I was sixteen and a half when my beloved older sister passed away on April 28, 2012. Today is her birthday.
Dear Jie (姐/Big Sister),
Happy 26th birthday. I don’t need to ask you if you know how much I love you- I know that I was and am still able to express this to you.
Has it really been some seven and a bit years since I last heard your voice, last laughed with you, last buried my nose in your cheek, last lay beside you with my head on your chest? It feels both so long ago and like it was only yesterday.
It’s been an eventful few years since then. I graduated high school and was voted a prefect and also named dux. I received a scholarship accordingly; I started and have now almost finished medical school. I met and broke up with my first boyfriend. I’ve been part of and said goodbye to a few different churches. I learnt to skateboard, to sing and to DJ. Yi-Goh and PK got married; PK and I do some photoshoots and blogging together. Goh has a girlfriend too. I took on a few leadership roles where I saw it was necessary; I didn’t want to, but one can’t shy away from responsibility. I’ve been traveling the world. I’ve met and said goodbye to a lot of interesting and kind people; you would have liked them I think. I have also been let down by many people and I’ve faced some dangerous situations, but God has been looking after me.
Sometimes He feels distant, but I know He is always by my side. On occasion, He seems silent when I speak to Him. But the one question He always answers immediately is when I ask “Lord, are you taking care of her?” He knows my anxiety at the thought of you being alone or unhappy, and sets my heart at ease.
I turned 18, I turned 21, I turned 23. I became older than you long ago, but you will always be the older sister; you will always be Jie.
And I would not be where I am today without you.
You who believed unfailingly in my talent and intelligence even when I did not recognise it myself. You who had an absolute but quiet confidence that I could be whatever I wanted to be. You who started me studying French and Chinese- I’m still not fluent in either language, but I’m getting there slowly.
You who taught the awkward and excessively loud me how to be more considerate and socially aware like the charming and likeable you. You who taught me how to be a good friend, to show love in thoughtful and practical ways. You who taught me how to talk to children (I’m only marginally better than the time you came home to me and the child I was babysitting, both sitting on the floor in tears. But I’m learning slowly) and to the elderly.
You who showed me how to be cautiously adventurous. You who taught me how to be a sweetheart but also a lady and also a boisterous tomboy who wasn’t afraid of getting their hands dirty. You who taught me that it was ok to be different, and it was ok to honestly show your emotions.
You who loved the Lord with a deep and real faith despite whatever hardships or suffering we faced.
I have many close friends and people who have been very kind to me, both male and female. A few have remarked quite early in our acquaintanceship that “you seem like someone who grew up being well-loved.” It is true. I’m thankful to have been shown so much love, and it brings me so much joy to go on to share that with others.
But I have never had a best friend like you. I don’t think I ever will, and I think that’s natural.
2019 especially has been a big year with lots of change. And this year was the only time since we first said goodbye that I truly and deeply wished “If only Rebecca had never gone away. If only she could come back and by my side.” I would have really valued your wisdom and kindness, the unconditional way you always loved and accepted me. But I do not despair. It is this very love and wisdom and grace that even now shapes who I am in adulthood, though it has been many years since then.
Jie, I’m a lot more grown-up than when you last saw me, but in many ways I’m still the same little broken-hearted sixteen year old baby that you left behind. I’ll continue to grow, to love wholeheartedly and to do my best. Everything good in my life, we experienced together, we achieved it together, Jie.
And I’ll continue to grow, to love wholeheartedly and to do my best, Jie, up until the day I die. I just pray that you will still recognise me even when I am that old. No matter how old I get or where my life leads me, I’ll always be your baby sister. And I’ll always love you; that is one of the few sure things in this world.
Happy birthday, my dearest beloved one. Until we next meet again.