Category Archives: family

hello goodbye

this morning right before waking up, i had a really beautiful dream of ah ma. usually my ah ma dreams feel a little eerie and i watch her as i wonder on the inside – why something doesn’t feel right. then the feeling begins to become overwhelming and dark and eventually ends with me waking up to this shattering realisation that she is dead.

i dream a lot. i always have. and my dreams are incredibly intense. but until recently i could always just wake up startled, comfort myself knowing that it’s just a nightmare and try not to think about it as i fall back asleep. by the next day it would be nothing but a very foggy memory of something that i really would never be able to recall in detail.

dreaming of ah ma is a completely different experience. it usually starts out incredibly normal. nothing out of the ordinary. then i start to notice little details that don’t quite make sense. a part of the house that looks different. an object that we never owned. a conversation that doesn’t make sense. a person that should not be there with us. and as i wonder… and look around… and experience the dream i am having – not yet realising it’s a dream – ah ma starts to fade or mutate. sometimes i look at her and realise i don’t recognise who i’m looking at anymore. other times i look in her direction and all i can see is energy that i know symbolises her in the scene but she no longer has any form.

then it starts to sink in. always takes a while but i’ve never had a dream of ah ma that did not end with the same realisation. it feels like a cloud descending, a wave travelling through my body. and then i get it. something doesn’t feel right. this can’t be reality. that is not ah ma…because ah ma is dead.

i wake up. startled. sad. confused. numb.

i can’t shrug it off and comfort myself this time. what woke me up was reality hitting home. i wake up and ah ma is indeed no longer here with us. she is dead. and i don’t think i’ve been able to process what it means for her to be dead.

ah ma has been a part of my life since the day i was born. i spent more time living with her than i did with my parents. when i first left home at 18, she used to call me multiple times throughout the day to ask if i’ve had food. if i was alright. if i needed money. to be safe and careful. to make sure i was getting enough sleep and had a place to stay. to let me know that i could just go home at any point if i needed to. that she would always be there. that i was not alone. she was my safety net.

she very much is still alive in my mind and heart. ah ma is right here. i’ve spent so much time talking to her throughout life that her presence will forever be a part of my life.

there are moments where it hits me hard though- that ah ma has passed. and if i let it be, it is overwhelming because i feel so bad for not going back to visit her in the last month when she was put into a home and we knew she didn’t have long more. we were scheduled to move up north by the end of the month and then i’d go get her from the home and move her to a home closer to us. she didn’t make it to the end of the month. i didn’t go say goodbye.

ah ma has always been the absolute best person when it came to understanding that i had my own life to live and couldn’t always visit her. she never made me feel bad when it’d been a while since i visited. not once. i wonder if she understood i was going to go get her so she could finally be close enough for me to see her all the time. i wonder if she was sad that i didn’t go see her. i’m not a person of much regret. but this, i do regret. and i wish over and over and over again i could turn back time and hug her one last time.

so this is the honest reality of ah ma’s passing for me. i didn’t run to go see her when i had the chance to. i waited and it was too late. i didn’t say goodbye. i didn’t tell her one last time that i loved her. i will never be able to change that. ah ma lives on in my memory forever but there is no closure because i will never stop feeling bad for not seeing her one last time. i do not desire to stop feeling bad about it.

last night i spoke to yoong before sleeping, because the night before i had a really dark dream of ah ma. i told him that nothing could change. i do not know how else to process her passing more than i have. i know she is no longer physically here. i know she lives on forever in my heart. i am happy for her that she no longer has to suffer the pain of being ill. i am alright that she is no longer here. it’s the eventuality of all of our lives here. hers came to an end the way it was supposed to. not abrupt. not tragic. just an expected peaceful passing. i knew ah ma wouldn’t be here forever.

the emotions are so strong that it feels incredibly numbing. i accept that i feel numb. i accept that death is such a weird thing to process because it changes reality but technically doesn’t remove a person’s presence. nor does it take away the past. or the love.

processing death is a strange experience. i totally understand the eerie dreams i have of ah ma. i accept that as my forever. which is why this morning when i woke up foggily to a beautiful dream of her, i wanted to jump out of bed and write everything out to see what’s changed since last night.

