Do you ever had moments of foreboding when you knew out of the blue, just knew, that something terrible was about to happen?
On the morning of February 11, 2004, I woke up with just that feeling sitting like a lead weight in my stomach. It was accompanied by a hollow, heart-rending feeling of loss.
All day at work, I couldn't shake that black fog that seemed to be following me around. Then at noon, the gut-wrenching cramps and bleeding started. My husband rushed me straight from work to my doctor who confirmed the sad news that we had lost our baby.
Already reeling in pain and loss, I received an overseas call from my mother in Singapore that same night at 11pm. My father had suffered a heart attack earlier in the day and his heart had stopped 3 times in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He was not expected to last any longer than 3 more days.
The next several hours passed in a shocked blur. My doctor had wanted me to rest from the miscarriage, but I simply couldn't afford the time. I still don't know how I packed our bags, booked our flights from Australia or made it to intensive care of the hospital in Singapore, where the whole family had gathered.
Dad was delirious and suffering from pneumonia by then. Mum was the only one he recognized before slipping into a coma. Over the next few days, he went into further cardiac episodes and had to be resuscitated several times. Finally on the 3rd night, the doctor told Mum she had to make the decision. That was a painfully difficult family meeting at 11. 30pm on 13 February 2004.
Mum looked at me helplessly - she didn't know what to do. My elder sister had just taken her young children home, so as the next oldest, I had to help her decide.
So I posed these questions to the doctor:
- If my Dad could miraculously emerge from the coma, what condition was he likely to be in?
- Would he have sustained any lasting brain damage seeing as he had already been 'clinically dead' for several minutes?
- If he somehow revived and had impaired brain functions, would he be able to have any reasonable quality of life?
The doctor tried to be kind but he was honest. The prognosis wasn't favourable at all. So it was decided.
But oh... The agony... The body, the shell that remained still goes through its final throes to blindly survive. I remember feeling knifed by gut-wrenching guilt at the terrible sight.
When we finally returned from the hospital, the night had long past. I was past exhaustion, too wrung-out to sleep. But I laid down in bed, closed my eyes in prayer for a moment.
I suddenly opened my eyes. All my senses were crystal clear and I was remarkably lucid. I knew at once that someone had entered the room from the doorway on the left. Mum was in my younger sister's room at the time, while my husband and I shared my parents' room.
It was early dawn, with the soft rays of light already coming in from the window on my right. I saw my father, not a shadowy figure, but clear as if he was physically in the room with us.
He came up to me, looked down at me on the bed and smiled. His physical appearance was as I last saw him on my previous visit, about 5 months earlier. I felt such an infusion of warmth and comfort.
Then he turned to look at my husband who was sleeping on my left. A puzzled look came briefly over his face, and then it cleared as he seemed to recognise my husband.
In the next instant, Dad was gone and I was left with a beatific sense of peace and comfort.