What is a parent’s greatest comfort in the face of sudden, devastating loss?
This was the question that Naw Day Day and Peter Wong grappled with when their beloved daughter passed away from a rare disease at the tender age of 5.
They soon came to realise that their greatest comfort was knowing that God had given salvation to their young daughter. “Louise knows the Lord, she knows Jesus,” says Day Day.
In fact, just several months before, the cheerful girl had coloured in a picture of heaven at Sunday School. “The Lord prepared her in advance,” adds Day Day.
Memories like these have helped them to keep going after Louise went home to the Lord more than a year ago.
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It began on January 15, 2020, when Louise complained of chest and bowel pains. She later developed a high fever and started having seizures in the afternoon.
Realising that Louise was severely ill, Day Day called Peter and told him to rush her to hospital. By then, their daughter was drifting in and out of consciousness and losing control of her bowels.
After hours in emergency triage, Louise was moved to the high dependency ward, where Peter and Day Day had their first glimpse of their daughter through the ward door.
It was heart-wrenching for Peter. “It was our first sight of her after hours of anxious waiting,” he says. “She was laid sideways, with her eyelids open, not blinking, like [she was] staring into a lifeless void. Louise looked familiar, yet so unfamiliar.”
At that point, says Peter, he knew his daughter had suffered brain damage. Soon after the doctor briefed them about Louise’s condition, the couple broke down in tears.
Some time later, they were allowed into the ward to visit Louise. “Her body was physically cold to touch and she was attached to the ventilator and vitals monitor,” says Peter. “The sound of the ventilator pumping was extremely out of place next to Louise.”
“She was laid sideways, with her eyelids open, not blinking, like [she was] staring into a lifeless void. Louise looked familiar, yet so unfamiliar.”
The sight of Louise in such a condition was especially painful for Peter because he had also seen his father in a vegetative state before his passing.
“I was quite aware that she likely would not survive,” says Peter. “I asked the Lord to either grant Louise a miraculous recovery or take her to Him. I really didn’t want anything in between. I didn’t want my once-bubbly girl to go through my father’s ordeal. She had such a strong personality that I couldn’t bear to face her in such an undignified vegetative manner.”
Day Day, on the other hand, pleaded with God for “a second chance to be Louise’s mother on earth”.
She says, “I also told Louise that I would take care of her even if she ended up at a vegetative stage. However, if she was struggling very hard, I said I was ready to let her go.”
The following hours were a flurry of emotions—of grief, sadness, hope, and comfort. Some church elders and close friends took turns to stay by their side to support them as they waited for Day Day’s mother to arrive from Myanmar, with her godfather and his family.
Louise, always a bubbly girl
Things were grim the next day. Louise’s condition wasn’t improving, and doctors had to give her constant blood transfusions as she was bleeding out. Her parents had to make a difficult decision—either to resuscitate her if her heartbeat stopped, or to let her pass on peacefully.
“After some struggle, we choose the latter,” says Peter. “Since morning, I already knew that she would not make it—I just somehow knew it. Maybe this was the way the Holy Spirit was preparing me. The past experience of what my father went through gave me some mental preparation.”
In the meantime, he continued to sing songs of praise and worship at his daughter’s bedside.
“I sang to her many times with tears, ‘With Christ in the vessel we can smile in the storm’, which she learnt and performed in church before,” he recalls. “She was really in this very turbulent storm, and I praised her for being brave.
“Since morning, I already knew that she would not make it—I just somehow knew it. Maybe this was the way the Holy Spirit was preparing me.”
“Although she was unconscious, I just talked to her to be prepared to meet the Lord in heaven. I told her that she need not suffer anymore, that she would gain wisdom beyond our earthly selves, and that she would get to meet and play with the apostles that she once learnt about in Sunday School.
“Somehow, it was also a way of comforting myself, reminding myself of the better heavenly place beyond this physical life.”
In the early hours of January 17, Louise’s vital signs flatlined and she went home to the Lord.
To make matters worse, Luke, the couple’s second child, had also been hospitalised for preventative observation in case Louise’s condition was infectious. Day Day herself was warded in another hospital at the same time as she had tested positive for the H1N1 virus.
Louise and Luke singing along with her favourite song
After Day Day and Luke were discharged, the couple started preparing for Louise’s funeral, which had been postponed while Day Day and Luke were still in hospital. Peter recalls his mixed emotions seeing Louise arrive home.
