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Bereavement Journey

My mother left this world one year ago. I can still feel the pain when I hung on to her hospital bed railings. My guts were turned inside out and my legs could not carry my weight. I saw her the day before and she complained about head and body aches. The nurses had trouble finding her heartbeat. But nothing prepared me for that. Nothing could EVER prepare me for that.

Today I sit at our dining room table. My mother is smiling at me through her photograph. It is a photo I enlarged and framed. She took this one at the airport near the end of her very last trip to China. She was feeling sad for leaving her relatives there but also hopeful for a much needed rest. In fact this was her mental state toward the end of her life. She wanted the suffering to end and did not want to trouble others any longer. She was ready, she was tired.

Today I am at peace. I know in my heart that I did the best I could during her last 100 days. I visited her every single day she was in the hospital, even after a 12 hour workday and commute to and fro Toronto. The only day I didn’t see her was when she changed hospitals and I got lost. I cooked and brought food for her as much as I could. Nurses even complained we took up too much space in the fridge. I soaked her swollen feet with warm water and gave her oil massages to relieve her pain. Of course I could always do more, but like my kind sister said, we never know how much time was left so we do what we can at the time, for the time being.

Today I am at peace. I know we spent as much time as we could when we could. Even before her diagnosis I decided we are going to get together every weekend. Those were the best times. We laughed, we ate, we drank, we watched Bluejays lose the playoffs, we walked to the park, we went glamping, we went to festivals we’ve been a hundred times before, we pretended to fish, we sat around fires, we told stories, we learned her way of playing mahjong, we listened to music. I remember on one such weekend get-togethers we ordered mother to sit with us and leave the dishes. We gave her a cup of tea and we told her that we were pregnant. She jumped off her chair and hugged me and said “My son, you are going to be a Baba!” I felt for the first time the reality of fatherhood washing over my body.

Today I am at peace because I know the deep deep love and affection between mother and son does not and will not diminish with time. Whenever I see a blade of young bamboo fluttering in the wind; whenever I see my daughter smiling a certain way; whenever I smell an exotic herbal tea; the mountain of emotions will hit me like an avalanche sweeping a hiker off his feet. I divert this energy to love. I send my eternal love to my mother. I receive her love from all around me. I take care of myself and my family and my fellow human beings. I continue to be a good son, a good man, a good person.

I continue my journey, but I am not alone. Just the other day, Mabel saw the photo of my mother and said: “Let’s call Nainai.” I told her we cannot call her on the phone but we can always talk to her in our hearts.

The journey continues but we are never alone.


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