Brittle Bones Won’t Break Me

‘Fragile doll, do not touch!’ That was the identity given to me at birth by the hospital staff. I was born making cries of pain that came mostly from broken bones. My bones would break at the slightest ‘wrong’ touch. I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), in layman’s term, ‘brittle bones’ which led to the need for countless surgeries on my femurs between the ages of seven to nineteen years old. The vicious cycle of falling down, undergoing surgeries, learning to walk and falling down again drained me mentally, physically and emotionally. I lived in fear and anguish. My mother was my main caregiver and we shared an enmeshed relationship. She was my world.

When I was doing my GCE ‘A’ Levels, my mother died of kidney cancer. I had thought all along that she had a benign tumour and would be alright after surgery. But my mother had told our family members to hide her condition from me because I was having all-important examinations. Her dream was for me to go to university, get a job and support myself. The day before her death, after visiting her in the hospital, I even went to watch a movie with my friend. In the hospital, I saw her lying in a pool of blood, with tears at the corner of her eyes. She died alone, with no one at her side.

Death mocked at me. My greatest regret was that I never got to say goodbye and thank you to my mother, the one who loved me most. Filled with guilt and angry with my own naivety at not being able to detect that my mother was on the brink of death, I identified with C S Lewis’ statement, “The death of a beloved is an amputation.” One part of me died with her. I wanted to kill myself, thinking that by dying, I would be ‘reunited’ with her, somewhere out there. However I had no choice but to continue with the remaining examinations to fulfil her dream, and managed to go on to study Social Work and Chinese Language in the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Home, however, became merely a house after my mother’s death. My father remarried a lady younger than me, even though I was the youngest of my siblings. I did not know how to address her. When she became pregnant andmy siblings got married, I felt trapped. Was I supposed to take care of my three step-siblings since I was still single? I could not comprehend why my father would want to have more children when he was so old. Eventually I left home and started to rent a room in a different house. Depression and panic attacks set in. I questioned the meaning of life. Life became a process of training myself to be a ‘super-woman’, my fiercely independent facade hiding a broken heart within. Later, I was given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder which I struggled to accept. Wasn’t it  enough that I had brittle bones and had lost my beloved mother to cancer? Now I had to accept that something was wrong with my brain. When would all this end?

Feeling hopeless, I tried to throw myself in front of passing traffic but did not realise I had chosen a deserted road. Furious, I went home and swallowed half a bottle of Lithium tablets. But even as I tried to swallow, I vomited and suddenly realised I did not want to die – I just did not know what to do with my life. My brother’s girlfriend brought me to the hospital for treatment. There, in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), I saw tears in the eyes of my family members. I had always thought they did not love me because only my mother had given me unconditional love, and it dawned on me that this life is not my own.

A few years later, my first niece was born and further hope arose in me, reminding me that there is life after death. I decided that I could not be an irresponsible aunt to my dear niece. Medication helped to stabilise my emotions but I still did not know what I was living for.

In 2006, I attended the Christian wake of my good friend’s grandmother. As the pastor spoke about how we surrender the dead into God’s everlasting arms, I cried so incessantly I would not be surprised if people misunderstood that I was the deceased’s granddaughter. I never knew that death could be so peaceful, totally unlike the non-Christian wake of my mother. Subsequently this good friend invited me to church and I went, feeling that I had nothing to lose. Initially church was like a social club to me. God slowly revealed Himself to me through His songs, through my psychiatrist, through a miracle home and through the love of His people. I finally said ‘yes’ to God in the midst of a panic attack! To invite an Almighty God into my mind, heart, soul and body was overwhelming. Now I have a King to take control of my messy life!

I am now ten years in Christ. It has been a long and fruitful journey – a lot of dying to self and living for Christ. It is only when my mind is focused on the word of God that I can live victoriously. God is the treasure that I received in faith and will not give away. Last year, I started writing my life story with the exhortation for all of us to be involved with what is happening in our society. Because I was given a second chance at life, I am immensely pro-life. I believe that without a physical life, we cannot lay hold of eternal life. I thank God for preserving my life so that I can refresh and comfort others with the comfort He has given me. The joy of the Lord will always be my strength.

Serene Ho is currently a private educator, imparting life skills to students to help them grow beyond academic results. She loves to swim, read and write. She enjoys being close to nature as it declares the glory of God.

* “Brittle Bones Won’t Break Me” was first published in the Jun/Jul 2017 issue of Impact magazine. Reprinted with permission.

