Snow and Winter
I have heard of people’s worlds turning upside down overnight.
Those were other people’s stories, not mine. Then one day it
happened. I fell ill and went to consult our doctor. He found a lump
in my throat. He was very worried and suggested I went for a laser
scan. He told us that it could be cancer. He said if it was cancer, I’d
probably have six months to live. They needed two weeks to get back
to us with the blood test result.
The waiting period between life and death dragged on. I grieved
that I might have to lose Tony and Lukas. Tony could take care of
himself but Lukas, who was only two then, had a whole life ahead
of Him – a big part of which I might have to miss. For the first
time in my life, I was jealous of the elderly. “Dear Lord, I know
You have plans for me and I shouldn’t be ungrateful for my life so
far. But please, let me live long enough to see my young son grow
up!” I selfishly bargained with God. I then began cross-stitching a
bookmark for Lukas with his name on in. It was a desperate attempt
to leave something behind, just in case.
“What would you do if you had only six months to live?” a
speaker back home in Malaysia had asked a few years ago. Such a
question never fails to incredibly clear our cluttered minds. “What
would matter most?” he continued. “Would you still go on doing
what you are doing?” he pressed further. I had time to seriously think
through those searching questions. I realised I didn’t need to make
any changes. Everything was what it should be. Jesus had indeed led
me all the way.
Some days I went about my chores and had things done. Some
nights I just sat on the sofa and cried until Tony came home from
It finally snowed in February. I waited all December. As it neared
Christmas, my eagerness and impatience for a snowfall grew
greater. I had never experienced a white Christmas. But throughout
December and January, the ground remained barren and bare.
The tree branches bore no weight of white. The night skies had
no reflected glow from the snow to light them up. Instead, night
after night, it rained. The streets glistened icy and slippery under the
city lights. I felt cheated. Snow and winter go together. Without it,
winter is just cold, damp and dark, like the inside of a tomb.
Death was on my mind. My wife, my companion of seven years,
twin to my soul, mother of my two-year-old son, may have cancer.
The “C” word chilled me. I feared I would never be warm again.
It was a routine visit to the doctor. Dr Eng, a specialist in thyroid
cancer, noticed a lump in Teresa’s throat. He looked worried.
“I would like you to have that lump checked, Teresa.” It sounded
like a death sentence to us.
The snow had covered our neighbourhood. From our basement
suite’s window, we saw the lawn covered with a pure, pristine layer
of snow. It was unmarked as yet with footsteps.
Teresa was sitting with me on our sofa looking out the window.
Suddenly she said, “I am going out.” She put on her winter coat
and set out into the cold. Outside, she stamped all over the lawn
– turning everything into mush.
I looked at her from where I sat. My wife. So different from me.
I would have liked to keep the lawn untouched. And appreciate it
from the comfort of a warm, cosy room. Teresa liked to be in the
thick of the action. Wherever she went, laughter and life followed.
She’s so unlike me. Soon, she may be gone. But I will not forget her,
ever. This scene of Teresa messing up the snow will be with me all
the days of my life.