Suzette Yu Kho

The following piece, entitled Saved by Little Angels, was written by Suzette Yu-Kho. She is a Kindermusik teacher and shares how pursuing her vocation in educating children helped her cope with the loss of her dear father. Thank you Suzette for sharing this with us.

It was a rather chilly Sunday morning, an hour past midnight when Dad died in February of this year. I remember looking up at the dark sky outside the hospital as I called the funeral parlour and the agent I was dealing with three weeks before his death. I had been preparing myself for this moment and I reminded myself to put on a strong facade, a calm composure. Things had to be done and nothing would be achieved if my family were to see me overcome with emotion.

I just never realized that no matter how carefully planned-out everything was weeks prior to that fateful day (from the services right up to the vault where Dad’s ashes would be put to rest), I could not control the sudden bursts of tears, the sleepless nights, the hours I spent wondering what else we should have done to make Dad’s tumors disappear. Although I knew that his life depended solely on God’s plans, I sensed sharp pangs of guilt. Perhaps if we made him take Essiac Tea months before his death or let him go through the complete dose of Immune Cell Therapy his life might have been prolonged; maybe if he studied Tai-Chi and did not stress himself out with moving to a new residence he would have survived. My only solace was knowing that before he died, he asked for his scapular, talked to Christ and begged for forgiveness. I witnessed how excited he was for Sunday Mass just hours before he passed away. Despite the fact that I knew Dad completely converted to Christianity and accepted the Divine Mercy devotion with all his heart, I was grieving. The problem was, I did not grieve outwardly. I was incapable of expressing my pain even to those closest to me.

Dad’s wake lasted over a week. He was cremated on the morning of my 35th birthday. Everything seemed surreal. At that moment my most despised word was “condolences”. Although I did not mind receiving text messages and cards from well-wishers expressing their sorrow, hearing this word uttered in front of me made my heart throb all the more with a dull ache. Somehow, this particular word was a bleak confirmation that Dad was no longer coming back.

In spite of what happened, I continued conducting my classes. In fact, I carried on with my work even during the days of Dad’s wake. While I could not bring myself to fully share my grief with others, I found that being with little children and hearing their rippling laughter greatly consoled me. During those difficult times, I loved my vocation all the more—teaching Kindermusik became therapeutic for me. With each lesson plan I wrote, with every single instrument and prop I prepared, I put in so much love as if I were creating a class for Dad. Because of Dad’s condition, he never had the chance to see me in class, singing and dancing with children and their families; however, I would always remember the proud look in his eyes the minute he learned that I was reaching out to families and children of all abilities. He beamed with joy when I told him about my passion for children with special needs and how my classes had helped them. Whenever I held a class, I could actually feel Dad’s encouraging presence, nudging me to keep pursuing my calling. Sometimes I would even imagine him participating during the sessions, belting out tunes and twirling as if he were still alive and kicking. Dad had always been so vibrant and spirited and he loved music as much as I did. He was fond of little children, too, and had been a doting father and grandfather. He had this kind, gentle aura as well as a wacky sense of humour that attracted my own children to him.

Ever since Dad’s death, Kindermusik has become more than a passion or advocacy for me—it has become my way of life. People deal with grief differently; in my case, I have decided to cope by pouring my heart and soul into each class. Being surrounded by such happy, eager children daily, I realize that Kindermusik has been tremendously helpful in allowing me to recover and accept the loss of my dear father. I have discovered much comfort in the innocence of young children and I find their laughter infectious; I feel so contented just sharing moments with them. Teaching Kindermusik has provided me with a release for my sanguine personality and creative nature, too. I receive a lot of joy and fulfilment seeing my own children and other families gathering around my singing circle, openly expressing their love for one another through circle dances, chants and lullabies. I have witnessed children’s developmental milestones, seen mothers getting teary-eyed when their children say “I love you” in oh-so-many ways. It is the kind of job I look forward to everyday—I only wish I started sooner by becoming an educator several years ago. From a simple dream I had over twelve months before, my Kindermusik program has grown two-fold through the amazing referrals of pediatricians and families who express how much they enjoy the sessions. I am deeply touched and overwhelmed by every recommendation and simply cannot express my gratitude to all those who have been entrusting their children with me.

Perhaps through Kindermusik, God is providing me with a glimpse of heaven here on earth. With the children’s delight and laughter ringing in my ears, I cannot help but believe that Dad ought to be laughing merrily in paradise like those children…he must be so happy now, free from pain and full of peace, in a place much lovelier than all the gardens in this world. Thank you, my precious, adorable students, my little angels, for saving me from the black hole of uncertainty and for granting me a peek into paradise.

Note: Suzette is the current editor-in-chief of the Our Alma Matters newsletter of Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA). She graduated from ICA in 1991. A dedicated wife and mother of two young boys, Suzette also manages and directs her own Kindermusik program in Ayala Heights Village, Quezon City and at KIDS Academy along Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City.

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