Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another HLH baby

Jonah Chuang is almost 4-months-old and he is currently undergoing BMT. His family will be waiting to see how his brother's marrow settles into his body. However, during the bone marrow harvest, the needle was put into Ethan's, Jonah's brother, spinal canal instead of just his pelvic bone. They will have to see the extent of the damage when he wakes up from several days of sedation. Please keep this family in your prayers. To read more, go to www.savejonah.com.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day at the Yu's

I hope everyone had a memorable Thanksgiving Day. Tim and I had both of our parents over for Thanksgiving along with my brother's family. As much as I wanted to, I didn't have the strength to cook the entire meal from scratch so we catered and spruced up the sides with some creativity. We got rave reviews for the turkey (from Albertsons)! The food was good but the unforgettable highlight of the day was my brother's 2-year-old son, Joseph's rendition of his dad giving sermon on the pulpit (My brother is a pastor). He placed a book on a music stand and with his arms lifted he shouted "Hallelujah!". Everyone stopped what they were doing and couldn't stop laughing. When he realized that all eyes were on him, I think he gained momentum at that point and repeated "hallelujah" dozens of times and chuckled in between each one. He shouted with such conviction. It's really amazing how children make us laugh. They also laugh so unexpectedly. We noticed that when Faith sneezes, Erin laughs and this starts a chain reaction and we find ourselves laughing. We momentarily forget about how much we miss Elyse.

As much as I'd like to simply enjoy the company of my family on days like this, it's hard to get through the day without thinking about Elyse. Sometimes I feel like I'm really in a catch-22. I want to keep her memories alive but as my thoughts turn toward Elyse, that slow searing pain is torturous. Thoughts just randomly crop up.....Elyse would have been home by today or very close to being discharged from the hospital...today would have been day+65 post-BMT...she would have 100% donor cells and full engrafment by now...we would have been so thankful today on Thanksgiving Day to see Elyse well on her way to full recovery.. As I sit here writing this, my heart is heavy. It's a daily struggle. I don't want my mind to wander and think back on what could've been ....would've been. All I can say for now is that I suppose this is all part of mourning for Elyse. It's a process. It's a very difficult process to go through. It's very tough. I ask for your prayers.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Memorial article in the Koream Journal

Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to Michelle Woo of Koream Journal for doing a memorial article on Elyse. It's in the November issue.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Overdue thank yous...

During this difficult time, it's so easy to just look inward and become fixated on the memories of Elyse and our personal pain. I don't think we really took the time to acknowledge so many of you who offered your love and encouragement and sacrificed your time and energy during this journey.

Here is a very long list of people we owe our thank yous to:

Our parents for tirelessly looking after our girls.

Shannon for making countless trips to California from the east coast to pour out her love and support.

Jennie, Bryan, Christine and David for your constant prayers and support...giving up your Saturdays and Sundays to offer your support.

Sharon for giving up your Saturdays to look after Elyse at the hospital and our girls at home. Thank you also for maintaining Elyse's myspace.

Kyung Sun for spending many days and nights producing Elyse's story for us on such short notice.

Song and Jerry, thank you for the hearty meals. Song, thank you for spending the afternoon with me at the hospital when Elyse was first hospitalized. I really needed a friend to lean on that day.

J.P. for leading the strategy meeting and motivating our friends and contacts to have bone marrow drives wherever they can.

Tom and Laura for offering your support in so many ways. Laura, you offered your swedish masssages when I needed them most. For driving our nanny home for so many weeks. Thank you for always generously making yourselves available.

Susan and Jae for the useful cot. Thanks to you both Tim and I were able to sleep comfortably in Elyse's hospital room. And thank you to Susan for going to the BMT Unit to pick up Elyse's belongings on our behalf. I don't think I'd have the strength to go back there for a long time.

Teresa and Susy for visiting us at the hospital and satisfying our hunger with King Taco. Thank you for listening that day. I guess I had a lot to vent that day.

Thank you Sam and Carolyn for making the trip out to LA just to donate platelets for Elyse when she needed them desperately.

