Earlier in the night, my aunt asked me if my uncle from my mother’s side of the family ever kept in touch with me. I said no. She said that she thought it was quite strange considering he and my mother were siblings, and thus very close, even up til her death. I said that it didn’t seem strange at all. I mean, I’m not my mother, so why should he bother keeping in touch with me? She then retorted, “Then why do I care about you and your cousin?”
Both my cousin and I lost our mothers and were largely raised by this very aunt, even though we had fathers. It isn’t a wonder why she is the most important and beloved person in my life.
It was 11 p.m. as my aunt lay on the sofa, when she brought up my mother’s last few moments.
She said that even though my mother was comatose, that she could not move or speak or open her eyes, and was nearing her death, it was as if my mother could hear that she was being spoken to—my mother’s hands twitched and tears rolled down her face from her eyes when she heard my aunt reassure her that she would take good care of me.
It was the first time I had heard about this. I was surprised to find a single tear roll down each side of my cheek. It happened so quickly. My father often told me (and he still does, once in a while) about how he promised my mother as she lay in the hospital bed during some of her last moments that I’d become a well-educated woman, but I never cried when he told me about that moment all those times. My aunt’s recollection of my mother’s final days added an even heavier weight on everything I had ever heard about my mother’s final days.
Something struck me deeply. It grieved me that even though my mother was unable to wake up, speak, move or open her eyes, and that she never would wake up…tears formed from her eyes. It turns out that it was not only my father that promised my mother something on my part—to make sure I became a well-educated woman—but also my aunt who promised my mother that she would always take good care of me.
I knew nothing about my aunt’s promise or my mother’s tears when she heard them.
Sometimes a single word will resound in my head bearing an emotion. It’s hard to explain, but it just crashes down on me. As shocking as this may sound, I’ve never felt this strongly about my mother’s death.
After birthing me on June 30, 1994, Tina Shen went into a coma thereafter, passing away on July 29, 1994.
Once in a while, I wonder whether things would have been different if I had never been conceived. I think that life would have definitely taken a different course.