Rolling the clock backward and forward this year, I see many "hellos and good-byes."  This has been the year of new experiences for me.

Fei came home last year for Christmas and stayed over the new year. It was good to have her home for the holidays from BYU-Hawaii. Incidentally, our very good friends from Hawaii, Thee See Bah and his family, came calling and our two families meandered our way to the Elephant Sanctuary deep in the rain forest in Pahang.  The thrill of riding on an elephant's bare and prickly back set off the string of new experiences that were to follow throughout the year.

Being a Chinese, I celebrate two new years. The Lunar New Year's eve was spent at my eldest brother's home in Singapore. The aroma of steamboat and chicken rice put me right at home with my past. The traditional pineapple tarts my sister-in-law baked put mine to shame! I soaked myself in the love of family ties as I visited with all my siblings and their children and grand children. (Yes, I have grand nieces and nephews!)

The small diamond kites I made with my Young  Women took off for the sky in a windy kite park at Kepong. However, to get the thrill of seeing a huge kite fly high into the sky, we bought a couple of big kites and enjoyed the rest of the evening. It was the New Beginning for the Young Women and held so much significance for me. As the year unfold, I found myself having  many new beginnings which were like jewels for me.

I step foot for the first time in Kota Kinabalu, in the state of Sabah in East Malaysia on the Boneo Island. Thanks to the gymnastics competetion which Su and Shuan represented as part of the Kuala Lumpur team. I fell in love with the place and was thrilled to experience the beautiful beach and corals that many paid thousands to come and see. One day, I shall return to experience Mount Kinabalu, I promised myself.

My final thesis project for my Diploma of Fine Arts (Interior Design) course was on Memory Construction--An Added Layer Over Adaptive Reuse. The fantasy of converting a row of dilapidated pre-world war II Art Deco terrace house in Kuala Lumpur put me in a world of dreams and passion for the past. And it took me a long time to realise that the project was not "real"! Well, as I awaken from my dreams, I found myself saying goodbyes to friends whom I have made during the past three years on the course. Looking back, I have gained many employerable skills in the field of design and I was almost ready to go to work.

Life took an interesting turn as Sun Fu's contract with Morinda ended in mid July this year. Re-strategizing in his career saw myself saying goodbye to him at the KLIA airport on 22 September. However, before that, our family took a few days off to visit a new place to the north of peninsular Malaysia.(Another new experience for me) The beach in Songkhla did not come close to that of Kota Kinabalu but everyone enjoyed the shopping and food in Hadyai. It was our special family trip of the year in preparation for the separation that would take place soon.

The goodbye at KLIA sent me driving home alone to become a single mother for the next couple of months. To make it more challenging, I began my 3-months internship in November, with the famed T.R. Hamzah and Yeang, an architectural practice that is known for its bioclimatic buildings. I count myself blessed as I have two daughters with me who could almost subsitute me in my maternal duties. The job experience open up many new horizons for me and I enjoyed the missionaries experiences that creep up every now and then.

Today, I have Sun Fu by my side as I type this into the computer. My six children are doing their own things around the house. In a few days' time, I will again be at the airport, saying goodbyes to my two daughters, Fei and Su. The prospect of being without them and having four sons by my side made me cry tears that I wish would become a "river that leads to the ocean" that bring me to them in the beautiful island of Hawaii. I will indeed miss them and could wish nothing but the only best for them.

What will be in store next year, I cannot predict. But there are things that we plan to make them happen . Sun Fu will be away more then before due to the new direction he is taking in his career. I will be with my four boys, Han (13), Shuan (11), Ern(8) and Ray(6). A brand new phase in my life. I look forward to the new year with great anticipation. May  yours be as exciting as you want it to be!

Somewhere along the road, hopefully you become one of those whom I say "HELLO" to. And that we can construct some beautiful memories together!

Geoklee (24 Dec 2003)