MH370: Time has done little to heal wounds

MH370: Time has done little to heal wounds

The nine-year-old goes to school like other children. But sometimes, while class is in session, he breaks down in tears.

Living without his mother is hard for the son of Tan Ser Kuin, who was among the crew who vanished with 238 others aboard MH370 a year ago today.

Time has done little to heal the wounds felt by the stewardess' husband and their two young children.

Tan's husband, identified only as Shim, said he had to send the boy and his seven-year-old sister to a psychiatrist to help ease the pain of not seeing their mother.

"The boy would suddenly break down in tears in class. He would also imagine what his mother would say or do in certain situations like meal times," said the 40-year-old businessman in an interview.

Shim said his son would also look at family photographs and "count how many family members" he had left.

For Shim, the hardest part was to deal with the feelings of emptiness and loneliness following the incident.

"I miss having someone close to talk to," he said.

Shim said his 40-year-old wife would normally be the one to get Chinese New Year clothes for their children.

"This year, we didn't buy any for the New Year," he said.

Shim said she would "stockpile" toys for her children as presents during celebrations or if they did well in examinations.

"There are still toys that my wife has yet to give out," he added.

There were other times that he was reminded of the void left by Tan, such as when he took them out and people asked about their mummy.

"I really don't know how to answer them," he said.

Describing the MH370 incident as complicated, Shim said "we are neither here nor there and do not know how to deal with it".

Shim thanked the Government for its commitment in continuing the search for the aircraft, and the support rendered by Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin, who chairs the MH370 next of kin committee.

"We never know what may happen tomorrow," he sighed.

The family of MH370 stewardess Foong Wai Yueng was not in the mood to usher in the Year of the Goat.

"We do not feel like meeting anyone for the festivities.

"All I want is a place to hide," said Foong's husband, Lee Khim Fatt, when met days before the Lunar New Year celebrations.

The 45-year-old salesman said he and their children - a daughter aged 11 and a five-year-old son - missed Foong, 39, immensely.

"I used to turn on the radio when driving. But these days I prefer the silence to avoid being reminded of the pain," he said.

He added that their daughter was sometimes emotional and had outbursts at home.

However, the family had no plans to move as "this is our only home".

"I did not even remove a single item belonging to my wife at home," said Lee.

Though well-meaning family members and friends had offered support and advice, Lee said it was not easy to put it into practice.

"Without answers, we can't move on," said Lee, who also thanked Hamzah.

Elaine Chew, in the absence of her husband Tan Size Hiang, 46, another steward aboard the missing jet, keeps herself busy at home and at work.

"It's taxing for me financially as I have now become the breadwinner in the family," said the 36-year-old manicurist.

"Our daughter (aged six) asks when Dad will be back from work. I tell her the Government is still trying to find him," she said.

The girl, who did not celebrate her birthday last year, had requested for a family gathering for her birthday this year.

Chew said she would sometimes call her husband's handphone number when she missed him.

"I wasn't afraid of flying prior to the incident. But now, I have a phobia about flying."Many families are also still hanging on to their possessions of the missing loved ones.

Said Lee: "I have not changed or moved anything except the sheets, as the children have always slept with us here. But ever since that day, I sleep on the floor mattress with my son. It doesn't feel the same ... doesn't feel right sleeping on the bed without her (Foong) beside me."

Chew shared wistfully: "Our daughter has slept with us since the day she was born, now it's just me and her."

Jacquita Gomes, 53, the wife of MH370 in-flight supervisor Patrick Francis Gomes, 55, and Melanie Antonio, 46, who is married to chief steward Andrew Nari, 49, too, have retained their bedrooms as they are.

Gomes' shorts were draped over the left corner of the bed frame when MH370 disappeared. They still hang there.

"I left them there even though they are smelly now. It reminds me of him being here."

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