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  • Writer's pictureSharon Koay

God's child

For the last 25 days, I have been fervently praying to God for answers to Joshua's death, comfort for the loss and strength to go on. Yesterday, I was reminded that Joshua is God's child and I am merely the steward for his time here on Earth.

I have missed the last three Sunday church services, but I felt compelled to attend the service yesterday online (I am not quite ready yet to leave the solitude of my house where I choose to grieve alone).

In the service, Pastor Shearn's sermon spoke directly to me. I was reminded that I was merely a steward of Joshua, and that Joshua is God's child. I should be, and am, thankful and blessed that God entrusted me with this stewardship for 19 years. Joshua is now back with God. This does not take away the unbearable pain I have in my heart and soul, but it does provide some small form of comfort.

When I had my baby 19 years ago, I named him Joshua Tan Peng Boon.

Joshua, after the courageous and faithful leader in the bible who led the Israelites into the land that God had promised them. In the bible, Joshua's story is one of faith, obedience, and the fulfillment of God's promises to His people. In life, Joshua was very similar.

His Chinese name, Peng Boon 秉文, means scholar - and that he was. He was so very intelligent, and always eager to share his knowledge and help others with their studies. During his funeral, his teachers and schoolmates shared stories with me on what Joshua was like in school.

Here are just some of the messages they left on his tribute wall:

"Going to miss you bro. Thanks for guiding me in sport science. I will forever be grateful for the guidance and wisdom you shared with me."

"The bubbliest person I've ever met even help me and my friend about topics for SPM especially sains sukan baru ja rabu he talked that he's going to pursue his studies in sports science. Fly high PFS mood booster. We love you."

"Joshua, I never got to say thank you for 1 last time for helping me and others during our Form 5 days. And also inside the SPM exam hall. Hope you are happy up there. Keep playing tennis."

"You have been joy for every soul you communicate and share memories with my dear friend. It's been a great loss for me since you have been a great friend, a mentor and especially a brother to me. You teach me a lot when it was hard for me to understand and I pray that you will fly high and sit with god in his throne."

"Dear Joshua, I really miss you brother. Thanks for be a good friend of mine. I'll always miss your moment together. You always been my great maths mentor. Rest well brother."

"Thanks for every moment you've lightened our mood, even when we thought the day couldn't get any worse. You showed the love of God through your actions and were indeed a blessing to others. Rest in peace & rise in glory Joshua."

"Thanks for always being a brother that never failed to make us smile and laugh. You have always inspired us to keep on going no matter what challenges we face. May you rest in peace Joshua"

"You always had such a sweet smile and even sweeter demeanor. You never failed to put a smile on other people's face and you've truly inspired me to be a better human being."

"Joshua has been a very loving and compassionate student. His love and passion for poetry was amazing. His favourite poem, "I thank you God for most this amazing" was a poem he always referred to and he loves the concept of gratitude in the poem. He was always there to lend a hand to those who needed help and his classmates adored him. PFS will surely miss him."

After Joshua's funeral, I received a very touching email from one of his schoolmates, along with photos and videos of Joshua at school. Full email with photos and video here >

An excerpt of the email reads:

"I would like to share my memories with Joshua during school time. First, I was late to join the F6 at Free School about one week as I just transferred from other school. That time I was kinda shy to talk with others and Joshua is the one who greet to me first. My first impression to Joshua: he was so friendly and with his signature broad smile showing all his teeth...

... Joshua never hesitate to share the answer and teach us how to answer the question. He been kind to everyone no matter who you are. Some of us like to call Joshua "mini library" as he really know a lot of things."

Joshua did all of this despite battling with a severe mental illness - depression.

A schoolmate shared this on Instagram after Joshua's death which was re-shared many times, and I'm glad that there is a growing awareness around mental health from this tragedy:

"Men's mental health is important, your problems are also your loved one's problems, silence should never be an option, doesn't matter if your miles off the cliff or right at the edge. Speak out to people that care, trust me many people do. Your existence is the reason dozens of people share a smile. To think that someone could go from the embodiment of selflessness and joy to just being another star in the sky is sickening. Remember those who have left in the brightest light possible, help those who are struggling with every ounce you can give. Small wins are what this life is for, makes it worth it. Appreciate it while it's still there. RIP J."

Joshua loved God with all his heart, faithfully attending church services, and striving to be a better person. I try to take comfort believing that he is back with God now, but I continue to miss him so very much, it hurts so badly, mentally, emotionally, physically. I still don't know how I am going to live my life without Joshua in it, and I look forward to the day when I can be reunited with him in Heaven, never to be separated again.

(Photo taken on Ash Wednesday 2018)

Till we meet again, Joshua. I love you so very much.


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

- John 3:16-17

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