Brief Hugs and Goodbyes

The past fortnight had been packed and poignant. My son Matthew and his family has flown for a work stint in Arizona. About a week later, my daughter, Elaine, flew back to Washington D.C. On both occasions, there was an unusual atmosphere because our goodbyes were short of fifteen minutes, at the drop off point of the Departure Hall of Terminal One, Changi International Airport. The airport was empty compared to the good old days. No long snacks and chats at a foodcourt in the airport. Brief hugs and goodbyes.

Matthew, his wife Juyoung, and his two children were in Australia for three years and came back two years ago to settle into Singapore life, renovating and living in his HDB apartment. It was wonderful to have them around especially with their two adorable, lovely children. They stayed for a while with us occupying two rooms in our apartment while theirs was being renovated. Then when they moved, they were still living ten minutes drive away from us – a great convenience for us to have time with our grandchildren. Now they have rented out their beautifully done home and we miss them.

My son Joshua came back from studies in London and he and his wife Ping were also staying with us for a while as they searched for an apartment. They hardly did any renovations before moving to their move-in condition HDB apartment. We were happy to have them around even though it was for a short few months. They are now happily living in their apartment near the city centre.

Finally my daughter Elaine came back from US because of Covid-19. All the staff had the option(with their bosses’ approval) of working remotely from their home country. She seized it and it turned out to be a good decision as she stayed with us a good year and a half. We had her with us for the two Singapore “lock downs” and we were happy for the time together knowing it would not be permanent.

When Elaine had been called back I had mixed feelings. I felt sad to miss her but at the same time I was relieved she had to go back, as working in Singapore according to Washington’s work hours played havoc on her body clock, sleep patterns and health.


I look back on the past two years with wistfulness and gratitude. Grateful for the gift of time with my two children and family. Life is unpredictable and transitory, so I realise that all these gifts from God are to be received with gratitude and to be enjoyed and treasured while they lasted. As I reflect on the past two years, I do so with fondness and sad longing, but comforted by the fact that my eldest son Joshua and his wife are still with us. I do not wish to take this for granted for God alone knows what the future holds for them or for us. Grateful for every good gift of time together.

Recently, I had been memorising verses from Ephesians. On the day, when Matthew and his family were doing their swab tests, the verse I memorised was: See then that you walk circumspectly, not as foolish but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17 NKJV). How pertinent and timely! The rooms will be empty but the days need not be empty. With the extra free time, there will be temptations to fill up the time with vanity, and to miss out on understanding the Lord’s will. Since God has created us in Christ Jesus for good works that he prepared beforehand that we should walk in them, I would want to focus on knowing and doing his will.

“Lord, help Jenny and myself to grieve well over what has ended, to be thankful for the new beginnings you have for us. You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Protect us from the temptations and the evil one who seeks to infiltrate our day. Fill us with your comfort, wisdom and energy. Amen.”

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