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Shuyi and Justin Liok: Dear Orion

For The Peak's Next Gen takeover, the co-managers of the Liok Family Office share a letter addressed to their infant son.

The Peak’s Next Gen personalities take over to share personal stories close to their hearts – get to know all nine of them here.

February 2019.

Dear Orion, Blinking back tears of joy, we stared nervously. “Pregnant,” it read. This was the reassurance we’ve been praying for.

The past three years have been testing. With countless doctor visits and fruitless attempts, we rejoiced when friends started young families while feeling isolated and dejected with our infertility. Faced with repeated disappointment, it seemed that it would be a dark journey with no end in sight.

 

Your name

Your maternal grandfather was a boy scout and fondly recounted his camping excursions, where he sought comfort in spotting the prominent Orion’s belt constellation even in the darkest nights. We prayed and sought assurance that, like Orion’s belt, you would be there. We committed your name, Orion, in our prayers and trusted that one day you would be.

 

Our pregnancy

Our pregnancy was a joyous one. There was no morning sickness, aversions or cravings. We spent the summer exploring ruins and grottos in Malta, partying in Romania, savouring hearty cuisine in Bulgaria, enjoying biergarten brunches in Germany, wine-tasting in France and whisky-tasting in the Scottish Highlands. You were curiously soaking in new sounds and tastes, telling us with an excited little kick at night about how much you enjoyed the day.

In the weeks leading up to your arrival, we set up the nursery with your cot, sterilisers, cameras and drawers full of swaddles, face towels and mittens. We itemised our todo list across multiple Excel tabs, checked and re-checked that we had prepared everything on the list, speed-read parenting guidebooks and attended crash courses on parenting. Despite being more “wartime ready” than “Insta-good”, nothing could prepare us for your arrival.

 

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Your arrival

You arrived quietly on October 18, 2019, without a cry while your mother was still sedated. Your father watched in despair and prayed for our family to be reunited. The medical team did everything they could for you to catch your first steady breath, while you were still slumbering peacefully, oblivious to the world. In those early hours, the fear of losing you taught us to treasure the blessing of having you.

Four months into your young life and you are the best teacher we can find. You patiently withstood our trials and errors, and taught us to be the best parents we could be. Together we ploughed through helpless days and sleepless nights, our tears of despair soothed only by a longing to be close to you.

Parenthood is full of paradoxes. Through you, we finally understand how much our aged parents sacrificed for us. Be it keeping awake to lull us to sleep at night, scaling back on splurges to save up for our future or giving up career opportunities to spend more time nurturing us, the conscious decision they made to put us first came easy to them – just as it became easy for us to take their love for granted. With you, we find ourselves walking the same path, but with a greater respect and appreciation for your grandparents.

Parenthood is humbling. Through you, we learnt that in an age of empowerment and technology, being faithful is our only hope. Our lives were planned out and everything was on track. We had achieved academic and professional accolades, travelled the world, set up our family office, and even planned a babymoon in the summer of 2016, ready to welcome our little “monkey” by year’s end. But that was not to be. Still, we were unfazed, confident in the array of modern fertility treatments. The delay in months became years and our foolhardy confidence was quickly subsumed by a void filled with insurmountable failure. For the first time in our lives, we could only surrender to God and have faith. And then you arrived, darling Orion.

 

Our hope

You have strengthened our faith and showed us how God loves us. We will strive to be good stewards and show you that you too are loved by God. Your arrival was an arduous but eagerly anticipated one. Everyone prayed alongside us and rejoiced when you were conceived. We witnessed His perfect creation for you are everything we prayed for and more.

Be kind and loving. We live in a fallen world, separated by differences and judged by facades. When you look at us with complete trust and adoration, we are awakened to take another look at our tainted world through your lens of innocence.

Honour your legacy. Your paternal great-grandfathers came to Singapore and worked to their last breath to provide the best lives for us. We hope that, through us, you will learn their virtues of humility and hard work, and will not take your life for granted. Orion, just as you have brought light into our lives, we hope you will live up to your name and always be a shining beacon of hope to others by the God-fearing life you will live, even in the most challenging of days.

(Related: [Video] The Peak Next Gen Takeover: Get to know our guest columnists)