Thank you Daniel Ra for arduously spreading Elyse's story through Facebook and the very first bone marrow drive in Elyse's honor.

Aekyeong for generously offering her time to do the korean translations for the website. I am so fortunate to call you my friend.

Pastor Chris for helping us get through the funeral arragements. You have no idea how much more difficult it would have been if you hadn't stepped in.

Wei, Kathy, Pastor Chris, Ruth and Erick for deligently maintaining the website for us. Thank you so much for your dedication to Elyse's cause.

Peter Ha for helping to edit Elyse's story and putting togethering Elyse's memorial pictures.

Katie in Philadelphia for hosting a bone marrow drive with one of the largest turnout of donors. I'm so glad that you came to visit us and we had a chance to meet you. I hope that we can continue to keep in touch.

Thank you to Steve and Joanne for working so hard to make the bone marrow drive possible at Bethel Church.

Thank you Mary for being a genuine friend.

Thank you Eunice for sharing your big heart. I'm so glad you came to see Elyse. I would have liked Elyse to know you.

Debby and Jeannie for your love and compassion. We just can't thank you enough for even attending Elyse's funeral services.

A3M (Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches) and Cammy Lee Leukemia Foundation for getting Elyse's story out there and promoting bone marrow drives everywhere.

Michelle and Eric at Koream Journal for writing and documenting Elyse's story and also for the memorial article on Elyse.

Day Hospital nurses at CHLA for your constant compassion for Elyse. We thank you for patiently answering all of our questions and taking such good care of Elyse at every lab and chemo appointment.

Thank you Dr. Hofstra (Elyse's Hem/Onc doctor)for your dedication to Elyse. You gave us hope when we needed it.

Carrie and Xander. You are both courageous individuals. We treasure your friendship and we will continue to keep Ethan and Keane in our prayers.

Thank you Courttney (social worker with BMT). You held my hand when I was so broken seeing Elyse suffer. You prayed with me when I could not make sense of anything.

BMT team. They are the most dedicated team of medical professionals I have come across. The doctors' look of concern when Elyse wasn't doing well worried us but also gave us assurance that they really did care about their patients. I couldn't ask for a more professional, knowledgeable and compassionate team of nurses. They did everything they could to make her comfortable during the last few days.

Thank you to everyone who hosted bone marrow drives, registered as donors, donated blood and platelets. I believe your sacrifice will not go unnoticed.

Thank you to all who came to Elyse's memorial services to remember Elyse's short but full life. Thank you to those who could not attend and was with us in spirit.

Thank you to all who prayed earnestly and continue to pray for Elyse and our family.

We still receive a steady stream of condolences through email and by mail. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Every comment on the blogsite, every card, every email, every gesture of support....comforts us during this very difficult time. We feel so privileged to have been Elyse's parents.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Difficult tasks for now.....

I received a call from a nurse at the fertility center I frequented for countless ultrasounds, blood draws and ultimately for IVF procedures which led to the conception of our triplets. She was just making a routine call to ask about my pregnancy, delivery and health of our triplets. My heart sank as I was once again reminded of our painful reality. I had to reiterate that Elyse is no longer with us. I realized that it is very painful to accept this fact. I wished that I was able to tell the nurse that all three of our girls were in perfect health when they were born and still doing exceptionally well. When I told the nurse about Elyse, she paused for a moment and expressed her condolences. She politely wished us well. After I put the phone down, I was in tears once again. Sometimes I just let it flow. Nothing can stop it. It felt like my heart had broken into a thousand pieces to remember that I carried her for nine months and gave birth to her and had so little time with her...that our memories of Elyse had to stop here.

It has been a little over a month since Elyse went to heaven and I don't know when my fond memories of Elyse will bring a smile to my face. I suppose I just have to give it time.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A letter from our friend Frank Choi of Hillsongs Australia

We truly are so blessed to have friends who pray for us. We recently received this letter from Frank Choi, a member of Hillsongs Australia. We believe that he was inspired to write these words that touched us and moved us to tears. We wanted to share it with you all.

