of age, at the prime of her life. Before cancer struck, she was an intrepid traveler. During our beach holiday in Koh Samui 10 years ago, we spent our days lazing in the sun. Amongst us, she was the one who attracted the most number of suitors. Even as we packed our bags to go home, she stayed behind on a small island to work for an European jeweler. She had that kind of charm and spirit that appeal to people from all walks of life.

Now, her Facebook page is plastered with encouraging comments from friends and strangers. Everyone is fervently praying for her recovery or a miracle. In my card to her, I could only write "Get well soon" when what I really want is to have the same old Yvonne back again. The heatlhy and radiant girl with the golden tan and sunniest smile.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Here and there

The lack of posts means I have been busy. Sometimes I think I'm quite mad, juggling so many things but other times, I'm just thrilled to be so productive at work and home. Last week, I was in Malaysia again on a work trip.

From the photo, you can see that we were blessed with good weather that day though it started to pour while we were making our way back to Singapore.

With the wet weather, I haven't been able to run in the mornings. Luckily best friend bought me a hula hoop. I thought I would never be able to master the hula hoop but after a week of awkward gyrating, I can finally keep it spinning around my hip. The hardest part is learning to move gracefully like a belly dancer.

During the weekends, we've been doing lots of hiking in Pulau Ubin and other nature reserves. For a change of scenery, we're flying to Sarawak this Friday to do a hike at Bako National Park. The kids deserve a holiday before one starts school and the other enlists in the army. I wish I could bring them on a longer holiday but traveling can be so expensive.

I promise to come back with lots of photos of Sarawak.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


When I opened the mailbox last night, there was a letter addressed to SK. At his age, SK doesn't receive that many letters and this rather official-looking one from his secondary school made me nervous.

I opened it warily and almost jumped with joy. It turned out to be an invitation to the Speech and Awards Ceremony because he topped the school in Art for GCE 'O' Levels. Since he was barely two, he could draw his favourite fishes without any difficulty. I've always believed in him though he has never acknowledged his talent. I think he sets very high standards for himself.

Both my sons are very artistic but only SK has chosen to pursue his studies in Art while YK is more interested in Science.

To me, this award is important in many ways. SK is about to start a diploma course in Environment Design but is suddenly having doubts. He wonders if he had made the right choice as he ponders about his future. I said it doesn't matter as long as it's something he enjoys. I hope winning this award will boost his self-confidence.

Today my colleague reminded me of an incident that I had almost forgotten. In 2008, SK submitted a brilliant piece of artwork for his final year exams but the teacher wrongly accused him of getting help at home. I was so upset because she gave him a poor score (40/100) and he was subsequently punished. You can read the story here and here.

If the teacher is going to be at the ceremony, I hope she will realise that she had made a mistake. I am happy that this award has vindicated SK from her accusations.