When Jake Seet, 33, was conducting underwater operation on May 5 near Sentosa, he went missing and his body was found two days later off the coast of Sentosa.
He left behind his wife, Joycelyn, 34, and two sons, Justin, 6, and Jareth, 3, and Joycelyn recently gave birth to their baby girl, Jewel.
Joycelyn, a teaching assistant at an Australian school here, admitted to this: "The toughest period was after my delivery, when I was in a two-bed ward."
She added: "The husband of the patient beside me was always by her side, so I would feel extremely lonely seeing them. The word "husband" has become a knife to my heart."
Nevertheless, Joycelyn felt her husband's presence during her pregnancy in this assuring words: "Jake very much wanted to see his daughter. He told me she will be the most beautiful girl in the world."
Lesson? There are three here.
1) The anonymous good Samaritans in our crossroad.
Joycelyn said: "We are touched and grateful to the public for their support, (and) how complete strangers can step up to offer their assistance."
It reports in the papers (by Lucas Wong) that "grateful donors...contributed almost $260,000 to (Joycelyn's) family via Give.asia...The targeted amount is $300,000."
2) The paradox of joy and pain in our life.
Earlier, Joycelyn admitted that the word "husband" has become a knife to her heart. Yet, the birth of Jewel gave hope to Joycelyn and her two boys.
As she looked at Jewel, she saw Jake in her beautiful girl. "The left side of Jewel's ear is sharp while her right ear is more rounded, just like her dad."
Truly, nothing could compare to the presence of Jake in the three kids' life, but even in sorrow, there is always hope and growth in a new life.
3) We fathers never left.
Joycelyn plans to "make a pendant to hold a picture of (Jake) on one side and Jewel on the other" and to give it to Jewel when she is older.
At times, Joycelyn would play voice recordings of Jake to her kids.
In one of them, their father said: "Good morning Jareth, good morning Justin, good morning morning mummy. I love you. I miss you guys. I will be back soon, okay? Be good."
The sad thing about such poignant occasion is that Jareth (3 yrs) is still unaware that his father is no longer with them and Jareth would reply: "Okay daddy."
Joycelyn said that when Jewel was born, her first words to her were: "Daddy would love to see you. Even though daddy's not around and you can't see him, he will always be by your side. He is your guardian angel."
I put these three lessons together in one go because they represent the timeless encouragement for those going through grief and pain.
I believe that you can't fully experience the beauty of humanity without embracing in your heart the assurance that there is always a community out there that truly cares.
It may come in a form of financial aid, a word of prayer or a silent caregiver in your midst to tend to your needs while you grieve.
But they are there, connected by the bond of humanity, like Job's friends who sat with him for days in quietude as he moaned in sorrow.
Then, there is the birth of a new life and the hope she brings. In other words, there are the endearing lives that the loved one leaves behind. And again, they are always there to remind you of what is worth living for.
At such time when it truly counts, the strength for today and the hope for tomorrow come mainly from things relational and seldom from things material.
No doubt, the bills still have to be paid. But if the heart finds no reason to go on, what further obligation does one have to the earthly debts one owes?
Lastly, there is the life that once lived. I believe that love is demysfied in one's passing. It is made clearer as the memories are treasured even more. The shed tears unveil the full picture of what is dearly missed.
Nothing about our loss thereafter is taken for granted. As such, he or she may be gone, but everything about him or her lives on.
As Joycelyn said to Jewel: "Daddy would love to see you. Even though daddy's not around and you can't see him, he will always be by your side. He is your guardian angel."
Indeed, in the same way that you can't separate love from a grieving heart, you can't separate hope, intimacy, and the joy once shared together either.
They will always be close by, breathing life to life, strengthening bonds, nudging us forward and yielding a bittersweet warmness to our heart that persists to glow undimmed in the darkest of nights.
In other words, they have become our undying guardian angels. Cheerz.