This trip was made possible by my beloved niece

Filed in Personal

I told myself I must take some pictures of Mortimer to show Wien Yue, my niece. Then I remembered – Wien Yue is no longer with us, she left us on Friday, 31 March 2006. At 5:26 p.m., to be exact.


Tang Wien Yue
22 May 1985 – 31 March 2006

She’d been diagnosed with leukemia in July 2002, had a bone marrow transplant in June 2004, and while her body never totally rejected the donor marrow, it didn’t really settle in her body either. She had a leukemia related condition, something called Guest vs Host Disease (GVHD). In her case, the GVHD affected her lungs.

The GVHD worsened in recent weeks. She was admitted in mid February and never returned home after that.

Her parents and brother were at her side when she died. I was, too, as was her cousin Angela. Except for my brother who was in Vietnam at the time, two cousins in Singapore and another two in the States, all her aunts, other uncle and cousins got to see her before she left. My brother and her two Singapore cousins later returned for the funeral.

Just the evening before, she was so well and sitting up in bed. Her mother asked me when I was leaving for London. I replied and then looked at Wien Yue, saying “You want me to get you some candy, right?” She nodded and her mother said “soft chewy candy.”

When Wien Yue’s condition worsened recently, I told myself I would cancel my trip at a word from my sister. Somehow, I knew she wouldn’t ask that of me, but I knew I wouldn’t enjoy my trip if Wien Yue remained unwell and in the hospital. I waited day by day and knew I would cancel even if hours from the flight. I never had to. She left on the last day of March in the year 2006, and made it possible for me to be here in London right now.

Wien Yue was only 20, about 6 weeks shy of her 21st birthday. Oh my precious darling niece.

(I couldn’t post this earlier because one of her cousins in the States was travelling and the family decided not to tell her until she returned. I know Mei sometimes reads my weblog and I didn’t want her to find out from here instead of from her mother. I’m sorry, Mei.)