TL;DR – Bring on the waterworks.
You might have read this post by William Cheah circulating Facebook since 2014 about his son that he hasn’t met for 10 years. (13 years if we date it to 2017)
In the rather long post, Cheah pines for his son that his ex-wife took along to Canada without letting him know, with her new partner following their divorce.
Like all things on social media, the authenticity is questionable, but nonetheless, this tearjerker is still worth a read.
In case you can’t see the text, here’s what it says:
His name is Cheah Joshua. He is now close to 14 years old.
It would have been approximately 10 years to this date when I last saw him. And this is the only photograph I have of him, taken when he was around 3 years old.
I do wonder what he looks like now and whether he is as naughty as I was at this age. That was the age when I had my first girlfriend..haha.
It’s funny how our memories work. When I see a caterpillar, I recall the time when he squished one in his hand and showed it to his kindy teachers and they all ran away squealing. Or when I walk at Gurney Plaza, I recall the time when I had to change his diapers at the diaper room. Sometimes when I drive past Bukit Jambul, I feel so much like driving up to his old kindy and see if the place is still there or if any of the old teachers are there still. Funny how memories are like.
His mum and I married young. One of those things young people do that becomes a mistake due to youth. We had an amicable divorce actually. Even held hands when we were at the court. Funny things that you remember.
After the divorce, I was granted visitation rights but I guess his mum wasn’t very happy with me spending too much time with him. So I usually sneaked to visit him at the kindy every evening at 4pm and spend about 2 hours there before his mum picked him up. I guess I must have been seen as a little weird, an adult playing with a little kid in the garden every evening. But in situations like these, I didn’t mind. It was better than not seeing him. Everytime I went there, he would be at the door, calling out excitedly..daddy daddy in his little man voice. And it became a ritual for me to carry him in my arms and take a walk around the block. Looking at dogs in the area and calling out woo woo, holding him up to reach for the leaves in the low hanging branches. Simple things I remember but I doubt that he does anymore. Nothing special at all actually, but it was all I had, and those memories remain.
Until the day his mum took him out of the school and refused to let me know where his new one was. Sigh..The things people do when they are afraid.
And yes, she was afraid I would get too close with him. She had a new life and a new man then. Someone potentially to be her new life partner. I guess I understand what she wanted. To start over again. Fresh and unburdened. I can accept that.
I guess that is why when she left for Canada with her new partner, she took him along without letting me know. I can understand that too. Her fear that I may object and not allow it to happen. Who knows? I may have…but I think I wouldn’t. It would have been a great opportunity for her and also for him. I just regret I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. Or a chance to have requested for updates..even from a distance.
When I found out..I was full of anger and hatred. Also against our joint lawyer. The one whom I requested for a clause requiring my permission before she could take him overseas. But he persuaded me that it wouldn’t happen. She promised it wouldn’t. So I did not pursue. And over the years…there is no hatred left. Just acceptance. I wish her well. I wish the lawyer well… and hope his firm is now big and successful. And I hope maybe he has learnt from this lesson too.
It’s been 10 years. A decade. Sometimes like a blink of an eye. Some friends asked me why not try look for him. Don’t think I haven’t thought of that countless times. But I wouldn’t want to disrupt his life now. Or hers. She knows where to find me if she wanted to let him know. Penang is really a small place and my family isn’t really that hard to find. I would rather it be on willing terms than in confrontation.
But that doesn’t stop me from searching in weird places sometimes. Like keying his and her name on FB, hoping to see someone familiar. Or even on Google. So far no luck..lol. I wonder what would I do if I actually found it one day. I don’t know.
I have no expectations yet to see him again. Not till he is of legal age. And that’s another 4 years and 3 months to go.
When that day arrives, I guess maybe that’s when I will start hoping that the strange number on my phone will hold a familiar voice. But not now. Not yet.
And I will keep this photo in my wallet till then. As it has been for the last 10 years eventhough my wallets have changed countless times.
Somethings never will.
Like how I hold that choking feeling down sometimes when I see the photo. Or fathers carrying their children in the park. Or caterpillars.
His name is Cheah Joshua. He is my son. That will never change.