I had a dream.
I thought the dream I had held on to all my life was going to be fulfilled in a matter of time.
All I wanted was to settle down, build a family and be the best mother I can ever be to my kids. Carry them in my arms, watch them grow up and be there for them.
I had built this dream upon a man. The relationship was stable and we were doing okay financially. I thought he was the man I was going to marry. That gave me enough excuses to do one thing that led to another.
The wake-up call came one day after I had missed my period. It was just as I had suspected. That was the first time I saw fear in his eyes. I was scared too.
Life became one of darkness and intense pain, of guilt and shame, of a dark secret that most people did not know about…
A part of me died with the child. Instead of being the best mother I could ever be, I turned out to be the worst, choosing to hurt my unborn child and deprive him of a chance at life. The man whom I thought would walk this journey with me was also gone.
For the first time in my life, I saw how wretched I was. All along, I thought I was a generally good person, but now, I felt that even if I were to die a million times over, I could never redeem myself from the sins I had committed.
Time heals, they say. For me, that was a lie, for my pain was not alleviated a least bit after so long. After a year and a half of crying myself to sleep almost every night, it hit me one night that there was absolutely no way I could walk out of the darkness alone. A year and a half of hopelessness, guilt, shame, bitterness and pain was more than I could bear. That night, I finally recognised I needed help, and this became the turning point in my grief.
I decided to reach out for help, and I started by walking back into church where I was swiftly surrounded by people who loved me. Part of my healing journey involved letting go of the anger and bitterness that had been simmering inside me for some years. As I received forgiveness from God, I also learnt to forgive myself. Deep down, I had always desired to know where my child was. In my faith, I found the assurance that my child was in a safe and happy place. Because of that, I could finally let go and find proper closure.
In 2015 when I was travelling in New Zealand, I came across the Buttons Project, started by Peter and Marina in 2001. The idea of sending in buttons as a memorial to my unborn child strongly resonated with me. In Marina’s words, “Through my own abortion experience, I have come to realise many women feel the same – that it can be difficult to gain any sense of closure. There is no grave to visit, no tangible way of remembering. Until now.”
I felt the same way she did. We need a tangible way of remembering.
Seeing the thousands of buttons Marina received over the years made me realise that there are many out there who have been through the same loss and grief as I did. “If only Buttons Project was in Singapore during my darkest days, when I was suffering in silence all alone, it would have helped and comforted me a lot”, I thought to myself.
It is my hope that by bringing this project to Singapore, women in the same situation will know they are not alone in this struggle, and thus find the strength to take steps towards healing.