January & February, 2021

On February 21st, my mother passed away from lung cancer. After a difficult seven-month fight, she passed in her sleep in the early morning.

As with every other aspect of life, covid has complicated this entire ordeal. When I learned of the diagnosis last July, I had not seen my parents in person for about half a year. Virtually every meeting since had to be brief, masked and distanced, since there was always the possibility of unknowingly passing on covid, which would have carried deadly consequences to someone in her state. Instead, I would cook and pack food for her to try.

The first thing I made her after learning of the diagnosis and the immediate start of treatment: chicken chashu with tamagoyaki

Her condition during these past seven months had been up and down. For a while it seemed like there was progress with the treatment and she could be sustained with less aggressive chemo going forward, but that was not to be. I am definitely guilty of assuming the best-case scenario to avoid confronting the hard truth of a stage four lung cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, I was also able to see the night before she passed, though I did not know that would be the last visit at the time.

My mom also seemed to enjoy the Japchae I made back in early February

I confess that I did not have the closest relationship with my mother — I was not very pleasant in my high school and college years. Still, I can’t help but to wonder what I could have done differently. Knowing the ultimate outcome, should I have been as cautious with the meetings these past few months? Should I have visited more after I moved out of house? Should I have acted differently when I was younger? I know there’s no sense in regretting the past, yet these questions linger nonetheless.

The last picture of the family together.

Passing away during a lockdown is a cruel reward for someone who went through the gauntlet of starting a new life in another country. There are still matters to address with the family in mainland China, which is virtually inaccessible to foreign nationals right now. Thankfully, the vaccination drive in Canada has been accelerating, which will most likely help to facilitate the trip back sometime in the future.

Until then, I will keep waiting, which we all have gotten quite used to doing the past twelve months.

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