Main photo by Audris Adabella Quek; illustration courtesy of artist. All other photos courtesy of writer.
In early 2020, friends and strangers alike rejoiced when See Ting, better known as Seets, was declared cancer-free following her mastectomy and the completion of her treatment. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in mid-2019, 4 months after the death of her father and six years into her struggle with alopecia.
However, an unexpected minor stroke towards the end of 2020 sent Seets back into the hospital, upon which doctors discovered she had breast cancer-related brain tumours. The tumours were swiftly dealt with through non-invasive surgery, but within a few weeks, prolonged severe headaches spelt the most devastating news yet: she had leptomeningeal disease, an end-stage cancer in the brain with no guarantee of cure.
On February 23, 2021 (Tuesday), Seets passed away peacefully in the hospital. She was 28 years old. Thir.st remembers her fondly through the stories we’ve told together. Joanne Kwok, our former Creative Producer and one of her closest friends, shares the eulogy written in her honour.
The day after I visited Seets in the hospital for what would be the last time, I lost my voice. It just disappeared the next morning and I couldn’t explain it.
And even as I sit here to write, willing myself to prepare for her eulogy, the words appearing feel like a strangled whisper. I want to say everything and nothing at the same time.
Seets is gone.
We had known this moment could come sooner than we desired and believed the Lord for whatever He would choose – but like jumping out of a plane, it’s still terrifying to face. And now we all have to free fall together, unable to go back.
We’re in the “after” now.
As the friend whose words she loved, I feel the great pressure to make this very moment of writing such an important piece count.
But as a human being, a soul that’s lost another, what has brought me great comfort in the chasm of her departure are not words, but a picture.
You would have probably seen it by now, the beautiful drawing of Jesus carrying a bald-headed girl in a wedding dress up a flight of steps, flanked by two girls, a little one with long hair and a taller one with none.
You would have probably known all three of them are Seets, each girl representing a part of her story. Seets before alopecia, after alopecia and with cancer, you might think.
But this is what I saw immediately: Seets before Jesus, after Jesus and with Jesus. And by the tears she wept upon receiving this soon after her leptomeningeal diagnosis, I know Seets saw it too.
Despair eludes me because of this very glory.
There is sorrow, yes, because my heart friend can no longer walk with me, but not the death of hope, or faith or love, for the God she trusted.
She may not have had the wedding she dreamed of and was planning for, but as Christians, believers of life eternal, a funeral is also a wedding.
Seets is back with the One she loves.
It is the perfected union and reunion with the One who calls us His beloved and who carries us to the Home He gave His life to spend eternity in with us.
Seets is back with the One she loves. In a promised place of no more suffering or pain, no more needles and hospital beds and lonely hours with a broken body.
Safe with the Saviour who walked through the valley of the shadow of death and death itself, perfectly safe because He knows the way.
If you search online for a photo of the steps leading out of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was praying in anguish hours before His arrest and eventual crucifixion, you will find one that looks exactly like the ones drawn in the picture, meandering in the same direction.
I had discovered this when it dawned on me that in the picture, based on an image that appeared in the artist’s mind as she prayed for Seets, Jesus was bringing her out of a valley and up to a higher place.
The Garden of Gethsemane sits at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus would have climbed those very steps when He was led away in chains on His march out towards His death.
The artist had not known this at the point of creation, and I had made the connection only after. We were incredibly moved by the presence of God in that moment. He was right there.
The word the Lord gave Seets this year is “victory”. “But where is this victory now?”, one might ask.
And again I look to the picture of the girl carried out of the valley, and a deep peace settles in my heart. Because He went before us to make a way – those steps, once to death, now lead only to the fullest of life.
Seets is with Jesus now. No more pain, no more suffering, no more broken body. She’s more alive than she’s ever been. She’s fully, truly a better Ting.
See you in glory, my darling.
This eulogy was originally posted on Joanne’s Instagram page and has been republished with permission. To leave a tribute or read Seets’ news articles and stories, visit @abetterting on Instagram or the website created by her friends to remember her life together. Please keep her family and loved ones in prayer during this time of grief.
FOR MORE OF SEE TING’S STORIES:
THINK + TALK
- What are your thoughts on death and where you’re going after you die?
- Would you say you’re living the fullest life right now? Why or why not?
- What decisions must you make in order to live fully and without regret?