in this dream, i was in our old home with ah ma, ah kong and epoh (grandma, grandpa and grandaunt). ah kong was filling water into a really cool water gun and i was showing ah ma and epoh how it worked and why it was better than a slingshot (which ah ma used to use all the time to shoot at crows). there was a cool bike in front of our house that ah kong rode in on. we were having good laughs and ah ma brought food out and told me to go eat. then the neighbour came back and asked ah kong why we had a broken bike out front. i looked over and saw an old broken down bike with no wheels under a tarp.

usually this is the point where my dream would start to get eerie.

but this time it felt incredibly natural. all of a sudden, we were all in the house. my brother was at the table with me and i was explaining to the neighbour that we were playing pretend. “you see, my grandma is no longer here with us so when she is, we try to make the best of it and enjoy the time we have with her. that’s why it doesn’t matter if it’s a broken bike outside. it can be anything we want it to be.” i absolutely knew ah ma was dead. i knew it was a dream.

i look at ah ma, trying to take in all of her. her short wavy white hair. the shade of her skin. her aging once chubby frame. those large spectacles. her checkered short sleeve shirt and sarong. her smile. her gummy, toothless, denture-less smile. her voice as she nags at me to eat. the love i feel as she fusses about everything. i stare for as long as i can, because i know she is gone. and my dreams (which i have very little control of) is the only place i will ever see her again. i look at her so long she becomes a still frame. and then just an image. i smile as i think of her. and then i wake up.

present. aware. at peace.

i miss you every day ah ma. i miss you with all my heart and soul. perhaps it will always be a mix of good dreams and bad ones when it comes to you because i love you that damned much. i will always wish you could be right here with me, so these dreams – good or bad – i look forward to them. because i look forward to seeing you.

you used to tell me when you had dreams of your mother and grandmother. i never understood. now i do.


another end. another beginning.

this year can be summed up in three photos and one word –

Yam SengUntitled-1FAMILY2015


right now, i really wish all of life would just cooperate and be nice to us. a day ago i thought everything was finally fuss free. but i was proven wrong again. we’ve decided out of respect to family and to remove all questions and complications – to have a wedding reception dinner in may. yes, that’s not too long to go. but we’re not looking to have something grand. just a simple dinner with good music and better company. may marks exactly a year since we’ve been registered. it feels like there’s no point in waiting any longer.

also, i REALLY like the date 1.5.15 :)
and it was available at the location we wanted!

(my) dad’s been really helpful and happy to plan with us so we might have a tiny little church ceremony as well (for his sake) if the date is available. seemed like everything was falling into place really nicely. until my husband’s parents decided yesterday that for god knows what reason, us having this reception dinner was an act of disrespect, and he (yoong) is being very disrespectful and not saying sorry blablablablablablablablablablablablabla……………….i mean, come on! i am really tired of my in-laws need to disapprove and dislike everything their son has chosen to do. we are 27 this year. not 18 year olds wanting to get married. we have already created a life together which we plan to live together for the rest of our lives. i’d say we’re pretty committed to each other and our goals. us being together is old news and they are no longer making any sense at this point.

i am at a complete loss with what to do as we have tried our best to do all we can to try and find a good middle ground. i’ve even hugged my MIL. three times! and planned to do it anytime we see them from now on. but there is simply no middle ground with them. it is fact that they will forever have some issue or another to pick on. no matter what we do or don’t do.

i believe, what they want is for him to live the life they want him to live. step by step. and then still, they won’t be happy. i was there for my brother in law’s wedding. he’s lived life the expected way and there was no love to be seen or felt at their wedding. so i’m under no impression that things will be any better at ours.

i just want it to be done and over with so we can move forward with the next phase of life. if they are so completely upset at us deciding to do this now, how are they going to feel when we begin trying to start a family? is that something they expect us to wait for their approval for? do they want us to wait so long that i’ll be pregnant before we announce our marriage and then things look even messier? jesus.

i’m so sick of the word “respect” or “disrespect” being thrown around like we’re society’s garbage. as if we’re uneducated, rowdy teenagers making a fool out of ourselves. we are asian children. respect for elders and just generally giving a damn what our families think has been ingrained into our very being. we are never actually trying to disappoint parents so why do they have to make such a fuss over things not going their way?

