Saturday, November 14, 2009

A much overdue update

I'm amazed at the immediate response we received from Shin's birthday post. I figured that I've been so negligent in updating that no one must follow it anymore. But immediately a wave of support hit me. Many thanks. Life gets busy and I suspected that Shin and this blog's readers would have forgiven me for not updating so well. But I realize I owe at least a basic update.

Firstly, Josie and Toby are just great. they are both in school full time now. Josie sees herself as an avid reader just like her mom. Toby is wonderfully affectionate. Both seem secure and balanced with the loss of their mom. We talk about Shin frequently, but both Josie and Toby seem to be able talk about her happily. My mother, Carol, has retired from nursing in the US and is with us most of the time. Carol has other grandkids in Boston, US, that she spends some time with, but she has definitely given a maternal stability for Josie and Toby. Our helper Elisa, who has been with us since Toby was born, has been very dedicated in helping to bring up Josie and Toby. I personally feel pride that our family has faced difficulty, but pulled together for the sake of the kids, who so far are doing well.

I am doing well. At times I can dwell on how much I feel Shin has lost out on. I see the wonderful things Josie and Toby have done this past year and multiply that times 20. My heart aches for her loss. On the other hand, I know it would help put Shin at piece knowing we are doing well, and i'm confident she would be happy.

On to the photos!

We went to Boston in May and had a chance to catch up with my brother. Here are some photos from Fenway Park, home of my beloved Red Sox:

And here is a photo of when Josie and I dressed up to go to the Symphony:

And here are some photos of our recent trip to the Philippines. With Josie in a Jeepnee, and with her grandfather, Toby in the pool and making a face:

Finally, her is a photo of Josie going to school on "Hero" day. On Hero day the children do not have to where their uniforms, they can dress as a hero. Josie put on one of Shin's shirts, put on her ID badge, her necklase and bracelets and went to school as her "Hero":

Yikes! I've been trying for any hour and just can't get the text to line up with the photos. I'll trust readers can figure out what i'm trying to say.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Shin

Today (12 Nov), Shin would be 43.

We had some cake and released some balloons (with a slide of cake) last night.

Happy birthday Shin, we miss you, we love you.

These balloons can add to your collection.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May it be

I recall when I was young and in love or heartbroken, it was easy to find songs that were very meaningful to me. But then someone else would share a mixed tape of the songs that were so meaningful to them - but to me the songs were kind of bad and I think more was read into them then was really there. I realized that something that is very moving is probably just very personal.

So I am very hesitant to share a song that I've been listening a lot to for inspiration during quiet moments. I suspect what is touching to me, might just be a crappy song to someone else. But here it is anyway. Sometimes I imagine it is Shin on the journey to find her way. Other times I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and I feel it is me.

I also suspect that the song reaches me a bit more than usual because of Gandalf. Gandalf may be my favorite fictional character. This song is played in the LOTR movie when Frodo loses Gandalf - (Gandalf holds back the Balrog but plunges to his doom in the Mines of Moria). Gandalf is such a wise paternal figure that his loss is a very moving part of the story.

And I've probably just proved my point that what is moving to me probably already sounds silly to others. Anyway here is the link:

May It Be by Enya

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh, how far you are from home

Mornie utúlië (darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantië (darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

May it be shadows call
Will fly away
May it be your journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun

Mornie utúlië (darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantië (darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

A promise lives within you now

Shin with Toby

Thanks for the well wishes that continue to come in, both by mail and comments on this blog. I'm still adjusting, still busy and unfortunately haven't been able to fit in much blogging. Its been over three months now. I was just looking at this video clip of Shin laughing with Toby. The date of the video is Jan 11. Amazing that she passed away only 16 days later.

All is well. I have several stories about Toby and Josie that I would like to share and I do find that my feelings and the ways I miss Shin evolve over time. I'll try to gather my thoughts and share them soon.



Monday, March 16, 2009

Sorry for the Radio Silence

Sorry for the lack of posts. All is ok, just short of time. I've started working full time again, and i've been working hard to make sure to get back in time to put the kids to bed. The past 2 weeks were stressful due to an MAS exam that I had to pass and a presentation I had to prepare. On top of that I just happen to be loaded up with a bunch of complications (tax problems, Estate issues - dealing with frozen accounts, leaking problems, trying to refinance, closing accounts). Tedious stuff but it feels like my "to do" list is growing faster than I can clear items.

Lots of people have blogs, but few enjoy the readership Shin had built up. I felt that I was loaded with things to talk about and could continue her blog for a while. It was a great opportunity, I don't think I could ever build a following like Shin had. Nevertheless, I guess I've been too stretched.

I haven't completely given up, but I realize it will probably take at least another week before I have more time to write, and I guess its clear that the idea of keeping it going daily seems less feasible.