October 12, 2007

Dear Tim & Susan

This is Frank from Sydney. I've waited a few days to write this letter after hearing the news of Elyse. I was in shock & lost for words to be totally honest. I prayed & even was upset at God that He allowed it to unfold this way. I really wanted an answer & a reason why it had to be this way.

I really am in mourning with you. I know nothing can really be said to bring comfort to you both. But I want you to know that together with all your family & loved ones you will make it through this difficult time. I know that no one really understands the pain & loss you feel right now. But know that Jesus feels your pain and understands.

I realise during this difficult time you may question God & even be angry, but know that its ok to feel this way & healthy to express it to God who knows & understands what you're going through right now.

I was driving today on the motorway & praying to God why it had to be this way. Asking God what can I say to Elyse's parents to comfort them. At the same time I was also wanting answers. I believe God answered me.

And His answer to me was this "I know its difficult for you to understand. I understand it came as a shock to you but it wasn't a shock to me."

I believe that God was trying to explain to me it's never pleasant to lose a loved one especially at a young age when it seems like they had so much to live for. But we all go to be with the Lord & its never easy for the people who loved then who remain. But I believe God wants us to know that his was Elyse's race as short as it was it was powerful & it wasn't a wasted life.

Through Elyse living the life she did we all know how many lives she will save into the future through the BM donors.

I know right now all we feel is the pain & loss. but I know in due time we will all come to understand why it had to be this way. I pray that you will take comfort in knowing that Elyse is in God's presence right now & one day you will meet her again in the near future. I know God uses all things for good & even what seems like a loss in our present moment will one day be turned into joy.

Tim & Susan I know this, that if Elyse could talk to you both right now she would say "Mummy Daddy I'm so happy right now, I know you miss me but don't worry I'm really really happy right now & I'm going to be our families No. 1 cheerleader in heaven. Your the best mummy & daddy a daughter could wish for. Don't cry mummy & daddy everthing will be okay. I'll be watching over you everyday & every moment. And take care of my beautiful sisters Erin & Faith! I love you all very much & I'm not gone I'm here in heaven with Jesus and I can't wait to see you in person soon. Love you muah muah!"

I really believe thats what Elyse would say. She's probably beaming from ear to ear in excitement to prepare to meet you all soon.

I'm having a lot of mixed emotions about this letter. I'm hoping it comforts you. I'll continue to pray that the peace of God surrounds your heart and minds in Christ Jesus.

Tim & Susan I have to say your strength & courage has really amazed me. God really knew what he was doing when He chose parents for Faith, Elyse & Erin. I praythat with that same strength love and courage you will both shine in this life as amazing parents & spiritual mentors for us. I'm honored to have met you even if its only online. I will come visit one day & I can give you both a big bear hug.

Love from your brother from another mother

Frank Choi

Please forgive me for the paper quality I just had to write it now !

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Harvest Festival

We attended the Harvest Festival at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita on October 31st. Though Faith and Erin are still too young to know where and why we were there, it was good to get out with friends for a little while. We took some pictures, which we are sharing with you all. As you can see in the picures, Faith and Erin were dressed in angel costumes. We would have liked to see Elyse in an angel costume along with Faith and Erin. Again, we remind ourselves that she is in heaven and safe in the arms of God. She must be wearing the most beautiful heavenly gown that is beyond description.

We keep running into the same dilemma when we take the girls out. People come up to us and ask, "Oh, are they twins?" We don't want to deal with talking about what happened, so we say that they are. Well, until I can't contain myself anymore and I end up explaining what happened with Elyse. The atmosphere and mood of the conversation changes immediately and the person we just met is lost for words. Though we would rather not disclose what we have been through with Elyse for the past 8 months, my conscience will not allow me to forget and dishonor our daughter by not speaking about her. I even thought about printing a T-shirt that says "No, they are not twins...they are triplets. Two are with us and one went to heaven before us." This may not be the best solution. Please give us some wise counsel.

The books are a good source of comfort for us. I would suggest you all to read at least one of the books mentioned, especially if you are in a leadership position. It will give you a good idea of what the grieving family is going through and some wise words of comfort for them when they are ready to hear them.