Kwee Ann Yap was born on March 31, 1963, in Selangor, Malaysia. She is the youngest of 3 siblings. Growing up, Ann was not keen on socializing, she mostly kept to herself to avoid any kind of social activity. She loved reading and spending time with her family.
Steve was born Steven Nonaka on August 25, 1949, in a Sugar Plantation Hospital in Waipahu, Hawaii. He is the oldest of 4 children, a brother and two sisters. His stepfather adopted him and his younger sister, changing their last name to Fukunaga. The family moved several times before finally settling in at Pauoa Valley located in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In late 1997 Steve decided to explore a forum for pen pals, and it was there he found Ann’s bio and started to correspond with her. Steve felt Ann was a good and loving person in working with children with developmental disabilities. They became good friends and corresponded for several months. The relationship between Steve and Ann grew from being friends, to being in love.
In November of 1999, Steve booked a flight to Malaysia. It was a short stay, but it was exciting! His concerns about Ann’s family accepting him quickly vanished when they welcomed him with open arms. On the last day of the visit, Steve proposed to Ann, and she accepted. They were married on June 7, 2000, and the reception was on Sunday, June 11.
Ann arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 25, 2000. This date happened to be Steve’s birthday, so it was a wonderful birthday present for him!
Ann discovered she had depression and anxiety throughout her high school years though it never manifested itself to a point where people, even her own family could see the effect it had on her. In the early years of their marriage, the depression and anxiety became more and more intense, and it put a strain on their relationship. At that time, Steve knew little about this condition and did not know how to respond to it. He took the things Ann’s said during her episodes personally and this would drive him away from Ann. It was so intense, Ann attempted to take her life twice. For her at that time it was the only way she could escape the darkness surrounding her. She felt there was no hope.
Eventually, Ann looked for help and found a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Ann was diagnosed with Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder). Over the years, the counselling helped her acquire coping skills and helped her learn more about her condition. During this time, Steve learned about the condition and had a better understanding of what it was, when it was coming, and how to work with Ann during her episodes. Steve learned to stay away from the stereo typical reaction that people frequently say to individuals experiencing depression. Instead, he now knows that Ann just needs to know he is by her side and supporting her. He also learned just talking with Ann helps with diminishing the effect of her depression. It’s still there, but it helps her to slowly come out of the dark cloud around her.
Steve and Ann have been married for 22 years and their relationship is stronger than ever. The love they have for each other is unconditional, they have worked through the “Better and the Worst” time of their lives together.
March 19, 2022
To My Dearest Ann,
I am writing you this letter to express my thoughts about our relationship and how I feel about you personally.
For over 21 years, you have been my wife, best friend, and soul mate. I cannot imagine life without you, you are the reason I wake up each day thanking God I have you in my life. I live for you.
You went through a lot having to adjust living in a very different culture. You left your home and family to start a life with me. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate the sacrifices you had to make to marry me and be my life-long partner. I can never do enough to show you how much this means to me.
Over the past 21 years, we have learned a lot about each other. We are so different from each other yet there is that attraction that draws us closer together. I guess the saying “opposites attract” is so true. In many ways our differences complement each other. Our weakness is supported by our strengths. We also have a lot in common which allows us to do things together we both enjoy.
I’ve never understood the true meaning of having “unconditional love” but now I can truly say I know what it means when I say to you, my love for you is unconditional. I also know the feeling is mutual with you. For all the hard times I’ve given you and all the times I needed your help with my health issues, you stood by me and supported me without expectations. For this I really appreciated you.
One of the things I’ve had to learn and adjust to is your depression and anxiety. This was a new thing I’ve never experienced before. It was difficult emotionally, but over time you have taught me how to cope with this condition. It is still not easy, but I now know what to do and what to say whenever you are having an episode. No matter what the situation is, I still love you and I will always stand by you and support you.
We’ve gone through a lot over the past 21 years, but we are still together putting up with our weirdness. If we can still laugh at each other, there will be joy!
The last things I want to tell you, is how you have helped me with my spiritual walk. You have influenced me with your dedication to reading the bible and studying God’s word. I had back-slid so far away from following God, but over the years, I have come to realize that without God in our lives, we may not have made it this far. I thank God for His grace and blessings on our marriage. We have certainly lived the vows we took on June 11, 2000, “in sickness and in health, for richer and poor”.
I love you dearly,
Your “honey bunch of oats”