It is with a heavy heart that I write today of my late godmother’s passing, last night at 6:56pm.
Her name was Mary. As kids, my brothers and I would, in accordance with the Chinese custom, call her Auntie Mary. When I was 8 years old, on May 1st, 2006, Auntie Mary became my godmother, and from that point on, I addressed her not as Auntie Mary, but as “K Ma”– the Chinese word for godmother.
In 2010, doctors found a tumor in K Ma’s thymus. She was diagnosed with thymoma, or cancer of the thymus. Sadly, the tumor was deemed inoperable. And so she fought, for seven long years.
These past couple years have been especially tough for her. The cancer spread, fast. K Ma lost so much weight– my hand could almost wrap completely around the diameter of her forearm. Her blood platelet levels dropped to a mortally low level. She was constantly in and out of the hospital, receiving transfusion after transfusion.
On the outside, her body withered away before our very eyes. Inside, though, stood a resounding spirit that screamed resilience and steadfast hope and bravery. Never once did she lose heart, in spite of the monster that ate away at her from the inside out.
I admire her positivity and love for life till the very end. She was so confident– a people person indeed. She always smiled and had a witty, sometimes biting sense of humor.
I remember our last meal together at the Sheraton Hotel in San Francisco. Service was slow, and K Ma was not afraid to call out the waiters for not doing their jobs right. You show em’ how it’s done, K Ma!
I will miss our May 1st anniversary lunches and dinners in the city; birthday celebrations and 4th of July BBQ’s with her and her family, whom we are lucky to have in our lives; shopping sprees and expensive haircuts with the Japanese hair salon artist, Yoshi, whom she introduced me to; laughs and talk of boys and my barren love life.
I will always remember how she flew down to Irvine, despite doctors’ warnings against traveling, to watch me compete at my first ballroom dance competition.
I will truly miss having K Ma color my life.
I am grateful that I was able to see my K Ma one last time, the day before I left for my sophomore year at UCLA. 10 days ago. She was going to get a new iPhone so we could Facetime while I was away at college. That time never came. I had no idea that September 24th would be the last time I’d see her. I refused to believe that our time together on this Earth was reaching an end. I knew K Ma was very very sick, but I was in complete denial. Facing the truth simply hurt too much. I was hopeful that she’d bounce back, like all the other close calls she had in the past. I regret that I was not by her side when she died.
I am comforted, however, by the knowledge that K Ma is no longer in pain, and is lives peacefully on in a better place. She now watches over her loved ones, and I know that she will love, protect and guide me until my dying day.
Oh, K Ma… how I wish you could have remained on this Earth longer. I wish you could be there when I experience love for the first time. I wish you could proudly watch as I walk across the graduation stage, UCLA diploma in hand. I wish you could stand by my side on my wedding day. I wish you could have met my firstborn child, and given him or her the undying love you gave me.
K Ma, if you can hear me now, I want to tell you how much I love you and how much you inspire me to be better. Your last words to me were to study hard and become successful… for you. I know you’d want me to be happy and live a rich, fulfilling life. Please know that I will not fail you, and I WILL make you proud one day.