I never knew her. All I knew of her was her name, age and when she was admitted into the Infectious Diseases Unit. She came in on 8th August 2009, 2 days after my dad. They were in opposite negative-pressured rooms, in an environment anal about hygiene, wearing masks and gloves, and sanitizing one’s hands. Which is good sense when dealing with people with infectious diseases. I would put on my N95 mask over a three-ply blue mask, tie my hair up into a bun and fold a shower cap over, put on a plastic apron over my clothes, pull on surgical latex gloves over my hands. Then I would walk over to Daddy’s room, quietly slip in and stand beside his bed, taking his swollen cold hand into mine. My routine was to start with a prayer first, for Daddy- and I would kneel down on the floor with his hand in mine to say a silent prayer.
When I was finished visiting with him, everything was discarded into a waste bin- apron, shower cap, gloves, the N95 mask. Hands meticulously washed and scrubbed until my skin chaffed. When I left the room, I would see her, a small figure curled up in her bed, in the opposite room. Like my dad, she was hooked onto a ventilator and was in isolation. Each day, I said a silent prayer for her, too, that she would recover from the disease as well.
For those few days, I would glimpse her parents and members of her family. We would sit huddled together in a small room cordoned off by pink curtains, apparently only for doctors and staff nurses. There was very little talk. The atmosphere was clinical and very quiet. But we kept vigil together. We acknowledged each other with sad smiles. I wondered how she had fallen ill to the disease- and perhaps they would have wondered the same about my dad.
Yesterday, her room was cleared out when I was there. I immediately thought, wonderful, she has recovered! So I asked the staff nurse where she had been taken to. And the nurse broke the news to me. I felt the tears spring to my eyes. Tears for a stranger, someone I never knew. Tears for a young girl taken away from her parents, from Earth, at the prime of her life. I cried for her family. I cried for her. I didn’t know why- I didn’t know her.
I never knew you, Victoria Low Sui Yin. I have never seen your face before. But I hope that you’re in a happier, more peaceful place now where you are no longer in pain, no longer suffering. I am deeply sorry, and I hope your family will find strength in each other during this time- I know you will be remembered by all the people whose lives you have touched. I truly wish you all the best and I hope that by now, you are calmly resting in the palm of God’s hands.
Rest in peace, Victoria.