Widow 'didn't want to go on living'

Widow 'didn't want to go on living'
Ms Clara Lee's husband passed away while she was five months pregnant.
PHOTO: The New Paper

For a year, just over 20 years ago, she would subconsciously go to the 12th storey of her HDB block, climb onto the parapet and talk to her late husband as her legs dangled beneath her.

And for four of those months, she was pregnant.

In 1995, when Ms Clara Lee was five months pregnant, she received the tragic news that her husband had died in a car accident in Germany where he had travelled to for work.

He was a 29-year-old convention photographer.

Ms Lee, 49, told The New Paper at the Mrs Singapore & Classic Mrs Singapore press conference last Saturday: "It was very shocking for me as we had been married for less than a year. Everything was so short-lived.

"I was so happy to be in my new home and looking forward to having a happy family with him."

Widowed and feeling lost, she fell into a state of depression.

"Every other night, I would climb onto the parapet and as I looked down, it felt like I could see his face and I would start talking to him," recalled the management operations executive.

The single mum, who was an office clerk back then, took on great financial responsibility as she became the sole breadwinner of her family, supporting her young child and elderly mother.

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"Soon after I gave birth, I felt like I was out of my state of depression and free of my worries because now I have my son growing up to look forward to and I can still have a semi-happy family," said Ms Lee.

But her son suffered from asthma and had an excessive amount of mucus in his chest. He was also born with a fractured collar bone.

"He was admitted to KK Women's and Children's Hospital for a few months for doctors to monitor his mucus levels," said Ms Lee, whose life savings went towards her son's medical bills.

"The doctors told me if the mucus wasn't extracted, my son would die.

"Life was tough. I kept asking myself, 'Why have I been given this treatment?' I didn't want to go on living."

"But my mother stuck with me through thick and thin. She told me I had to be strong because I am both father and mother to my son," added Ms Lee, whose mum is 90 years old.

"We have to be strong so he can have a future. Without her, I wouldn't be here today.

"The last time I went to the parapet, she took my son there and said to me: 'You want to jump? I'll let you take him with you. After that, I will join you.'

"Suddenly, I was awoken from my daze by my son's cries and I realised what I was doing.

"I no longer go there because I've seen how much it was hurting my mother."

Read also: Single mum raises 4 kids, pays $900 rent on $1,500 salary

Ms Lee said her son, who is now 21 and serving his national service, is thankful for her sacrifices and has never missed out on parental attention.

Now in its 18th edition, Mrs Singapore & Classic Mrs Singapore is a pageant that has developed into one that provides a voice and a platform for modern-day married women, allowing them the opportunity to do their part in contributing to society.

The finals will be held on May 7.

On joining Classic Mrs Singapore, Ms Lee said: "I'm happy and proud of myself that I'm able to walk out of my old shadow.

"I want other women to know that no matter what happens in life, you have to be benevolent and willing to face all obstacles.

"By stepping up, you will be able to counter all difficulties."

natmeah@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 5, 2016.
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