Denise Tam

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Posted by Denise on October 24, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Chills came from deep within my bones and out towards my skin as I sat in the pew paying respects to a family friend's mother who passed away.

 

I first met Popo through the fish soup she made me when I spent some time at Queen Mary Hospital in August 2012 due to the relapse of my lymphoma. I never met her, but she heard about me through her daughter and son in law whom are friends of ours at church. And having had gone through cancer herself she knew it was important to eat nutritiously. Ah-li, her helper would bring me soup to drink almost every day. Although not having much appetite I always looked forward to the soup each time. Soup is my comfort food, Chinese soup to be specific. And with my mom spending most of her time accompanying me in the hospital she didn’t have time to make soup for me by the time she got home. Popo never knew, but God knew and He used her to bring just a little bit of comfort to my days at QM.

 

Fast forward in time and I was out of the hospital, in remission and back to my old energetic self. I decided to pay a visit to Popo one day so I could thank her in person. I usually don’t really know what to say to the elderly and to be honest my conversations with them are typically generic topics especially if it’s in my second language. But with Popo she jumped straight into sharing with me her life stories, whether it be about her travels around the world, her children and grandchildren, her savviness with stocks or her own fight with cancer. Popo never left out details or shied away from sharing her wisdom and experience with me, a complete stranger.

 

I only saw her again in two other occasions so despite the wealth of knowledge she possessed it was not her stock trading tricks or her strength in raising three children on her own after her husband’s early passing that struck a chord in me the most. Rather it was her openness to share, her constant and genuine gratitude in life and most importantly the joy she possessed within even in her last days in the hospital.

 

The farewell from her family and friends was a beautiful one that clearly showed how much she loved and how much she was loved.

 

I returned home from the funeral with the chills becoming more frequent and a splitting headache. That was the beginning of my two weeks of living in constant pain. The chills turned into a fever and the pain in my head turned up ten notches so much so that I couldn’t even turn my head without feeling like my brain was expanding. I never had such pain in my head before and I quickly resolved to taking pain killers, something I never do. The medication only brought slight and temporary relief. Sleeping was difficult with the constant throbbing and the pain was so severe at times that I felt like vomiting. Basically, if I wanted to function I needed to pop pain killers.

 

Meanwhile, Wen Ying, my old hospital neighbor and good friend was deteriorating quickly in the hospital. Her year of fighting cancer seemed to be coming to an end. During my own pain these past two weeks I couldn’t help but think about how much more pain Wen Ying had to endure on a daily basis. The pain in her back from the tumor, the pain in her legs, the pain in her chest from not being able to breathe properly, or just the heartache of having been bed bound for the past year staying in hospitals far away from her home in Xian- all this was reality for her for over a year and there was no ‘pill’ to take it away.

 

Sunday morning Wen Ying left to be with our Father in Heaven. Although I will miss her greatly I have great peace in her departure because I know she is in a better place and that more importantly she is no longer suffering.

 

How I met Wen Ying and our journey together has been one that only God can orchestrate. Just like how he used Popo to bring some comfort to me, he used me to reach Wen Ying and by reaching her we have expanded our family of Christ to include not only Wen Ying but also her father, mother, sister and cousin in China as well as her husband, mother in law and brother in law in India. I call that global outreach done locally.

 

When I look back on this story I can see how God had prepared everything in advance, from me learning mandarin a year before I met Wen Ying so I could communicate with her, to her being somewhat close in age to me, to the brothers and sisters I met in the church during my battle with cancer in 2009 that showered their love on me and turned me back to Christ. We’re all part of a beautiful picture God is painting and the best part is that He’s not finished and if you allow Him, He will continue to use you as his pencils and paints. I’ve learned that it may not always be the way you want to be used, it may even be painful and costly to you, but what joy and honor it is to be a part of our Creator’s artwork.

 

Because though there may be pain and trials on earth, as Christians, relief is promised to us in the end when we meet Jesus face to face. Relief has come to Wen Ying and Popo who are both in heaven watching over their loved ones. And I am happy to report that God is merciful and has also extended relief to me and my headache.

 

Below is a poem I wrote for Wen Ying on the day she passed:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/denise-tam/choosing-life-amidst-deat_b_4134279.html

 

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4 Comments

Reply Peter Yeung
12:57 PM on October 24, 2013 
Thank you for sharing your deepest thought. I feel so encouraged and built up. I love your poem for WY too. The battle IS won. We have seen the last chapter of our life- history and History itself and it is good.

Our Lord is good and merciful and faithful indeed!

Have a blessed night with the comforting realization that He whose name is Emmanuel is with you! All the time.

P.Y.
Reply Richard
3:27 PM on October 24, 2013 
Amazing how lives have been touched and changed through unexpected relationships. It is indeed a joy and honor to be found in the Creator's artwork.
Reply Richard
3:28 PM on October 24, 2013 
Amazing how lives have been touched and changed through unexpected, yet deeply meaningful relationships. It is indeed a joy and honor to be found within the Creator's artwork.
Reply Peter Yeung
9:43 AM on October 26, 2014 
It has been more than a year since we last heard from you. I trust that you are well and enjoying His presence. Blessing to you and yours.