I fell in love with you the moment I cradled you in my arms. A feisty, bawling bundle of joy. You cried incessantly, at all hours of the day and night, but the nook of my arms seemed to bring you solace, and in return, that impish smile of yours would shine straight to my heart.
You lit up our otherwise unadorned home, every corner of it bearing witness to your ever-enlarging presence and our moments of mirth and laughter together. “Dada”, you’d call, and I would at once drop on my hands and knees and wholeheartedly welcome the commands of my almighty princess. Oh, how you knew your place in my world…
As you mastered the art of walking (quite late, to be frank, but I knew you were just biding your time before launching me with the full assault), you followed me everywhere. Pottering around our apartment – which had, by then, been decorated with all your favourites – we would tend to our panoply of pets and my ’60s paraphernalia of your parents when they were your age.
We walked the mile to school every day – and it was truly the golden mile – with our hands intertwined and our hearts even more tightly so.
I wouldn’t have admitted it back then, but you quickly outgrew me. Your intellect and curiosities expanding beyond what I could ever offer. But instead of relegating me to the wayside (like many who would grow apart from the poor, feeble elderlies that raised them), you made it your life mission to fulfil mine. You taught me that ours is a love that does not yield to the sometimes crippling effects of Time, or Illness.
It was your leaving that broke me. On a particularly frigid autumn day, you were taken from me. Whilst I know you are destined for greener pastures, I don’t think I ever fully recovered from your long stretches of absence. My powers of speech began to fail me that day. The walls, once echoing with sounds of mirth and laughter, echoed with a solemn silence. A silence that would become deafening with each passing day. I acquired a new pastime, staring out the window, envisioning every vehicle that came into view would bring my little princess home to me.
And alas, some did.
You always knew where to find me. By my bedside you’d sit, patiently stroking my hands like times of old, patiently gazing into my eyes. You alone knew how to converse with me. And what conversations we had in those moments of beautiful silence!
I’m sorry that this letter eventually had to find its way to you. But grieve not, my child! I have lived a long life; a life made all the more fulfilling with the knowledge of your love. So go on, my sweet child, live yours. Just remember that no matter how far your fancies take you, do come home once in a while, and share in this moment of beautiful silence. With me.
Postscript: The latest “Dear You” letter is posted in memory of my sweet, sweet “dada” (the Shanghainese dialect for paternal grandfather), whom held on for the knowledge of my wedding, before slipping into eternal silence in 2010. Prayers also go out for my equally dear grandmother, whom is fighting her own battles today. There is little I can do on the other side of world, with exception of praying, and writing.
In my mind I have written a hundred “Dear You” letters (to those past and present) that have had no home beyond the confines of my memory. This one is special. It presents a different point of view, that of my dada’s. For the last 5 years of his life, he was incoherent to everyone except me. I want to give my dada the voice he deserves. Similarly, I’m grateful to SoMuchToTellYou, and you, dear Readers, for lending me the voice I didn’t know I have.