It’s ten minutes to four in the morning. I woke up from a dream a little earlier. I dreamt that I saw her in somebody else’s house. She was being taken care by another babysitter. She was wearing a long, purple dress I have never seen her wear and she was sitting at the porch of the babysitter’s house. The new babysitter has a white, large, shaggy dog but she’s not afraid of it. When I called her from the gate, she came up to me, she remembered me. The babysitter wasn’t alarmed when I spoke to her because she remembered me. She said in Mandarin (even though in reality I don’t understand Mandarin) that I used to walk with her all the way from my house just to see the dog because she likes it. (This is not true, but I dreamt it.)
Then the dream shifted and it was a Saturday morning. It was Saturday because M was about to go to the hypermarket for her weekly grocery shopping. Just as she was about to leave, she came. Her mother’s car stopped in front of our house – apparently the new babysitter couldn’t take care of her on this particular Saturday and the mother had nowhere else to place her. And M started making snide remarks about how she left so quickly and now she has to come back here again because no one could take care of her the way we did.
I was just too happy that she was back again, even for just one day. I insisted that she should stay the whole Saturday instead of just until lunch, as was the norm when she was still with us. I wanted to take her to Petrosains.
And then I woke up.
It’s been 3 months since she left us. Has it been that long? Staying in Macau for one month felt even longer than her leaving us. It feels as though she just left us a few weeks ago. I still remember her so clearly; maybe that’s because her photos have been my computer’s wallpaper from the day she left. I remember the phrases she used to utter.
“Jie jie, kai kai!” (Big sister, I want to go out!) (It was our ritual that we go to McDonald’s every Saturday morning and she knows when is Saturday.)
“Jie jie, I want go Macau!” (That’s what she always says to me on the phone when I called home from Macau.)
“Jie jie, I want see Chenchanched.” (She got hooked on to the movie Enchanted when I bought the VCD.)
I miss her from the day she left, but I never cried. Today, I cried as if she died. And in a way, she is like dead – I have never seen her or spoken to her since the last day in July. We have heard news, rumours about her. But she’s not our child, never has been ours, and we don’t have any right to seek after her, even if it’s for just one more day.
My family is hurt by the way she was taken away from us. M has taken care of many babies, they all came and went eventually. But they gave us time for the news, at least a month usually. They gave us time to accept that soon, we’ll no longer see them, so it is up to us of how we make use of the time we have left with them. We were not given this time with her, and it hurts all of us, even M who used to get so angry at the way she behaved sometimes.
Loud sobs in the silence and darkness of the night.
I miss you, Li Wen, but like so many people I have to let go in this year, I have to let you go too. I have to change my wallpaper now.
She was the closest I had to my own daughter. I was so proud of her. I love her so much. Her happiness was mine. Now her happiness is someone else’s happiness.
I wanted to tell someone about this, but nobody would understand. My blog is the only place left.
(In case you’re confused: no, she is not dead.)