i don’t think they did a bad job in raising their son. they raised the man i have come to love so dearly. for some reason it seems as though they have no faith in how they raised him because all they do is express how much they think he is a failure. that as a man, he has no financial stability and bad health (what his dad said to him in the hospital). i feel so protective over our space and am disgusted at how toxic they can be at times. it makes me feel like closing that chapter and not letting it be a part of our lives at all.

if you asked me, we are pretty decent people living a fair, purpose-full life trying to make our world a better place. how is that something for any parent to be ashamed of? we are not looked down on by our peers. they fail to pick up on what others have no problem seeing – that we’re only trying to chase our dream. we’re willing to work really hard and don’t ask for much at all. we love that we have had to struggle and will continue to struggle for a while before getting to a well deserved stable place.

i am incredibly proud of ourselves. it does not matter anymore what they think. it no longer matters to yoong one bit either. at this point, reception dinner or no reception dinner doesn’t make a difference to us. it was supposed to be for them. we are already married – wedding or not. i just thought it’d be nice to remove all mess so we could just focus on enjoying this incredible life we have created.

some people are beyond help and almost impossible to cooperate with. i always wanted loving in-laws who would welcome me into their lives like a daughter of their own. i am beyond grateful to have a family that has chosen to love my husband like their own son. but i do also wholeheartedly accept my in-laws for who they are and do not wish to change a thing. if only (for everyone’s sake) they could find a way to begin accepting us for who we are too.

because at this point, it’s either they stop being destructive to our peace of mind or they stop being in our lives period.

year of the sheep


homemade cookies and cny deco in our dining area.

this is the first cny that i’m getting to celebrate in a real home of my own.
this is the first cny i’m celebrating without my grandma.

it doesn’t get any more bittersweet than this.
i wish you were still around to get to come over for cny ah ma. i wish i could cook you the food you used to cook for me. i wish so many things, but you’re just not here anymore.

don’t worry though. i’ll continue to celebrate it, even if there’s not much of the tradition that i know or understand. i’m sure to you, it’s the thought that counts. and you know that i continue to love you every day.

still looking forward to having the first reunion dinner in our home and starting our own tradition.

i remember

ah ma used to cycle all the way to kfc to buy me a burger all the time, when i said i didn’t want to eat anymore. i would actually be full, and end up eating more anyways. she was smart at tempting me. she also did this with the fish & chips from lucky, wantan mee from ashita, buns from a bakery down the main road and countless other foods.

she used to pull me aside not so discreetly and insist that i take some cash or angpau (red packets) from her as it was good luck – before i left the house for longer periods of time.

i remember her black sauce chicken and fried fish with sweet soy sauce. they were my favourite. when she couldn’t cycle out anymore, she would cook food at home anytime i was back. and she’d make it a point to bring it straight to my room upstairs. even when she could barely walk up the stairs. as she got older, she’d slowly make her way up and down while sitting, one step at a time.

now when i look back, i realise how much she aged over the past decade. i didn’t really feel it then, because it was so slow and gradual. i didn’t think of the person she was the last time i saw her. funny how some things feel so clear when it’s time to say goodbye.

she used to make me milo and keep it frozen in the freezer for when i got home from school. i always say i was a milo baby. she was probably the reason why. one time, i had so much milo and food, i threw up.

i grew up with my grandma always around. i think i can say i lived with her throughout the years more than i’ve lived with my parents, or anyone else. she’s never not been a part of my life. however seldom or often i’d see her.

when i first moved to kl, she used to call me many times throughout the day. sometimes i’d love it. sometimes she’d annoy me. for the most part, i always answered and chit chatted with her. i suppose that gradually changed as well – until she didn’t call me for so many days that i’d find myself calling her. i remember thinking a few years back that someday my grandma’s going to stop calling and i’m really going to miss her fussing about me.

i can’t believe that day is here.

i really can’t believe that day is here.

it really is, isn’t it.
you’re really gone.

you really were the best grandmother a person could ever ask for. no one will ever spoil me the way you did. i still miss you ah ma. more than words can describe.