A poem by James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), printed on the back of the mass booklet for Patricia Ng's funeral:
ABOU BEN ADHEM (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
"What writest thou?" -- The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still, and said "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
PATRICIA NG, wife of the leader of the Christian meditation group in Singapore, died on 14th February (Valentine's Day) afternoon. D. emailed the meditation community the following day, "Patricia passed away peacefully at home today, 14 February at 3.39 pm. Her family were all at her bedside. The family would like to thank all of you for holding them in your hearts and prayers in the last 19 months."
Since that fateful diagnosis in July 2003, Patricia had continued to contribute to the meditation community despite her intense suffering -- giving talks at the Holy Cross meditation group, starting and supporting a meditation group in Gleneagles Hospital, and so on. Each time I saw her, she looked so radiant and joyful. She had been such an inspiration to all.
In Fr Lawrence Freeman's words at the funeral, "Patricia was the first meditator in the Christian Meditation Community here in Singapore. Peter [her husband] was her first student and together they served, taught and loved into being a spiritual family that has had a worldwide influence. This community grieves for her as a friend, a teacher, and a founder. But first of all we think of the children she and Peter raised so beautifully and lovingly, the first and deepest focus of their life's work together, Georgina, Debbie and Terence and the two granddaughters, Alison and Rachel who Patricia lived to see, to hold and to love."
Peter's eulogy was very touching, ending with, "I think we will remember Patricia best as a woman of love. It was significant that the Lord welcomed her home on the 14th February, Valentines's Day. Patricia consoled me that when she has gone physically, she will be even more present to me in spirit. She constantly reminded me that whatever happens, love remains. Love never ends. I love you, Suat. Thank you for loving me."
May she rest in the arms of the Lord. ("I'm sure she is heaven now," my neighbour S. said the other day.) And may her family and loved ones be comforted in their bereavement.
(See also Neither Death Nor Life.)