“The first sight of her was somewhat comforting because she had finally come back home, adorned with her favourite white dress and tiara set, but I was saddened that she was back home lifeless,” he says.
At the wake, they displayed photos of Louise on a slideshow, with Celine Dion’s rendition of “What A Wonderful World” playing in the background.
“It was odd for her age, but Louise took a liking to Louis Armstrong’s classic song,” says Peter. “It was how she perceived the world—wonderfully, innocently, and happily, just like the song’s lyrics.”
“Louise was a brave girl. She fought her last battle courageously. She went to God, to be with Him.”
Although Luke’s and her own hospitalisation had delayed the funeral, Day Day believes that this was how God was giving her much-needed rest. Joshua 1:9 kept her going: “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“It applied to Louise and us,” she says. “Louise was a brave girl. She fought her last battle courageously. She went to God, to be with Him. God promised us that He would be with us wherever we go. And He is with us in this journey of faith.”
The verse was inscribed at Louise’s final resting place.
Louise and Luke
A Glimpse of God’s Heart
More than a year later, Day Day and Peter continue to grieve Louise’s loss.
“We still miss her a lot,” says Peter, who cried almost daily in the first few months after their bereavement. “Although life goes on, there is always this missing and longing that just won’t go away.”
But he adds that the ordeal gave him a revelation about God’s own heart and the pain and agony He must have felt when His Son was put on the cross to die.
“Although as Christians we are aware that God loves us and gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins, it sometimes becomes just a biblical truth and fact,” he says. “But now, I got to somehow relate to God’s feelings in the moments when Jesus was on the path of Calvary—I got a first-person perspective of the agony of seeing one’s own child dying.”
“I got to somehow relate to God’s feelings in the moments when Jesus was on the path of Calvary—I got a first-person perspective of the agony of seeing one’s own child dying.”
“It is a priceless and burdened privilege for me to have this personal perspective,” he says. “I still don’t fully understand God’s love, but after Louise’s death, I felt the depth of God’s real and personable love for us. I could relate it to how much I loved dear Louise.”
While Peter knows that “there will likely be no complete answers” for those in his and Day Day’s situation, he continues to find great comfort in these assurances of God’s compassion and hope in the Bible:
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly
bring affliction or grief to anyone.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith
produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
For Day Day, the hardest part was not her unanswered prayer for Louise to be healed. Rather, it was the torment and guilt from wondering if she should have taken Louise to the hospital sooner. She kept asking herself if she could have done more to save her child.
“I was angry with myself . . . That was the most painful,” says Day Day.
It took some time for Day Day to stop blaming herself, after Peter and her godmother rallied around her and reminded her of God’s goodness.
Later, she learnt that God had spared Louise from further suffering. Louise was eventually diagnosed with acute necrotising encephalopathy of childhood, a rare neurologic disease which was likely to have been a complication caused by a H1N1 infection. According to the paediatric specialist, none of the other three children she had seen with this rare disease had survived.
Statistics also show that most sufferers experience rapid neurologic decline and eventually pass away. Those who survive usually need life support for the rest of their lives.
Day Day, Louise, and Luke on a flight
Holding On and Moving On In Faith
Today, Day Day and Peter continue to take baby steps as they forge new memories with Luke while holding on to happy memories of Louise.
What helps Day Day is the thought that God had given Louise to them as a gift, blessing them with her infectious laughter for five years and giving Luke a sibling to grow up with. Louise’s birth had itself been a miracle—when she was born, her heartbeat was irregular and the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. It had taken an emergency operation to save both mother and child.
Peter feels the same. Louise had been a joyful addition to the newly married couple’s life, he says, although her arrival had been a surprise. His fondest memories are “taking Louise to the playground, pushing her as hard as I could on the swing . . . and tickling her when she asked for it”.
“God knows what I am going through.”
Their faith in God has pulled them through the darkest moments, and His strength, compassion, and comfort continue to anchor them. “God knows what I am going through,” says Day Day simply.
Peter draws strength from his conviction that God had never promised him a life without suffering. “Each one goes through a unique journey in life and our faith will be tested during this journey,” he says.
Both continue to share Louise’s story—even through sorrow—as they hope to glorify God and encourage others to cherish their families, knowing that life can involve unexpected twists.
Most importantly, they stress the urgency of letting the little ones know God personally.
“It is never too late to introduce Christ into a child’s life,” says Peter. “This seed is extremely important and will carry them throughout their lives.”
This article was originally published in ymi.today
Extracted and adapted with further input from Peter and Day Day.