J for Jampulets

Dear friends, my beloved J died 20 February 2019. He struggled in the past month with anxiety and depression. While he received help from doctors and therapists, and so many of us spent time with him making sure he never felt alone, in the deep fog of his illness he left us.

He was loved by God and he knew he needed Jesus. Even as he struggled, he clung to God. Please be comforted, as I am comforted and confident, that in God’s goodness, grace and mercy, J is rescued and redeemed, and is now safe in God’s heavenly arms!

(*My apologies and an important note*: An important note if you are a relative or somehow connected to his family: please do not let the news get to J’s aged father or any of his elderly relatives. Please be considerate to his siblings and leave them to handle this tough news. Thank you.)

An ampulets celebration!
I would like to share some thoughts about J to celebrate this wonderful person who is my bestest and favouritest everything, every single day we have been together the past 18 years. We enjoyed a strong and I think special bond. I am so blessed to have shared the moniker of “ampulets 安普樂” with him, and will endeavour to keep this special something we made and will continue to make.

One thing everyone who knows J well will say is that J was very well loved. Whenever he asked me to describe him, as couples often do in their irritatingly self-indulgent way, i would always say first, that he is funny and furry; then, that I am amazed by the many good friends he has and how he is so loved.

Why was J so loved? Mostly because he has a big heart.

He received and gave love generously. I first got to know J almost 20 years ago at a difficult time in his life. His then-wife had wanted to leave him for another man, and I was shocked by how he forgave her so freely even though he was so deeply hurt. I wouldn’t have been so generous! Few of us would have been.

If you went out anywhere with J, you would have experienced bumping into someone else who knows him - at the traffic light, at the market, along the jogging path, at the MRT station, the most random places. Old aunties, uncles, very young people, arty people, designer-type people and very Singaporean-type people. When he saw someone in the distance whom he might know, an old army friend or a secondary school mate, instead of turning away to avoid contact (which is what many of us would do), he would go up and connect with that person. He didn’t see the need to be shy about this. In fact, he welcomed such connections and whatever these encounters brought to him and others.

He kept his friends close to him and always made time to ask how are you and ask to meet. He wasn’t one of those friends you don’t hear from for months. He did not take the people around him for granted and was constantly thoughtful about others. For example, he always made it a point to tell my mom how much he enjoyed her food, not because he wanted to “sa-ka” his mother-in-law, but because he saw how much love she put into it and how much she needed and deserved that encouragement when most of us would take the food for granted. So if he met you and he saw you wearing something nice, he would say it. If he came across a talented young person, he would want to support their work. I think he lived with no regrets when it came to expressing his encouragement and love, and I should know - every day, he did not hold back from showing his love to me in the most practical, silly or fantastic ways. And I, him. He was that easy to love.

J did not just have a big heart, he had a good heart, a kind heart.

If we ever saw a blind or old person needing help, and believe me there are lots of old people in Toa Payoh, I would just say “J, go help” and he would, without thinking. In fact, he would often notice someone in need first, and required very little prompting for any small kind act - whether it is to offer to carry someone’s bag up the stairs or down the bus, or stay with someone looking unwell until all was good. He was more than an hour late once meeting me because he was helping a supposedly blind man who was seemingly lost in Orchard Road find his way around, make contact with his friends and even repair his glasses! Ended up that was a con-man who managed to swindle $50 from J. Whatever little acts of kindness he gave to strangers, he was more than ready to extend that help to friends and family. If he said “no” to any of you, please know that he would have struggled for a long time before he gave that reply.

He could empathise and help others, because he not only had a big, good heart, but because he had a broken heart.

He held many worries and a deep desire for perfection and beauty. He held himself but also others close to him to high standards. He wanted always to do the right thing, and he wanted always to love me perfectly. When I underwent the surgeries late 2018, the fear of losing me and the strains of caregiving broke something in him. He saw his own brokenness, sometimes too clearly. With friends, as with some of you, he never hid his vulnerabilities. And because he was always honest and real, many opened themselves up to him as well. In his troubles or plain ol’ grumpiness, many of you have been a source of great comfort, understanding and joy to him. He appreciated your goodness and held them close, next to the worries and up there with his ideas of perfection.

And because he had a broken heart, he knew he needed Christ, who was God’s perfect son. Particularly during the last months of 2018 when I was in hospital, he experienced personally and very deeply how God loved and provided for us. I was happy that there was this one good thing that came out of that stressful time for him - J clung to God daily.

There is so much goodness to remember of J’s life. I wish there were more years of his life for me to experience. But that would be greedy and now, an impossible ask. Us amps praise God for all the goodness there has been!

A request
I would much prefer that you do not send me messages or leave comments although I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I only ask that if you know anyone who is suffering from anxiety, depression or even a very bumpy patch in life, please be kind. I know that while such emotional turmoil and mental illness are invisible afflictions, they are far harder than anything I can imagine.

If you have ever lost someone to depression or anxiety, do not stand accused. Instead, know that you have done whatever you can in love.

If you ever have had such dark thoughts, please reach out early to people around you, counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, SOS ... Do not hesitate. However impossible it feels in our foggiest darkest moments, it is not. We can be and are often helpless, any and all of us, but we need not be without hope.


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