100 days – A swimming pool of tears

January 21, 2010

(by Monling on 21 January 2010)

I came back to Amsterdam on 03/Jan. after staying 3 weeks in Taiwan. What was waiting for me is the coldest winter since 29 years. My boiler (for both warm water and heating) was broken and the temperature downstairs was only 5 centigrade when I arrived at my home. It’s not too difficult to fix it with the help of my parents in law, just filling water into the radiator. But 10 days later it’s broken again when I was taking a shower! Well, it’s kind of sauna, I tried to comfort myself with imagination. Luckily a machinist was just in the neighborhood, thank God my boiler could be fixed within one hour after I phoned the service center.

Last week the floor heating downstairs went on a strike. The machinist couldn’t find the reason except advising me putting new batteries to the sensor box. I have moved my laptop to the 1st floor since back from Taiwan so actually I don’t need to use the space downstairs, but I must let heating run for several hours everyday to avoid water pipe getting frozen. Peter used to stay downstairs after being discharged from Rehabilitation Center (RCA), his limited motor function might cause danger for him to walk stairs, for 15 months downstairs was his bedroom and our living room. Because of his illness the last year of his life he could hardly stand coldness, we kept floor heating on through almost whole year except few weeks in summer time. How can he cope with such freezing winter as this one? Oh, he doesn’t have to suffer from it anymore. Thinking of it gives me a little relief.

What did we do last winter and the winter before? Jan. 2008, Peter was busy with getting over his claustrophobia to enable himself go through MRI, MEG, fMRI treatments. Jan.2009 the chemotherapy started. Those days running between home, hospital and rehabilitation center seem far away, those days life full of stress, anger and disappointment, as the words he often used on his blog to describe his situation : sore, splitting headache, lingering pain, fragile, etc. should be forgotten, and I hope that they’ll never come back to my life. But Jan. 2008 we also celebrated my birthday in a restaurant called ML (same as my initials, but this restaurant has disappeared ), the winter before that, we walked together on the snow, and Jan. 2006 we’re looking for a suitable apartment in Milan to start our new life in Italy.

Not only these, those trips we made, those places we visited, those meals I prepared for him and he enjoyed, those days we spent with each other. I didn’t have to say something but he always understood me, he always allowed me to be childish , he always apologized first if we had a quarrel even though it’s my fault, he always let me do whatever I wanted to, he always let me choose the restaurant or movies to go, he always held my hands when we walked. I couldn’t stop shedding tears while missing him, what wonderful life he gave to me, I have forever lost the man who loved me most. I’ve now nothing except memories.

Peter and I had our own language. It’s mixed English, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese and Italian. We used some strange words only we could understand when we didn’t want other people listen to our conversation. I’m now talking it to myself, to him also, but getting no response, I feel myself being left behind in a deserted world.

I phoned to cancel his credit card and found the fact that my card would be cancelled as well because I had the side card of his. We had been using it since 1987, paid with it as often as possible to save award points, And it was combined later with Airlines’ membership card. During those years Peter traveled weekly on business he could save a lots of award miles which were enough for us both having several round trips to Asia. One of my hobbies that time was claiming missing miles. The termination of the card also means the end of the happiest time of my life, but should I be satisfied because at least I once have had it.

A doctor who is famous for performing euthanasia was chosen as the Amsterdammer of the year. His name is van Oijen, he was also called “doctor death” when such treatment had not yet been legalized in Holland. It’s amazing. I never thought “euthanasia” would mean anything to me until Peter chose to have it. The winning of Dr. van Oijen made me so moved and I believe that Peter passed in the way full of dignity. The earthquake happened in Haiti last week, so many victims are still lying under collapsed buildings. I cried while watching TV and it’s the first time I cried not because of Peter’s death. Peter could have his last moment be surrounded by family, and depart in the peace without pain. His remain could be donated for medical science as per his wish. Comparing to many people in suffering, we were blessed.

Peter was few months younger than I, so from the moment he was born until the moment he left I was always somewhere in this world. He never lived in a world without me. I told him it before he departed, he smiled and said that he felt very safe. It’s a relief because I’m the one who has the grief and the loneliness, I wouldn’t let him experience it for even only one split second. He has left for 14 weeks, in 2 days it’ll be 100 days. In Taiwan the bereaved family will be out of mourning after 100 days. Isn’t it the time that I should try to reduce the volume of my tears from a swimming pool to a bathtub……?

Peter, thank you very much for teaching me how to download songs from YouTube and then copy them to iPod, you did it just 3 months before you left and it’s so appreciated. Frits, thank you very much for the iPod sized as a stamp, I use it everyday. My favorite song this moment is sung by Kazumasa Oda :

Some of the text is really beautiful.
(Japanese) English translation
(kimi no tameni) For you
(tsubasa ni naru) I become the wing
(kimi o mamori tsutsukeru) keep on protecting you
(yawarakaku kimi o ) for you
(tsutsumu) I become that wind
(ano kaze ni naru) gently wrap you

That’s what Peter is doing now.



  1. Dear Monling,

    I am not surprised that you still grieve for Peter because love is a two sided coin and the more you love the more you grieve. The pain never goes, but eventually you learn to live with it.

    Happy Birthday! We have two things in common at least, for my husband is called Peter too, and my birthday is January. I’m sorry the restaurant Ml has gone, but I suspect you would not have wanted to revisit without Peter but no one can take away your wonderful memories.

    I lost someone important in my life too ~ some 19 years ago now (terminal cancer). And upon my birthday (just 8 weeks before their death) they gave me a “universal” birthday card. Inside it said: “For this and all your birthdays”. And each year I get it out (and weep a little) and place it with my other birthday cards and feel happy that the person I loved 9and still love) can still “send” me a card despite death. I have a “universal” Christmas card too.

    May I suggest that you get one of the cards out that Peter sent you in the past, and make it your own “universal” card. Because I know that if Peter could send you a card, he would. Then he will share the birthdays that you will have, before you are together again in whatever way you believe you may be.

    I so understand what you meant by your comment about having always been in the World for Peter (since you are slightly older than him). That must have felt so reassuring for Peter, to know that. But he will repay that kindness in a way you might not have thought of. Since he died first, when you eventually die (as we all must when our time comes) he will be there for you in death. You will never have to be in “death” without him being there ~ just as he never had to be in “life” without you being there. There is a beautiful symmetry to that ~ as if you are two halfs of one.

    Take care Monling. You must be a very special lady indeed to have been so loved by Peter. I only knew Peter briefly, through his blog and the occasional e-mail, yet he still managed to touch my heart and soul. Blessings to you.

    RIP Peter. You are greatly missed.


  2. Monling,
    Just 100 days — but it feels like a lifetime, I know.

    Best wishes and much sympathy from London. And spirits up.

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