Editor's Note: This is a special story, a brief encounter and it moved me how she opened up to share her life story. At almost 60, she is still working today and she still remembers that first day when she had to take the plunge to start earning for her family. I don't think my translations do her story justice, but if anything, I hope this story inspires many who find themselves searching for courage to move on or start anew.
We were married for over twenty years. He was the breadwinner of our family, a fisherman for as long as I had known him. The sea was his playfield, sometimes he would brave the deep sea for two weeks before returning home.
One day, he complained of feeling very fatigue and the doctor diagnosed him with asthma. Weeks went by and his condition did not improve so we went to the hospital uptown. The doctor there said many things, but these lines I remember most, "Your husband has lung cancer. He has 40 days to live.”
My husband took everything in his stride - not once did I hear him complaint of his sudden and rapid health deterioration. Through it all he remained the calm and brave fisherman that I knew thirty years ago
He passed away 44 days later, and for the longest time I did not know how to live my life, what more to provide for our children.
I started cooking and selling food around the village. Mee goring, ice cream batang, all sorts of kuihs - I took as many orders as I could. Some nights I slept for two hours a day to make ends meet. Those days in my life seem to pass by in a blur. There was no option to give up. Earning money to provide food on the table and for the kids education were my only agenda.
That was 12 years ago and yet, I still remember my husband like he was here just yesterday. Today, I see our children thriving in their own fields and it gives me a warm feeling inside to know that my late husband would have been proud of our kids, too.