WHAT'S ON IN COOS

Events on August 24, 2019

9:00 am: Korean Style Bouquet Workshop

Annyeong! Come join us for a fun DIY Korean-styled Bouquet Workshop. We will be using fresh flowers to create a korean-style wrapped bouquet. All materials and tools will be provided.

It cost $80 per participant, or $150 for 2 pax if you are bringing a friend.
As sharp tools will be used, the workshop is suitable for participants 12 years and older.

Dates: 24 & 25 August 2019
Time: 9am to 11.30am (24 Aug), Room 302
1.30pm to 4.00pm (25 Aug), Room 201
Location: Room 302
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9:30 am: An Overview of the OT (Session 2 of 4)

An Overview of the Old Testament
For more information, visit https://www.coos.org.sg/church-life/christian-education/
Location: Room 217
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2:30 pm: English Service : Pastor Mark Tho speaking

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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4:00 pm: COOSkidz Birthday Party - Robot

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4:30 pm: Youth Service : Guest speaker Max Jeganathan

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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5:00 pm: Waggy Walk with Your Furkids!'

Calling out to all COOS members who own a pet dog/s to join us in this gathering to walk our dogs which will take place on the 4th Saturday of each month. Invite your friends and neighbors so that we can also promote bonding which each other! Meeting point and ending point at COOS Plaza. We will be walking along the Alexander Canal for our first walk on 24/8/19. Register through this link and QR code.
Location: Meeting point and end point in COOS Plaza
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Events on August 25, 2019

8:30 am: English Service : Pastor Mark Tho speaking

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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10:45 am: English Service : Pastor Mark Tho speaking

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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Events on August 29, 2019

7:30 pm: Choir Performance

Location: Church of Our Saviour, 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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Events on August 31, 2019

9:30 am: An Overview of the OT (Session 3 of 4)

An Overview of the Old Testament
For more information, visit https://www.coos.org.sg/church-life/christian-education/
Location: Room 217
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2:30 pm: English Service : Pastor Joseph You speaking [Holy Communion]

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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3:00 pm: Flea Market

Volunteers needed for outreach initiatives to our community for the Flea Market! Gather your family, church friends or cell members, go into our neighborhoods (Stirling, Dawson and Mei Ling) at your own time and invite the residents for the flea market event on 31/8 and 1/9. Every flyer has a $10 value coupon attached so that they can exchange for the items at the flea market! Contact Tan Choong Meng at 81235996 for any enquiry.
Location: Atrium
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3:00 pm: Flea Market

Looking for volunteers to set up booths to run a flea market in COOS! Gather a few friends or cell members, collect unused clothes and accessories, mend a stall at the atrium. Proceed of the sales will go towards the Geylang Ministry in COOS! If you are interested, please register at the admin counter or at this google link. Contact Tan Choon Meng at 81235996 for more information.
Location: Atrium
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4:00 pm: Alpha Parenting Teenagers Course

A course for parents with children from 11 - 18 years old. It equips carers of children with strategies and tools in building a healthy family life. It is relevant for people of all faith.

Date: 31 Aug, 7, 14, 21, 28 Sep, 5 Oct
Time: 4pm - 6pm
Venue: COOS

Register at admin desk or scan QR code or thru this link: https://bit.ly/2vq7ClL
Location: COOS
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4:45 pm: Evergreen Fellowship Talk

Evergreen Fellowship is organising a talk by Mr Benny Ong on "Understanding the difference between Advance Medical Directive (AMD), The lasting power of Attorney and The will.
Location: COOS AUDITORIUM
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Events on September 1, 2019

8:30 am: English Service : Pastor Joseph You speaking [Holy Communion]

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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10:45 am: English Service : Pastor Joseph You speaking [Holy Communion]

Location: 130 Margaret Dr, Singapore 149300
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SERVICE DETAILS

MAIN SERVICES (ENGLISH)
Saturday | 2.30pm
Sunday | 8.30am and 10.45am
YOUTH SERVICE (ENGLISH)
Saturday | 4.30pm
*Except every 1st weekend of the month, where youth joins main services.
SERVICES & OFFICE LOCATION
130 Margaret Drive Singapore 149300
It is a 10-minute walk from the Queenstown MRT Station.The bus-stops nearest to the church are served by
SBS Bus 51, 111, 145, 186, 195 and 32 and TIBS Bus 970.

The office is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9am to 5.30pm.

Click here for more service details.