Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The mystery of death and the miracle of life

There are good reasons for our missing in action in the blogosphere. The last three weeks had been most eventful – mostly tearful for very diverse reasons. I, I’Ching, shall recount them chronologically.

“O death, where is your sting?”

Sometime last year, I gave a talk on death and mortality from a biblical worldview. In my talk, I contended that since death is the most certain thing in life and how it does not discriminate against gender, age nor race, we should embrace our death instead of resisting it when our turn is up.

On the third day of Chinese New Year, just as I returned home from work, we received a phone call from family in Ipoh, Malaysia, that my maternal grandmother had died unexpectedly. My aunt (my mother’s sister) found her lifeless body sprawled in her bathroom. It had only been a few hours before that she was sent home after spending a few days at my mom’s for the New Year celebration (she insisted on living alone after her stroke and surgery last April).

PohPoh (Grandma in Chinese Hakka dialect) holds a special place in my life as I spent my first few years with her. My parents had to leave me with her while they worked in a different city. So, in some ways, she was my “mom.” Throughout my adult life, she would always remind me of how I cried and cried for her when I finally had to return to my parents as I was starting first grade. This is only one of my many childhood stories that she would tell me over and over again. I will miss them…

But what was most heartbreaking for me was that I could not travel the hundreds of miles to bid my last goodbye to her due to my advanced stage of pregnancy. So, I had to mourn from a distance – calling family members every hour for an update. On January 30, 2009, my beloved PohPoh was buried at a Christian cemetery near Ipoh.

While I still believe that we should embrace death as it’s an appointment none of us will be spared, I learned that it is perhaps easier to contemplate the prospect of one’s own death than the death of a loved one. Always easier to leave than to be left behind…

For days after PohPoh’s death, I find myself constantly wondering about where she is. I believe in the immortality of our souls but where exactly do our souls “go” after death? Where is PohPoh now? While my biblical worldview leads me to believe in some certainties surrounding life and death, there is still so much about death that we do not comprehend till when it’s finally our turn.

Meanwhile, the lessons I’ve learnt the last few weeks starting from my mom’s accident in December is that we should never ever take our relationship with loved ones for granted as our finiteness deems us ignorant of when death should come knocking.

New man in our life!

As I’m writing this, the new love of my life is sleeping peacefully next to me oblivious to the tropical heat and the traffic noise downstairs. Little Craig Chan Thomas was born on February 10, 2009 at 8:29am. At birth he weighed 2.95 kgs (6.5 lbs) and measured 51 cm long (20 inches).
Craig’s due date was not till February 20 but at the doctor’s appointment on February 9, she informed us that my blood pressure was elevating and was at risk for pre-eclampsia. Inexplicably, I had also lost a kilogram over a week. When the doctor finally checked for dilation, she noticed that the structure of my pelvic bone would entail a very long and difficult natural birth. In fact, she may end up doing a Caesarean-section on me after all. Having considered all factors, Brian and I decided that it would be safest for both the baby and me to go through a C-Sect birth. I was, surprisingly, disappointed as I was all geared up for a natural birth though I had initially planned for an elective C-Sect. Oh well…

So, at 7am on February 10, I was wheeled into the Operation Theatre and less than 2 hours later I met the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen! He’s SO precious! One cannot imagine loving someone so intensely though you hardly know him until one becomes a parent! I’ve never seen Brian smile so much endlessly! It was like when we both first fell in love!
It’s amazing – a new life is truly a miracle as we observe his little fingers, toes and all – he’s a full person but just little! But so helpless and dependent! Looking at Craig’s present state of existence draws my mind to the humbling fact that God trusted humanity so much that the person of Christ came to earth first in the form of a helpless baby! God could have come in so many other more glorious ways but he chose to come through the birth canal of a peasant woman! How awesome!

More posts on parenthood and sleepless nights soon! Meanwhile, let’s just hope that baby Craig will get as much breastmilk as baby Jesus did!