This isn't goodbye, but it does seem appropriate to thank everyone for their kindness and support.

The kids continue to be amazing. They seem happy and able to talk about Shin without sadness. Having the kids do well makes it much easier for me. I do find that I continue to get "waves" of feelings that can kind of overwhelm me from time to time. Today, Josie got a certificate for doing well in school, my mother called me at work so that Josie could tell me. At times like that I get this strong feeling of what Shin is missing out on. I'm getting Shin's hp# cancelled. Yesterday I saw her name and number in my phone and I got kind of stuck. Feeling that that practically I suppose I should delete. But it feels like such an awful thing to do.

Anyway, we are all fine really, but still dealing with the feelings of loss as I guess we will for a while.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Memorial slideshow

Dennis, Alicia's husband put together a slideshow of photos taken at the memorial service. The photos were taken by a freind and former colleague of Shin's, Sha Ying.

slideshow video

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Josie's Rainbow

I admit that this isn't how I thought it would be. I had imagined trying to be strong for children crying for their mother. I imagined grief that would be debilitating for the whole family. But the reality is that they almost never cry for Shin, we are moving quite normally and I feel almost guilty that we are not struggling more.

When I posted after the first week that the kids were doing well, I really suspected that they were just protected by the initial wave of support form everyone and that things would get harder as we get back to a more normal routine. But now we have been in a routine for a few weeks and i feel more confident that the kids have accepted their loss and confident that things will be ok. I've thought a lot about what made the difference and a think there are several things that have been key. 1) We had our time to prepare, 2) the year-long period of deteriorating prognosis makes are current situation feel quite stable, 3) my mother being here to be a maternal figure for the kids, and 4) the fact that over the past year I had already taken over the daily routine with the kids.

I took a class on organizational behavior in grad school. One of the lessons they taught was about reward and incentive strategies. The evidence is that most companies get this all wrong. Most companies give one bonus at the end of the year and is only generally tied to performance. The better strategy is to take the year end bonus and to break it up and give it more often throughout the year and tie it to specific achievements. Personal satisfaction will be much higher and there will be much stronger incentive to meet performance objectives. On the other hand, bad news is best given all at once. Don't try to break the bad news gradually, bit by bit. Do it all and get it over with.

This framework helps clarify for me part of what I'm feeling. The past year has been the case where little by little we kept getting worse news. There were periods when we were quite hopeful but then hopes were dashed. And all along we knew what the end result would most likely be. Having time to prepare was helpful, but after a year of being on thin ice I think the family feels more steady now. One of the hard parts of cancer is that the steady worsening of news is exactly what my grad course said was the worst way to have to digest bad news. Things feel relatively calm now.

My mother, Carol, was working as a nurse in the US, but retired towards the end of the year to move out her semi-permanently in order to support the kids and me. Toby and Josie have always been very close to her. I think it is a tough transition for my mother, as she doesn't get to be the grandmother who can spoil the kids now. She has to play the role of the disciplinarian parent. She also leaves all her friends behind in the US. But from the kids perspective I think it makes all the difference. Especially for Josie. At night when the kids wake up, Toby always climbs into bed with me. Josie always goes to her nana. One of my mothers friends emailed me and asked why I don't talk more about the role she must had in helping Shin. It so happens that the week I have written most about (Shin's last week) was the week that Carol was on a previously scheduled trip with friends to Egypt. We didn't really think Shin would deteriorate so quickly at the end and I had also told my mother that when I would really need her was after Shin passed away. So I think it was important that she had her time with friends on a great trip even though she had strong misgivings about be away at that time.

I was looking at photos on the computer yesterday. Josie asked to see a picutre of her and Shin. I was able to find one of Shin and Toby first. Josie excitedly call for Toby to come over and look at the picture of Mommy and Toby. Then I found some of Shin with Josie. I have bitter sweet mixed feelings when I see photos of Shin. Toby saw the photos and smiled and said my mommy and gave me a hug. Josie's reaction was pure joy and excitement.

Josie's came up with the idea of making neclases with a photo of Shin. We talked about which photos we would use. Josie said she would use the one with Shin's hands over her heart. I said I would use the one where she is smiling and cuddling Josie. It was a good crafts idea and Josie was proud she came up with it herself.

Josie was over one her best friends' house. They were have a small cake to celebrate Josie's birthday the previous week. Josie said her mother wasn't at her party, "she died too late". Her friends mother said yes, but she is always with you also. They looked outside a little bit later and Josie was really excited to see a beautiful rainbow.

Toby is very clingy with me when he can be, but he is also happy at school and asks to go play at friends houses.

I think they are doing great and I'm increasingly confident that they are going to be just fine.