There’s one more angel in Heaven
There’s one more star in the sky
Mommy we’ll never forget you
It’s tough but we’re gonna get by
-modified lyrics, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Andrew Lloyd Webber
Last Sunday, my tornado of a mother suddenly died. She was doing dishes when she fell dead, as if she was struck by lightning. At the same time, an elderly uncle fell, so my siblings and I were dealing with that crisis. It feels like we turned away for a moment and then she left. My many aunties, uncles, workmates and friends are super worried about me because after my father’s death I fell into a deep depression which took about five years to come out of. I wrote an article about how stoic Asians need to stop doing the face thing and seek help and was told I was victim blaming.
Mom’s death is different. She felt ill (general symptoms of stomach cramp/bloating, constipation, vomiting) so she consulted a doctor on the phone with an in person appointment later (COVID has really messed up healthcare) who told her she had stomach flu and there wasn’t much pain. Turns out she had multiple cancers in her body and her family doctor never sent her for any scans over the last twenty years of being their patient. Looking back, the only sign was weight loss which we attributed to her becoming older and being sad about dad’s death. Is it better to know death is coming or not?
She was a powerhouse, running a virtual Chinese school with a thousand students the day before she died. As a grandmother she doted on her grandkids and as a mother, she was strict with high standards which were difficult to meet at times. Despite her driving me crazy, I am glad I took the time to see her almost every weekend. We went on cross border shopping trips, ate meals with her friends, and I took her and my kid to Philly to play in Sesame Place.
Mom thought she would die soon after dad, so she spent the last six years drilling into me that the most important thing is the next generation. Depression wasn’t real to her, her strategy was yelling at me all the time about forgetting myself because family was most important. She had her affairs put in order and even picked out her casket! She was dim-summing 3-4 times a week with friends and even had sleepovers with her BFF. My lovely husband and I were planning on moving in with her next summer to take care of her because she said she didn’t want to go into a nursing home. We thought she would live past 100 and we were ok with that.
Whenever I feel sad, I feel her spirit behind me yelling at me to stop whining and keep going. So I think I am holding it together this time, I really am. I am a bit slow on responding to emails and doing work but I am trying.
Everyone is talking to me about how life is fragile and it is true. Please give your loved ones a hug or send them a message to connect. Also, find a good doctor who cares. We all know our time is limited, but it’s too hard to face, so we ignore it. Thank you for reading, have a good day!